Unpacking Joe Biden – and his big effing deal

Is Joe Biden looking for attention?  Is he still in the game of angling for invitations and seeming like a power player and somehow staying relevant?  Or did someone call in a favor, asking him to help preserve the Obama legacy of Obamacare in exchange for something done earlier?  Or is he just batty enough to think he could run for public office again?  Regardless of motive, he's written a mess of phony claims, straw men, red herrings, and projections in his jawbone bid to save Obamacare.

The Washington Post has accommodated him:

As vice president, I met with Americans all across our country. What they told me over and over is that the Affordable Care Act gave them peace of mind – that if they got sick, or if their child got sick, they could get care and not have to worry about going broke as a result. They no longer had to lay awake at night wondering: Can I pay for this treatment? What happens if she gets cancer? How will I feed my family and afford the care?

They told me that because when the ACA became law and health-care coverage was extended to millions of people, it meant we had finally decided, as a nation, that health care is a right for all and not a privilege for the few.

Republican leaders in Congress believe the opposite. And if they take that peace of mind away, they’ll have to look Americans in the eye and explain to them that they have to start worrying again.

If you could get through that glurge, welcome to the start of his series of sleights of hand.  Here are five problems easily spotted:

1. In that lede, Biden would have you think he's spent all sorts of time with ordinary Americans of the kind who voted for Donald Trump, and they're all just dandy with Obamacare.  In fact, if you think the entire election was swung by the Russians, it might be pretty easy for a Democrat to think everyone shared Biden's claimed view that Middle America loves Obamacare.  But all indicators suggest that the election was swung by popular loathing of Obamacare, the detested insurance setup that reduces choice, forces Americans into buying larded up insurance they don't want, and drives prices sky-high.  News accounts during the Obamacare debacle were loaded with Americans who didn't want the program, and audiences were difficult to fill for the cameras.  Biden by his claims merely shows he lives in a bubble.

2. Next up, Biden frames the issue with the straw man, that the issue is over health care being a right, not a privilege.  The real issue is whether coverage is actually care.  Under Obamacare, most Americans have learned that you can spend up a storm for your larded up Obamacare program, which will cover every pregnancy a man could get, all the mammograms he needs, and all the drug addiction treatment costs he will ever need to repeat, repeat, and repeat – because drug addiction treatment has a 90% fail rate, accounting for its high cost.  If he needs anything else, that'll cost, and he can pay that from his $10,000 deductible.  All of this assumes that there are doctors who will take his insurance; plenty won't.  But what would Biden know about this?  He's never had to bear the health insurance costs of Obamacare a day of his life.  It's easy to tout Obamacare if you don't have to actually use it.

3. Biden actually calls Obamacare "peace of mind" – something he should tell the five million Americans who have lost their insurance because of Obamacare as of 2013.  The number now is surely higher as state exchange after state exchange implodes and insurers flee the market.  To call this "peace of mind" is an insult.

4. It gets worse as Biden cites the wonderfulness of the Obamacare mandate on treatment for opioid addiction, something that affects 810,000 Americans who are heroin addicts, courtesy of Obama's open borders policy with Mexico, which allowed the cartels to move in on that business and create new markets in America's depressed regions, many in the Midwest.  Biden ignores that the high cost of mandated drug addiction treatment is making insurance absolutely unaffordable for other kinds of illness and crowding out other kinds of care.

Republicans had tried to separate out the need for opioid treatment from the general population, which is stuck on the individual market, but Biden falsely warns that Republicans seek to resolve the opioid addiction problem "on the cheap," as he puts it.

Their bill tries to deal with opioid addiction on the cheap, eviscerates the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and guts the ACA’s promise that care like maternity and mental health and substance-use disorder services must be part of any viable health coverage system. They want to drag us back to a time – not all that long ago – when Americans could be denied basic health care because they were unable to afford it. That’s the reality of where we are today and it’s enough to make your blood boil.

A look at the data shows that the opposite is true – and it's quite an example of charlatanery.  Assume that the 810,000 addicts figure put out by the National Institutes of Health is correct, and assume that all of these heroin addicts are willing and able to get treatment though their wonderful Obamacare program, which they have been faithfully paying their premiums on.  Biden says the GOP wants to shovel $45 billion to the addicts instead of force the Obamacare individual market-buyers to shoulder all of that burden as others with workplace insurance skate.  He calls that relief to ordinary Americans stuck in the individual market paying for addicts instead of buying meaningful insurance for themselves "cheap."  Assuming that the GOP has in mind a ten-year window, as Biden does with his own figures, that amounts to more than $5.5 million per addict for treatment.

Biden says his own assessment of the needs, proposing an expert-cited $183 billion for addicts over ten years, is better.  But that amounts to $2.5 million per addict for treatment.  The GOP is almost literally twice as generous to addicts as Biden's cited experts.  Any questions as to why Obamacare is so unaffordable and useless to average Americans – and why they'd like to get rid of it?

