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On Monday, NBC News published a piece by Alex Seitz-Wald in which he argued that Joe Biden may be “unsinkable,” at least in the Democratic Party presidential primaries.
Sure, Seitz-Wald wrote, Biden is tepid old bathwater in a race where scalding hot bathwater like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders or tepid, newer bathwater like Pete Buttigieg and (yes, even) Amy Klobuchar have had their turns as the flavor of the week.
Sure, he gaffes like no tomorrow. But, he started 2020 the same way he started 2019 — as the favorite, even though you can’t quite figure out how he’s stayed there.
One stab that Seitz-Wald took at it, and one part that stood out to me, was a bit where a Biden supporter named Rosio Fuentes told NBC News why they liked him.
“He just seems like a transparent person, someone who is honest and someone who stays true to his word,” Fuentes, who plans to support Biden when Nevada holds its caucus on Feb. 22, said. “When he speaks, you feel that he means what he says.”
If Biden backers want to keep the all-important Rosio Fuentes vote, they’d better hope Fuentes doesn’t see a video where Biden dissembles about Obamacare for several minutes straight without answering a simple question about Obamacare: “Were you lying to my dad?”
According to The Daily Wire, the video is from Dec. 28 in Washington, Iowa, but is just getting some traction now.
During the event, Biden handed the mic off to a young man who has a question about Obamacare. See if you can guess the exact point in this exchange where Biden’s hair plugs began to stand on end.
“During the run-up to the passage of Obamacare, President Obama promised my father that if he likes his plan, he can keep his plan, and that his insurance will be cheaper,” the young man said.
“After passage, his plan was no longer allowed and his insurance costs doubled. Since you supported the plan, were you lying to my dad? Or, did you not understand the bill you supported?”
The answer began with what I’m assuming was an attempt by Biden to sum up his answer with a folksy witticism but which is, I concluded after about 20 listen-throughs, not just inaudible but actually incoherent. (I heard “wine dog-faced pony shelter,” for those of you who are curious.)
Anyhow, the next few minutes probably made Biden wish he stuck with that “wine dog-faced pony shelter” talk.
“What I’m talking about now is that when — because I get asked the question — since, what I’d do is I’d add a public option to the existence of Obamacare, meaning that a Medicare-like option is available if in fact you — but there’s 160 million people out there who’ve negotiated a health care plan with their employer that they like and they don’t want to have to give up like ‘Medicare-for-All‘ requires,” Biden said. “It says you have to give it up. You cannot have any private insurance.
“What happened is — and by the way, the cost of Obamacare has gone down in the last two years, not up as you probably know, you seem to know this, number one. Number two is that, when you put yourself in a position of — I have faith in the American people — that if you’ve worked and given up significant portions of your salary over the last 2, 5, 10, 12 years to get a health care plan you like that you negotiated with an employer, then in fact, you should not be forced to give it up.
“You should have the choice. If you want to keep it, you can keep it. And if in fact … the employer eliminates the plan, which he could, eliminates the plan, then you’d have the option to buy into a subsidized plan of Obamacare.”
There are bits of information in here, yet a) no real cohesive argument and b) no real answer to the young man’s question.
This sounds like a man who’s been briefed on bullet points as to why Obamacare isn’t as bad as its critics say it is but has no idea how to string those facts into anything resembling an argument.
Shortly thereafter, Biden summed up what he was saying, albeit unintentionally.
“We’ve changed a lot of things for the better, and we’ve tried under five Democratic presidents, tried to change those things, and people say, ‘Well Biden, why now do you think you can add the public option and why can you further subsidize it?’” Biden said.
“Well, because people, there’s two ways people know when something is important. One, when it’s so clear when it’s passed that everybody understands it — and no one did understand Obamacare, including the way it was rolled out.”
At this point, why would you take another thing this man says on health care seriously?
I don’t think I need to reiterate the ways in which Obamacare failed and continues to fail, but here’s a greatest hits list.
It forced Americans to buy a product many of them didn’t want to buy. You liked your doctor, you didn’t get to keep your doctor.
Premiums went up. Plans got canceled.
People were left buying into health insurance they couldn’t afford that didn’t really cover them because the deductible was so high.
And apparently, according to Biden, “no one did understand Obamacare” when it was passed.
Yet that hasn’t stopped him from wanting to take the plan to a whole new level.
On Biden’s campaign website, the page about his health care strategy is called the “Plan To Protect & Build on the Affordable Care Act.”
(Biden quote at the top, for real: “When we passed the Affordable Care Act, I told President Obama it was a big deal — or something to that effect.”)
“He opposes every effort to get rid of this historic law — including efforts by Republicans, and efforts by Democrats,” the page reads. “Instead of starting from scratch and getting rid of private insurance, he has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate.”
Just like the first time, right?
So, I have a few questions for Rosio Fuentes.
Is this a transparent man? Does that sound transparent to you?
Honest? Perhaps about the ways the plan failed, yes. But about the viability of the plan going forward?
Does he means what he says? I mean, even that part where he says no one understood Obamacare.
Its opponents understood it far too well — something Biden apparently even now can’t admit to over a decade after it became law.