What A Surprise: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Flunks The Integrity Test

When Bill Maher seems more ethical than the White House, it's time to hit the life boats...

When Bill Maher seems more ethical than the White House, it’s time to hit the life boats…

Yes, today Kathleen Sebelius joined the growing group of pols, leaders, pundits and journalists—and maybe some of your friends and associates—who have flunked the integrity and trustworthiness test created by the undeniable evidence that public support for Obamacare was predicated on a calculated lie. Asked in today’s hearing about the fact that so many Americans are now receiving letters cancelling their health care plans  that they were “happy with” (including me, by the way) because of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, despite the President’s repeated assurances that…

“If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.”

…Sec. Sebelius replied that insurance companies have always been able to cancel plans, essentially making the deceitful argument that the current calculations were brought about by the exact same law the President promised would NOT lead to such cancellations.

This is despicable. It is also the same dishonest, insulting argument used yesterday by Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services. So this is apparently the talking point agreed upon by the Obama Administration: “Hey, we never said you wouldn’t be cancelled, just that this law wouldn’t cancel you.” But the President’s words actually did promise that nobody would be cancelled, and what he intended to convey was that nobody should fear losing their health care plan as a consequence of passing the ACA.

It would be preferable, and indicate some small degree of integrity, if the Administration flacks would just come clean and adopt the cynical but essentially accurate explanation of Bill Maher, alleged comic, who told CNN”s Piers Morgan, in the course of making excuses for Obama:

“But, yeah, he probably should’ve not been so blatant about saying you have an iron clad guarantee. On the other hand, since he got no Republican votes and no Republican help…annd since three years after it’s a law, they’re still fighting it, can you imagine what it would be like if he said, “Yeah, some people, your rates are going to go up”? I mean the thing passed by this much. If they had said that, they might’ve lost the whole thing.”

That’s right, admit it: Obama lied because he knew that his pet law could only pass if the American public was deceived about it. Then give the American people a chance to agree or disagree with Bill Maher’s version of leadership ethics in a democracy. After all, that is obviously what occurred.

The problem is that once governments accept lying as a primary tool, they can’t stop lying. Now, as Sibelius and others are proving, the Administration is lying about whether it lied. The Obamacare fiasco will have a true silver lining if it exposes how the culture of dishonesty has polluted Washington, D.C.

54 thoughts on “What A Surprise: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Flunks The Integrity Test

        • K.

          I will say one thing. This is when you get non technical people in charge of running a technical project.

          And this is also what you get when you give out no bid contracts. Not a fan of those. At all. I don’t care who is in charge.

          • It worked out better than the last Columbia mission. I wonder if Sebelius will get a better job out of this fiasco (like happened with Columbia). It’s all about name recognition.

            • I’ll give a (rare) kudo to CNN, here. At the very time Sebelius was claiming that the Obamacare website was still working, they inserted a live view of a computer monitor that clearly showed it had crashed once again. Still, Sebelius bulled along with her prepackaged litany. Is there anyone in this administration who has the slightest idea of what “shame” means?

              • CNN has its moments. At the same time, its reporter who was supposed to explain why Obama’s promise regarding keeping your plan if you wanted to just repeated Democratic talking points and said “it’s complicated.” It isn’t complicated in the least.

                • That’s just another common phrase used by officials when they’re in over their head and want to duck the question like they would a shotgun blast. When media types repeat it, it’s just their way of giving body armor to the suspect. Of course, you know all that!

    • In some weird, backward Orwellian way, she was actually telling the truth. A ‘crash’ would imply that it worked at some point. It never worked; therefore, it could never ‘crash’.

      “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

      George Orwell, ‘1984’.
      Very sad.

  1. This whole roundabout of excuses is driving me nuts. From “Keep your plan” to “technically, that adjustment they made to your coverage cancels your grandfathering, so your plan isn’t protected” and now, at last, to “We said the LAW wouldn’t cancel your plan, not that it wouldn’t make it so that the INSURER cancelled your plan.”

    This all reminds me of when, as a small child, I was told not to touch something and tucked my hand into my shirt before touching it anyway- *I* wasn’t the one touching it, you see? Sounds about like how the ACA isn’t what is causing cancellations. Of course, child Luke immediately felt the wrath for his clever idea, rather than having a bunch of people making excuses for me.

