Patterico's Pontifications


Rank Sophistry from Michael Hiltzik on ObamaCare

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:22 pm

Imagine adult brothers and sisters discussing having their families get together next summer. The total cost of a European vacation for the extended family will be $100,000. A vote is taken, and everyone in the family agrees: while a European vacation would be fun, the price tag is far too high, and on balance it’s not worth it.

Michael Hiltzik looks at this scenario and reports: “The truth is, family wants to go on European vacation.”

This exact type of rank sophistry is on display in Hiltzik’s piece, titled: The truth is, Americans love Obamacare.

Among the many delusions guiding the Republican campaign against the Affordable Care Act, surely the most consistent is the idea that the public detests the law and is clamoring for repeal.

Here’s the truth: The American public loves Obamacare, with as many as 88% in favor, according to one survey. How can that be, when polls regularly show a plurality of respondents with an “unfavorable” view of Obamacare? (In a September Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, the difference was 43% unfavorable to 39% favorable.)

The answer, of course, is that most Americans have no idea what’s in the law.

No, the answer, of course, is that Hiltzik is engaged in rank sophistry. He cherry-picks the parts of the law people like, ignores the part they hate (the individual mandate), and pretends that “ObamaCare” contains only the popular parts:

In the Kaiser survey, 57% said they didn’t have enough information to know how it would affect them. When they’re asked how they feel about specific provisions, however, they’re almost always thunderously in favor.

Here are figures from Kaiser’s March 2013 poll:

Tax credits for small businesses to buy insurance: 88% in favor. [Note this number. I’ll refer to it below. — Ed.]

Closing the Medicare drug benefit doughnut hole: 81% in favor.

Extension of dependent coverage to offspring up to age 26: 76% in favor.

Expanding Medicaid: 71% in favor.

Ban on exclusions for preexisting conditions: 66% in favor.

Employer mandate: 57% in favor.

Note how Hiltzik takes the most popular of those provisions, the provision that has 88% approval, and uses that single provision as a stand-in for the entire law, arguing: “The American public loves Obamacare, with as many as 88% in favor, according to one survey.” How stupid does he think his readers are?! Hiltzik continues:

If you agree with those provisions, congratulations: You love Obamacare.

No, if you agree with those provisions, you like the popular parts of ObamaCare.

But guess what? There is another part of ObamaCare, the individual mandate, which is wildly unpopular. A Daily Mail article in September reported that a shocking 77% of respondents wanted the individual mandate killed or delayed:

A healthcare media company sponsored a scientific poll of more than 2,000 registered voters, and found a stunning 77 per cent want to see Obamacare’s individual health insurance mandate delayed or scrapped entirely. That includes 49 per cent who want the mandate killed.

Just 11 per cent agreed with the Obama administration’s contention that fully implementing the president’s signature health care law will lower their “total health care costs, such as appointment co-payments, monthly premiums, deductibles and drug co-payments.”

I guess I could do the mirror image of Hilztik’s sophistry, and report the polling on the single least popular provision of ObamaCare as a stand-in for the entire law. (“The truth is, 77% of Americans oppose ObamaCare!!!”) But, unlike Michael Hiltzik, I am not dishonest.

And by the way? I don’t need to be, in order to honestly report to you that the overall law is unpopular. As recently as Thursday, Investor’s Business Daily reported that, when people balance the good against the bad, people reject the law — and opposition is strong and increasing:

Opposition to ObamaCare hit new highs just as it officially gets off the ground, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll. The survey found 54% oppose the law, up from 50% in September and 47% in July. More than half want the law delayed a year as part of any deal to raise the debt limit.

The survey also found that ObamaCare is having a real and negative impact on jobs.

Nearly one in 10 said that either they or someone in their household has had their hours cut back because of ObamaCare. That translates into as many as 9 million people. Meanwhile, 6% say they or another household member has lost a job because of ObamaCare. In other words, the health law is responsible for as many as 7 million lost jobs.

To go back to our example above, if the various members of the extended family took a poll, answering various questions about a European vacation, you might have 88% who say they like France, 57% who say they like Spain, 77% percent who say $100,000 is unthinkable as a price for the vacation, and 54% who say that, overall, it’s not worth that high a price to go to Europe next year. And Hilztik would tell you that, in one survey, 88% of family members said they loved the idea of going to Europe next year.

Blatant dishonesty. It’s how Michael Hiltzik rolls.

