Tag Archives: Obamacare

Straw Mom

Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue about his son’s congenital heart defect and the medical treatment it needed was pretty moving.  And Kimmel then followed it with an observation that too many folks without insurance coverage would not have had the medical access he had. It was, ultimately, a personal story about why the Affordable Care Act is so important.

Enter Michelle Malkin for some pushback.  She titled her piece, “A Thinking Mom’s Message for Jimmy Kimmel.”  First, she took issue with the fact that Kimmel “turned his personal plight into a political weapon” that so many were willing to re-tweet and like on social media.  But then the argument, and not the opportunisim, gets some critical attention:

Kimmel doesn’t need more maudlin Twitter suck-uppery. He needs a healthy fact-check. “Before 2014,” he claimed, “if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition, you were born with a pre-existing condition.”

This is false. If parents had health insurance, the child would have been covered under the parents’ policy whether or not the child had a health problem

But this is a pretty uncharitable interpretation of Kimmel’s sentence.  Surely Kimmel’s not saying that without the ACA the babies would need to have insurance coverage, but the baby’s parents.  But the second issue is not addressed at all – the point about pre-existing conditions.  Sure, if the parents have coverage, no problem.  But the parents can’t apply for coverage after finding the condition without either huge penalties, going into a high-risk pool with sky-high premiums, or just not getting coverage.  That’s what Kimmel is focusing on.  And that’s not at all what Malkin’s responding to.
This occasions an important theoretical point.  Sometimes the straw man is constructed not in the restatement or the explicit representation of the opponent’s view, but in the implicature in how one responds to the things they said.  So when Malkin makes the unnecessarily persnickety point about parents, she’s painting a picture of Kimmel’s view by only stating the correction.  And when she makes the point about health insurance already on the books, she obscures Kimmel’s main point by attacking something off stage.

Chutzpah

In the The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defines chutzpah as

. . . that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan”.

Here is a nearly perfect example. John Thune, US Senator from South Dakota, tweets:

Six million people risk losing their health care subsidies, yet @POTUS continues to deny that Obamacare is bad for the American people.

Six million people have health care subsidies through Obamacare, they risk losing it because Republicans have (1) never supported it and didn’t vote for it; (2) constantly voted to repeal it; (3) waged lawsuits, like the present one, aimed at undermining its legal basis. Now, the argument goes, if he gets his wish and it goes away, it is the President’s fault.

Slamming

Fig. 1: a slam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s an unproductive exchange between Paul Krugman and Joe Scarborough on the subject of the changes by the Census Bureau in the way it evaluates health care information.  First, here’s Scarborough on the changes:

“Listen, the White Houses on both sides do their best to cook the books,” he said. “This is a particularly clumsy effort.”

Krugman then observes:

You can argue that the Census decision to change its health-insurance questionnaire starting with the 2013 data wasn’t such a good idea — in fact, I know a number of health care experts who are dismayed,” wrote Krugman, a liberal columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist. “But it’s really quite vile to have talk-show hosts who quite literally know nothing about the field, other than that they’re against covering the uninsured, casually accusing Census of “cooking the books” to support Obamacare.” (Link in the original.)

Note the concession, in bold.  Now Joe Scarborough responds:

“Paul’s shrill attack is off target and wrong, as usual. I just hope the good professor can work through the humiliation of his debate performance against me and will soon stop being driven to post silly attacks because of his feelings of inadequacy. I’m pulling for him,”

Krugman alleged Scarborough didn’t offer any evidence for his assertion that the books are being cooked; nonetheless, he attempts to move the ball forward here by conceding that the change might not have been wise; Scarborough ignores that, and declines to offer evidence for his assertion (or address the charge) opting instead for a textbook ad hominem.  This is how you make the big money folks.

On a related matter: could the authors at Salon and Talking Points Memo stop describing such interactions as “slams” or “rips”?  It’s dumb.

Things that are very different part 1487

Image of the battle against Obamacare, 2013

Yesterday, Nelson Mandela died.  This somehow prompted Rick Santorum, former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, to equate Mandela’s epic struggle against Apartheid with the GOP battle against Obamacare and fictional government enlargement:

“Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that. That’s the reason he’s mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed,” Santorum said. “But you’re right, I mean, what he was advocating for was not necessarily the right answer, but he was fighting against some great injustice, and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that.”

Where do these people come from?

Not the Onion, part 342

Thighmaster General

While Scott and Rob argue their minds to the bone on the place of rationality in political discourse, the Wall Street Journal publishes an error-filled op-ed (in a section called “The Experts”) by Suzanne Somers, of Three’s Company and Thighmaster fame.  Here’s how it begins:

First of all, let’s call affordable health care what it really is: It’s socialized medicine.

I’ve had an opportunity to watch the Canadian version of affordable health care in action with all its limitations with my Canadian husband’s family. A few years ago, I was startled to see the cover of Maclean’s, a national Canadian magazine, showing a picture of a dog on an examining table with the headline, “Your Dog Can Get Better Health Care Than You.” It went on to say that young Canadian medical students have no incentive to become doctors to humans because they can’t make any money. Instead, there is a great surge of Canadian students becoming veterinarians. That’s where the money is. A Canadian animal can have timely MRIs, surgeries and any number of tests it needs to receive quality health care.

So the reason the Affordable Care Act, i.e., Obamacare, is a failure, is because the Canadian system, to which ACA is completely unrelated, is also a failure, according to the cover of a Canadian magazine (the original version of Somer’s op-ed said it was a horse, not a dog).

This would be hilarious if it were not the Wall Street Journal.

As always, the Onion already kind of called it.

Dumb and dumber

The other day I linked to an article about an unfortunate consequence uncovered by some research in cognitive psychology: some argumentation, however good (conclusive or decisive), reinforces the ignorance of the person who is wrong.  Arguing with someone who is wrong, but steadfast in her wrongness, just makes everything worse.

This Onion article makes a related, and equally chilling point:

SEATTLE—As debate continues in Washington over the funding of President Obama’s health care initiative, sources confirmed Thursday that 39-year-old Daniel Seaver, a man who understands a total of 8 percent of the Affordable Care Act, offered a vehement defense of the legislation to 41-year-old Alex Crawford, who understands 5 percent of it.

The conclusion:

“Hold on, Alex, let’s go back to the premiums for a second, because I feel like I need to drive this point home for you: they’ll get lower for most people,” said Seaver, straining the very limits of his 8 percent comprehension of the bill to the point of utter collapse. “Lower premiums, lower deductibles, and no denial of coverage to people with preexisting conditions.”

“Way lower premiums,” Seaver added.

At press time, both men’s understanding of Obamacare had dropped to 3 percent as a result of the debate.

I think this problem is undertheorized, but then again I don’t really know this literature.