4. Biden goes on to browbeat the young for not wanting to buy larded up insurance and pay for that larding with mental health, drug addiction, pregnancy, and other extremely expensive coverage unlikely to be used (except as regards pregnancy in the case of young women).  The desire of the young and healthy is for yearly checkups and catastrophic insurance, which alone make an insurance plan affordable.  But for Biden, it's something to browbeat them over, which he does, saying "things can happen," meaning they need to spend half their meager earnings on health care for addicts.  This is exactly the same browbeating the Obama team did during its years, shortly after getting the bill passed and noticing that the young, who were expected to carry the burden for the addicts and the chronically sick, were refusing to sign up.  Remember the Pajama Boy ad?

5. Biden then throws out another straw-man projection, claiming that allowing any escape for the young who don't flock to Obamacare will result in disaster for those who are:

... older and sicker, and their premiums would increase to the point that they could be left with an option for insurance that exists on paper, but not in practice.

The claim is insulting because it has already happened. And there are a lot of people who are stuck with Obamacare on the individual market who have massive costs, technical "coverage," and zero care.

Biden flippantly dismisses any such issues with Obamacare itself as "Obamacare isn't perfect, but...," just as Hillary Clinton did during her failed 2016 campaign.  But that's the issue, isn't it?  Obamacare isn't living up to its promises.  At all.  A few connected to the Democrats claim to have been helped, but it's a nightmare for millions and millions of Americans.

What is so striking about Biden's op-ed is how he trots out the old "we are not listening" tropes of the Democrats to blame Republicans for the failures of Obamacare and praise the law itself as a success.  Biden calls for a debate, but he means a Democrat-style debate, the kind Obama pulled, where Republican ideas were excluded.  No portable health insurance.  No multi-state-line insurance pools to cut costs.  No choice of coverage.  No medical savings accounts.  No build your own Progressive-style insurance models.  Nothing but state control and an increasingly shrinking palette of choices, sky-high costs, and coverage but not care.

That points to the real problem with Biden's op-ed – he has no solutions, no better ideas, no acknowledgment of problems, no recognition of Americans' concerns.  He dismisses all of the concerns as small, isolated things and marginalizes millions of Americans.  With this the attitude, is it any wonder Democrats haven't been winning elections lately?  Biden is the emblem of their obtuseness to the public's loathing of Obamacare – and why the whole thing has got to go.

Is Joe Biden looking for attention?  Is he still in the game of angling for invitations and seeming like a power player and somehow staying relevant?  Or did someone call in a favor, asking him to help preserve the Obama legacy of Obamacare in exchange for something done earlier?  Or is he just batty enough to think he could run for public office again?  Regardless of motive, he's written a mess of phony claims, straw men, red herrings, and projections in his jawbone bid to save Obamacare.

The Washington Post has accommodated him:

As vice president, I met with Americans all across our country. What they told me over and over is that the Affordable Care Act gave them peace of mind – that if they got sick, or if their child got sick, they could get care and not have to worry about going broke as a result. They no longer had to lay awake at night wondering: Can I pay for this treatment? What happens if she gets cancer? How will I feed my family and afford the care?

They told me that because when the ACA became law and health-care coverage was extended to millions of people, it meant we had finally decided, as a nation, that health care is a right for all and not a privilege for the few.

Republican leaders in Congress believe the opposite. And if they take that peace of mind away, they’ll have to look Americans in the eye and explain to them that they have to start worrying again.

If you could get through that glurge, welcome to the start of his series of sleights of hand.  Here are five problems easily spotted:

1. In that lede, Biden would have you think he's spent all sorts of time with ordinary Americans of the kind who voted for Donald Trump, and they're all just dandy with Obamacare.  In fact, if you think the entire election was swung by the Russians, it might be pretty easy for a Democrat to think everyone shared Biden's claimed view that Middle America loves Obamacare.  But all indicators suggest that the election was swung by popular loathing of Obamacare, the detested insurance setup that reduces choice, forces Americans into buying larded up insurance they don't want, and drives prices sky-high.  News accounts during the Obamacare debacle were loaded with Americans who didn't want the program, and audiences were difficult to fill for the cameras.  Biden by his claims merely shows he lives in a bubble.

2. Next up, Biden frames the issue with the straw man, that the issue is over health care being a right, not a privilege.  The real issue is whether coverage is actually care.  Under Obamacare, most Americans have learned that you can spend up a storm for your larded up Obamacare program, which will cover every pregnancy a man could get, all the mammograms he needs, and all the drug addiction treatment costs he will ever need to repeat, repeat, and repeat – because drug addiction treatment has a 90% fail rate, accounting for its high cost.  If he needs anything else, that'll cost, and he can pay that from his $10,000 deductible.  All of this assumes that there are doctors who will take his insurance; plenty won't.  But what would Biden know about this?  He's never had to bear the health insurance costs of Obamacare a day of his life.  It's easy to tout Obamacare if you don't have to actually use it.

