Give It to Us Straight, Doc

Why Can't Politicians Be Honest About Obamacare?

Can we please get some clarity on the politics of the Affordable Care Act?

A front-page article in the New York Times recently described Democratic officeholders facing fall elections “anxious about an onslaught of television ads hitting vulnerable Senate and House candidates for their support of the new health law.” The conventional wisdom seems to be that masses of Americans, feeling ripped off by the new policy, are ready to pounce. But does this correspond to reality? (See "Catastropic Coverage.")

To the extent the ACA has been misrepresented by proponents, the dishonesty boils down to a reluctance to identify winners and losers. This reluctance is hardly restricted to Obamacare. On issue after issue, our politicians fail to treat us like grownups in this regard. Truth is, all major policy changes create winners and losers; the goal is to maximize overall benefit by creating more of the former than of the latter. But lonely is the politician willing to say, straight out, that there will be any losers at all—never mind tell us who they’ll be! Instead we get pie-in-the-sky...

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About the Author

Rand Richards Cooper is Commonweal's contributing editor.