  2. I would argue that it is unethical to take someone’s words out of context and then attack them for the assigned context you have given those words.

    When Obama said that if you like your plan you can keep your plan, he CLEARLY was talking about what the ACA would require of you as a person. He wasn’t talking about anything else. The ACA has a mechanism to grandfather old policies. If an insurance company doesn’t follow what it takes to grandfather a policy, HOW IS THAT OBAMA’S FAULT? HOW DOES THAT MAKE OBAMA’S COMMENT A LIE?

    Ugh.

    • Because “You’ll get to keep your old plan if you like it, Period” leaves out the part about “If the insurance company makes none of the many many adjustments that we will consider sufficient to break the grandfathering clause.” It was a setup to give plausible deniability, to act as though old plans could be easily kept while actually setting them up to fall afoul of the rules and then blame it on the insurance companies.

      • Still, the insurance companies knew the law and PURPOSEFULLY took action to eliminate granfatherability.

        So yes, the insurance companies should be blamed for taking actions that eliminate grandfatherability.

        Insurance companies are to blame for many of their actions that required this law in the first place.

        • Dan, honestly, an idiotic statement. Companies are allowed to make profitable decisions within the law. If the law let them do this, they had every right and reason to do it, and the decision to allow them to do it was either deliberate of negligent—either way, the law’s architects are responsible.

          • Sorry Jack but no, just because something is legal it does not make it right (or ethical). I am actually shocked you would make this argument.

            They sell insurance and then drop sick people and you apologize for that crap? Sorry but that is extremely unethical. Their actions proved that they needed more regulation because they couldn’t be trusted to act in a way that was harmful and deceptive.

            And now, within the law, they had a pathway to keep older policies grandfathered so a person could keep their policies. But these insurance companies ACTIVELY made choices to change the policies in such a way so that they could not be grandfathered in.

            Yet you blame the architects.

            I am the builder of your house. I make you a door to go in. You take action to seal the door shut. Then you blame me for not being able to use the door. It is absurdity. You are better than that Jack.

            • Something bad happened? We need the government to make more rules to fix it! The government will protect us all, we just need to be good little children and give it all the power so it can save us from nasty ol’ life.

    • Liberal Dan, it’s Liberal Beth here. This was awful wording by the executive branch. They could and should have done better. I understood what would happen, but they have a responsibility to explain it to the public.

      • Often I will say that Democrats need better wordsmiths.

        But to expect that a speaker should have to account for every single way his/her words can be taken out of context is ridiculous to me.

        • You are working your way onto the no integrity list, Dan. Obama’s words were clear. The repeated period was emphasis and means, literally, “that’s all there is to say.” Don’t insult everyone’s intelligence here by pretending those words—want to see them again?—were in any way ambiguous or equivocal, or that anyone needs to do a Clinton to parse them. They were not, and nobody honest can argue they were. Again:

          “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.”

          There is no way to take those words out of context, because they are simple and clear. They are just a lie, that’s all. There were 20,000 pages of regs to define the details of Obamacare—if the Democrats wanted to live up to this promise, they could have done so. You can’t blame critics, you can’t blame Republicans or insurance companies. PERIOD.

          But I can and will blame those who refuse to accept that the leader they keep supporting despite demonstrable sloth, incompetence and dishonesty lied to the American people to deceive them, blatantly, intentionally, repeatedly and unforgivably. Pass the integrity test. It’s discouraging. It’s disillusioning. But it’s true.

          • Yes, he said those words IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LAW HE WAS PROPOSING WOULD REQUIRE OF YOU THE INSURED. The law allowed for plans to be grandfathered in as long as the insurers didn’t change those policies too much. The insurers changed the policies too much. You blame Obama. Pathetic.

            The people trying to take his words outside of the context in which they were given are the ones who lack integrity here Jack. Not I.

            • Well, then Obama crafted a law that could so easily defeat his intentions. The ACA should have made it illegal for insurers to change their plans at all, if Obama was truly serious. But, he wasn’t.
              -Jut

      • Stated another way as a question: Should a speaker be expected to figure out all the ways his/her words could possibly be taken out of context, account for each and every one of them, and if they are unable to do so should the people taking the speaker out of context be able to call the speaker a liar because the words COULD be taken out of context?