3. Biden actually calls Obamacare "peace of mind" – something he should tell the five million Americans who have lost their insurance because of Obamacare as of 2013.  The number now is surely higher as state exchange after state exchange implodes and insurers flee the market.  To call this "peace of mind" is an insult.

4. It gets worse as Biden cites the wonderfulness of the Obamacare mandate on treatment for opioid addiction, something that affects 810,000 Americans who are heroin addicts, courtesy of Obama's open borders policy with Mexico, which allowed the cartels to move in on that business and create new markets in America's depressed regions, many in the Midwest.  Biden ignores that the high cost of mandated drug addiction treatment is making insurance absolutely unaffordable for other kinds of illness and crowding out other kinds of care.

Republicans had tried to separate out the need for opioid treatment from the general population, which is stuck on the individual market, but Biden falsely warns that Republicans seek to resolve the opioid addiction problem "on the cheap," as he puts it.

Their bill tries to deal with opioid addiction on the cheap, eviscerates the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and guts the ACA’s promise that care like maternity and mental health and substance-use disorder services must be part of any viable health coverage system. They want to drag us back to a time – not all that long ago – when Americans could be denied basic health care because they were unable to afford it. That’s the reality of where we are today and it’s enough to make your blood boil.

A look at the data shows that the opposite is true – and it's quite an example of charlatanery.  Assume that the 810,000 addicts figure put out by the National Institutes of Health is correct, and assume that all of these heroin addicts are willing and able to get treatment though their wonderful Obamacare program, which they have been faithfully paying their premiums on.  Biden says the GOP wants to shovel $45 billion to the addicts instead of force the Obamacare individual market-buyers to shoulder all of that burden as others with workplace insurance skate.  He calls that relief to ordinary Americans stuck in the individual market paying for addicts instead of buying meaningful insurance for themselves "cheap."  Assuming that the GOP has in mind a ten-year window, as Biden does with his own figures, that amounts to more than $5.5 million per addict for treatment.

Biden says his own assessment of the needs, proposing an expert-cited $183 billion for addicts over ten years, is better.  But that amounts to $2.5 million per addict for treatment.  The GOP is almost literally twice as generous to addicts as Biden's cited experts.  Any questions as to why Obamacare is so unaffordable and useless to average Americans – and why they'd like to get rid of it?

4. Biden goes on to browbeat the young for not wanting to buy larded up insurance and pay for that larding with mental health, drug addiction, pregnancy, and other extremely expensive coverage unlikely to be used (except as regards pregnancy in the case of young women).  The desire of the young and healthy is for yearly checkups and catastrophic insurance, which alone make an insurance plan affordable.  But for Biden, it's something to browbeat them over, which he does, saying "things can happen," meaning they need to spend half their meager earnings on health care for addicts.  This is exactly the same browbeating the Obama team did during its years, shortly after getting the bill passed and noticing that the young, who were expected to carry the burden for the addicts and the chronically sick, were refusing to sign up.  Remember the Pajama Boy ad?

5. Biden then throws out another straw-man projection, claiming that allowing any escape for the young who don't flock to Obamacare will result in disaster for those who are:

... older and sicker, and their premiums would increase to the point that they could be left with an option for insurance that exists on paper, but not in practice.

The claim is insulting because it has already happened. And there are a lot of people who are stuck with Obamacare on the individual market who have massive costs, technical "coverage," and zero care.

Biden flippantly dismisses any such issues with Obamacare itself as "Obamacare isn't perfect, but...," just as Hillary Clinton did during her failed 2016 campaign.  But that's the issue, isn't it?  Obamacare isn't living up to its promises.  At all.  A few connected to the Democrats claim to have been helped, but it's a nightmare for millions and millions of Americans.

What is so striking about Biden's op-ed is how he trots out the old "we are not listening" tropes of the Democrats to blame Republicans for the failures of Obamacare and praise the law itself as a success.  Biden calls for a debate, but he means a Democrat-style debate, the kind Obama pulled, where Republican ideas were excluded.  No portable health insurance.  No multi-state-line insurance pools to cut costs.  No choice of coverage.  No medical savings accounts.  No build your own Progressive-style insurance models.  Nothing but state control and an increasingly shrinking palette of choices, sky-high costs, and coverage but not care.

That points to the real problem with Biden's op-ed – he has no solutions, no better ideas, no acknowledgment of problems, no recognition of Americans' concerns.  He dismisses all of the concerns as small, isolated things and marginalizes millions of Americans.  With this the attitude, is it any wonder Democrats haven't been winning elections lately?  Biden is the emblem of their obtuseness to the public's loathing of Obamacare – and why the whole thing has got to go.

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