17 Responses to “Rank Sophistry from Michael Hiltzik on ObamaCare”

  1. Mikekoshi thinks it’s a brilliant piece, though.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. I’m 100% sure that MH is a mendacious tool.

    I bet he also would say that 99.9% of veterans are not against the barrycades at the memorials since they have not tried to take them down.

    Ed from SFV (f8e3aa)

  3. 99.9% of Americans are in favor of more jobs (and therefore with Hiltzik logic) favor repealing Obamacare.

    Dustin (bae706)

  4. My family was all set for a big European vacation – do the Grand Tour.
    Everyone was flabbergasted when we told them that because of the events the first of September, we would have to cancel the planned excursion set for Spring, ’40!

    askeptic (2bb434)

  5. everyone – especially congress – knows that only losers get the obamacare

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  6. The entire justification for Obamacare was the tens of millions of “uninsured”. A number which settled down to about 32 million uninsured.

    Government studies are now admitting that even after Obamacare is rolled out, there will be 32 million uninsured.

    Utter failure in every aspect.

    SPQR (768505)

  7. ObamaCare…..too many syllables.

    BARRYCARE… just rolls off your tongue with the proper tone of disrespect!

    askeptic (2bb434)

  8. 32-million uninsured?

    That wouldn’t be the actual number of illegal aliens would it?

    askeptic (2bb434)

  9. Someone at the LA Times should have discussed the misleading aspects of this article with Hiltzik. I’ve decided it’s a myth that major newspapers employ editors.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  10. “How stupid does he think his readers are?”

    Well, it IS the LAT, hard to lose betting against the intelligence of the readers.

    Estragon (19fa04)

  11. DRJ, I think that “newspapers” do employ editors.
    Propaganda outlets, aka LAT/NYT/WaPo/etc, on the other hand, do not, as the message is set and will be delivered regardless.

    askeptic (2bb434)

  12. Michael Hiltzik is not only a left wing hack, but he’s a strange bird.

    He also has a history of malfeasance. When he worked for the Times’ bureau in Moscow a number of years ago, he was suspended for hacking into a Times colleague’s private email account.

    And several years ago, he was famously suspended by the Times for facillitating his sock puppetry, which entailed using fake LA Times commenter names in order to support himself, after he elicited the ire of conservative commenters following his disastrous appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, as well as for his blog attacks on Hewitt’s then co-blogger, Mary Katharine Ham.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  13. you lost me at “LA Times”…

    i don’t have any dogs to train. 😎

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  14. Why anyone would take Hiltzik seriously is a mystery. I personally think the GOP should have left it alone to fail but Obama and the Park Service are certainly doing what they can to bail out the House.

    If the IT part of Obamacare can work, why did the Soviet Union fail ?

    Mike K (dc6ffe)

  15. Michael Hiltzik is simply one more reason that I don’t read the LA Slimes. An interesting thought experiment presents itself: if 88% of Americans love Obamacare, yet only 43% of Americans approve of Obama’s job performance, how many Americans are voting “yes” to both questions?

    Dirty Old Man (4bf1c0)

  16. Mike Math: If you add the LAT’s daily circulation numbers for the week and multiply the combined total by 30 days, monthly circulation figures justify the ad rates. That’s how liars figure.

    ropelight (d1dbbc)

  17. While I am sure of Mr. Hiltzik’s conviction that ‘Obamacare’ is truly a magnificent program of benevolence. The truth of the matter is far different than that which he portrays.

    The glowing optimism of his article implying that Americans overwhelmingly love Obamacare by selecting ‘facets’ which would naturally appeal to most people is tantamount to putting a five star meal featuring ‘fillet mignon’ on a pedestal in the middle of a cesspool. A close up picture showing only the meal may look appetizing; but no matter how good the picture of the meal may look, the reality with its surrounding stench takes away your appetite, and most certainly no one would be inclined to wade through the excrement to eat it.

    This is the way any literate American, one who realizes that skepticism of ALL politicians is prudent, and one who has actually been reading and analyzing fully the provisions of PPACA, will say it is that they really feel about Obamacare.

    In every other aspect, Americans who are familiar with the terms of the ‘rest of Obamacare’ realize that it is anything but affordable; and most certainly does little in any way to really protect patients. As defined, PPACA is a prime example of a governmental oxymoron of epic proportions. Mr. Hiltzik’s summations of this morass in his few paragraphs, for the few of us that have actually taken our valuable time to perform a more thorough analysis, display that he is completely unaware of the functional details of this legislation.