        I mean, go back to the whole “you didn’t build that” garbage that Conservatives tried to pull during the campaign. Clearly Obama was speaking about “roads and bridges” and other infrastructure that business owners do not physically build. But the Conservatives took his words out of context and stated that Obama was saying buisnessmen didn’t build their own businesses.

        To me, it is the person who takes someone’s words out of context that should always be considered to be the liar.

        • Actually, an appropriate analysis of the “you didn’t build that” speech in its context (that is including the targeted audience and tone of the speech), is that Obama WAS drumming up discontent and animosity towards successful entrepreneurs. If the specific line was meant to describe entrepreneur’s not building the infrastructure is immaterial. It captured the tone and audience of Obama’s “let’s build resentment towards the successful” attitude. So it was a terrible thing to say.

      • They have a responsibility not to lie. Stop spinning. This is the guy that’s supposed to be the brilliant speaker, remember? He can say what he means without “wordsmiths” if he wants to be clear. He didn’t want to. he had three and a half years to get it right.

        • He didn’t need a wordsmith here. He was clear. He is not responsible for anticipating every way that people might take his words out of context. And he should not be blamed when they do. Period.

          It is unethical to present someone words as meaning something that they do not mean. You fail the ethics test here sir, not me.

          • I repeat, Dan, your comments on this topic here make you look like a fool, and I know you’re not. Cut it out, and show some honesty and maturity. Laws like the ACA are all about incentives to force companies to do what (theoretically) allow the system work, just like the individual mandate is there to force individuals to conform. Nobody could or did read this giant, convoluted law, and nobody would know how it would work until it was in effect. They had to either oppose it, or accept it on faith—an admittedly stupid thing to do, but never mind. The public had no choice but to rely on what their “transparent” President promised them. He was clear all right. He said that after the ACA was passed, nothing would change if you wanted to keep your current plan. Well, I liked my plan…and my insurance company just wrote me to say that because of the mandates in the ACA, my plan was being terminated, and I would be offered a new one. Well, that is exactly what Obama said wouldn’t happen, PERIOD. Exactly. Nobody is taking him out of context or putting words in his mouth. You are simply engaging in Big Lie tactics, and assuming that if you keep denying what is right out there for everyone to see, they’ll just shrug and move on.

            Not here, buddy. I don’t tolerate that. Be a blind ideologue if you want, but don’t insult everyone else by lying yourself, or maybe to yourself, because that’s exactly what you’re doing. And don’t you dare call me unethical for interpreting English from a leader to mean what it means, and to hold him accountable for promises he knew he could not keep. I’m as disappointed as you are that this President turned out to be just another dishonest, manipulative, hypocritical and inept hack….but I saw the signs a long, long time ago. Stop attacking the messenger.

            • “Nobody could or did read this giant, convoluted law, and nobody would know how it would work until it was in effect.”

              It seems that a substantial portion of the naysayers and opponents DID know how it would work, based solely on knowing how markets react when compelled and regulated. They were accused however of throwing granny off the cliff.

          • Dan,

            You are elevating loyalty to ideology above accountability of ideologues. That is upside down. If his context had been as you describe it, then during the 3 years that opponents of Obamacare had been saying “people will lose their plans because of the ACA”, then he would have been rebutting those claims according you your reasoning.

            That your reasoning is only a recent tack being taken by the Left is fairly indicative that it is recently developed Spin. Had Obama meant what you claim, he would have used that reasoning to rebut the naysayers. He didn’t, because his meaning was as Jack explains it.

            He set up a series of promises, that were mathematically IMPOSSIBLE to fulfill. Either he knew the math (which apparently he did) which makes him a liar, or he didn’t know the math, which makes him incompetent.

          • Oh for $#!+’z sake, Dan, you are the most insufferable partisan apologist in the Obama Defense Corpse whose comments in Jack’s blog I have ever wasted time reading. Please don’t change your commenter name in Jack’s blog; in any case, I intend to avoid reading any and all of your comments if I can, as they are a waste of time for any reasonable person to read. Keep wasting space in Jack’s blog, if he’ll let you. That pollution would perhaps appropriately echo and serve to remind of the waste, fraud, and abuse that your Blameless One has proliferated and institutionalized on his non-watch.

        • Actually, Jack, come to think of it. He is a brilliant speaker, but that is it. He did not lie-the teleprompter did (just wait for the White House to start blaming this “glitch” of a statment on the machine).
          -Jut

  3. If you believe “If you like your plan you can keep it” does not only apply to what the ACA requires of you, you would have to believe that Obama was saying that if you quit a company that the ACA would allow you to keep the company sponsored insurance plan for the rest of your life. That is just utterly stupid.

    • You don’t have to get to that point (and if a leaders lies, “if you believe what he said you’re stupid” is a disgraceful excuse). The ACA, itself, once passed, would establish conditions that guaranteed that millions would Not be able to keep their plans–PERIOD.” In those terms alone, it was a lie. What did Obama think people would take from that statement? Just cut it out. You’re embarrassing yourself. Though you ARE demonstrating how such an inept POTUS managed to escape accountability so long–denial, spin, bias and fantasy.

    • From the Washington Post:

      “These cancellations are, essentially, a lot of grandfathered plans exiting the insurance marketplace. From an insurance company’s vantage point, grandfathered plans are a bit of a dead end: They can’t enroll new subscribers and are really constrained in their ability to tweak the benefit package or cost-sharing structure. There’s not a whole lot of business sense, for a managed care company, in maintaining a health plan that doesn’t meet the health law’s new requirements.

      How many people are going to get cancellation notices?

      It’s hard to put an exact number on this, given that insurance plans are the ones who decide whether or not to continue offering an insurance product. Experts have estimated that somewhere between half and three-quarters of those who currently buy their own policies will not have the option to renew coverage, which works out to around 7 to 12 million people.

      What does this have to do with Obamacare?

      Pretty much everything: Since the health-care law required insurance companies to change their plans, this is a direct result of the Affordable Care Act.

      ***

      The cancellation notices are a feature of the Affordable Care Act, not a bug. The idea was to make insurance coverage more robust — and that means cancelling policies that offer less thorough coverage.”

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/10/29/this-is-why-obamacare-is-cancelling-some-peoples-insurance-plans/

      The Washington Post acknowledges that this was a predictable and inevitable result of the ACA. If it was, then by stating definitively that people would be able to keep their plan if they liked their plan, Obama was either lying or incompetent.

      • I find it more likely that the policies where insurers made the active decision to not grandfather them were likely having bad claims experiences and the ones that were grandfathered had good claims experiences. So this is just another way that insurers can skirt the rules and only insure healthy people and dump them once sick.

        And, again, if the insurers took purposeful steps to not maintain grandfatherability then they are to blame for it, not the ACA.

  4. Liberal Dan has convinced me that there is no level of incompetence or evil that the left find themselves able to condemn when it is committed by Obama or his administration.

    • What we’re seeing here is the eternal leftist quest for “wiggle room”. In their society, the Leader cannot be faulted and must not be allowed to “lose face”- no matter how badly he has lied and/or blundered. It is for lesser functionaries to either saturate the debate with false talking points or, in a pinch, to fall on their swords (or “roll over” or whatever) for the cause of the State and their tin plated deity. Even Bill Clinton is starting to look good to me now in comparison. He may have been just as rotten to the core, but at least he gave you an occasional laugh in the process.

      • There’s only one problem, and that’s that when a general fell on his sword to take the dishonor that could be due to his general he died. When government officials “fall on their swords” they say “yeah, that was my fault, blame me, etc” and then NOTHING HAPPENS TO THEM. Obama just shrugs off whatever colossal mistakes they were responsible for/ are taking responsibility for to shield those higher up, and they go on their merry ways in the same position (if not a higher one).

        • True enough. It’s along the same lines as Kathleen Sebelius saying “I’m responsible” for the Obamacare website disaster before the House committee. And so what? Even if she eventually has to resign from her post, there will be any number of other jobs waiting for her. These people have no concept of what responsibility means and couldn’t care less.

      • But he is falling right into lockstep, because people fight to maintain their illusions.
        *************
        It’s hard to admit you were wrong…and…God forbid..Conservatives were right.

  5. “Heres the GUARANTEE that I make. if you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance. If youve got a doctor that you like, you can keep your doctor. ” BARACK H. OBAMA

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