    If instead he were to ask questions like…
    Would approve this program if it does all these things, but its costs resulted in the costs of most goods and services here in the U.S. increasing by at least 30%?
    Would you approve this program if it forced employers to limit the hours their employees work to only three days a week?
    Would you approve this program if it would result in hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens losing their jobs?
    Would you approve this program if it would result in company closures, or more companies moving their operations out of the country?

    When you ask most Americans these questions… the overwhelming answer is ‘NO WAY!’

    The fact of the matter is, Obamacare is ultimately about creating a new mechanism for taxation.

    Congress (both parties) has an insatiable appetite for spending money earned by others. Congress has been salivating over the Canadian system for decades. Although, it is true that the Canadian government (and other socialized medical systems) spend far less on care per person than is spent in the United States; it is equally true that the average citizen in the industrialized socialist nations pay far more in ‘healthcare’ taxes than what the average citizen in the United States pays combined in their premiums and out of pocket medical costs. This fact seemingly continually eludes the individuals of the media, including those who refer to themselves as ‘objective’ journalists.

    PPACA, with all its additional layers of taxation, and the IRS as its enforcement arm, is far more appropriately defined as the…

    I grew up poor (living in the housing projects of Baltimore for most of my youth) and, starting with nothing, I worked my way up by hard work to join the ranks, not of the ‘rich’, but of the middle class.
    From this back ground, I learned several things…
    1. Existing under governmental subsistence is just that… existing. The government gives folks just enough to survive, and just enough to keep them from rioting. Nothing more. (I’ve watched as self-serving politicians of both parties would say, “vote for me because my opponent is going to take away your ‘subsidies’.” These make no offers to help the people better themselves; but work diligently to keep the people enslaved and reliant upon ‘their’ handouts of wealth redistribution. And yes, I am unequivocally qualified to make this assessment.)
    2. When the economy suffers, it is the poor who feel the greatest impact with many from the middle class joining their ranks.
    3. The more the rich are vilified and penalized, the less opportunity there is, not only for the middle class; but most especially for the poor.

    I spent most of the first 30 years of my life being poor. During all these years, no one poor ever gave me an opportunity nor showed me how to better my lot in life. During my years being poor, it was governmental intervention that closed the traditional doors of economic viability that my predecessors had learned to depend on for over a hundred years (namely employment in the rail and steel industries). This was courtesy of one of the most discriminatory of government programs… ‘Affirmative Action’.
    The Affirmative Action program forced employers to hire based on ‘race’ and forbade them to consider qualifications that really count. I finally came to the conclusion that given the other governmental hurdles, there was too much in Maryland for me to overcome. All I could do there was watch as the system imploded and jobs moved overseas.

    Ultimately, through this process I was forced to become self-employed. When one starts out with nothing and is surrounding by people with nothing, building anything is virtually an impossible task. Eventually, with the realization that I would have to face my worst fears and leave everything I knew behind, I made the decision to relocate and start over in Tennessee (a State income ‘tax free’ state, a right to work State, and a State where the costs of living were far lower than Maryland).
    Shortly after my arrival here, the baby Obamacare was imposed. It was called Tenncare. It promised to do all those wonderful things your precious Obamacare promised. In two years Tenncare was desperately broke.
    Neither the State, nor the Federal government had enough funds to keep Tenncare going. This was, of course, as it was intended. Tenncare’s founders implemented it with the insidious purpose of establishing a State income tax. Fortunately, at least here, they failed in their endeavor.

    Mr. Hiltzik’s State, California, only represents one eighth of the entire GDP of the United States. Yet, California has a full ONE-THIRD of all welfare recipients in the United States. Is this really something California should be proud of? However, to blame the citizens of California would be patently unfair. It is in fact, the government of California (just as it was in Maryland) that knows no spending restraints. After all, its easy to make promises that costs money so long as it is ‘other peoples money’ you are spending. Indeed, hardworking people are fleeing California in droves and moving here everyday.
    As the late, great, Maggie Thatcher once pointed out… the problem of spending ‘other peoples money’ is that you ‘eventually run out of it’.

    In considering Obamacare and all the other governmental trappings established by Congress (mostly under the guise of benevolence), one is compelled to come to the following conclusion…

    “Congress has, through its machinations created a system so complex, so convoluted, and so thoroughly corrupt; no one but the Devil himself could possibly have devised it!”

    Quentin Ledford, ChFC, RIA (654a47)

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