According to MSNBC's Michael Smerconish, it's Barack Obama who is owed the "real apology" for the disastrous rollout of the health care law. Filling in for Chris Matthews, the Hardball guest host huffed, "The facts are that many of the same people that feel betrayed now will be thanking the President later." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Lecturing the 52 million Americans who have lost their insurance, Smerconish added, "These are people in so-called junk plans that could bankrupt them and their families if they ever got sick." Displaying MSNBC logic, the host identified who should actually be asking for forgiveness on ObamaCare: "As Republicans revel in the President's comments, we should ask who should offer the real apology here?"
Smerconish explained why Americans should just accept the inferiority of their old plans: "The new plans may cost a little more than they're used to, but ask anyone who's been bankrupted by getting cancer or couldn't afford treatment, they'll tell you in no uncertain terms the plans are worth it."
Of course, Smerconish didn't mention people who are losing what they consider to be good insurance and not "junk." Even the liberal Pro-Publica found an example:
San Francisco architect Lee Hammack says he and his wife, JoEllen Brothers, are "cradle Democrats." They have donated to the liberal group Organizing for America and worked the phone banks a year ago for President Obama’s re-election.
Since 1995, Hammack and Brothers have received their health coverage from Kaiser Permanente, where Brothers worked until 2009 as a dietitian and diabetes educator. "We’ve both been in very good health all of our lives – exercise, don’t smoke, drink lightly, healthy weight, no health issues, and so on," Hammack told me.
The couple — Lee, 60, and JoEllen, 59 — have been paying $550 a month for their health coverage — a plan that offers solid coverage, not one of the skimpy plans Obama has criticized. But recently, Kaiser informed them the plan would be canceled at the end of the year because it did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The couple would need to find another one. The cost would be around double what they pay now, but the benefits would be worse.
The Philadelphia radio host managed to admit that the implementation of ObamaCare has been a "mess." But he blamed the GOP for most of it: "Now, let's not forget this is the party that has peddled some of the most wild and ludicrous lies to its constituents about the President's health care law.
On Friday, NBC's Today told viewers that the President "didn't intentionally" lie about ObamaCare.
Smerconish should talk to his former MSNBC colleague, Dylan Ratigan. Ratigan recently (and very loudly) complained about losing a health care plan he liked.
A transcript of the November 11 Hardball segment is below:
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: Sorry seems to be the hardest word -- for Republicans. Let's play Hardball.
SMERCONISH: Good evening. I'm Michael Smerconish, in for Chris Matthews.
Leading off tonight: Who deserves the real apology here? Agreement in Washington is a rare thing, but there's widespread recognition that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been a mess. President Obama himself has acknowledged that his baby, what he's been fighting for these last four years, is sick. He's owned up to the failures of his team, which botched the Web site's launch. And last night, in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, he owned up to a failure of his own, that people feel betrayed by a promise he made them but couldn't keep, a promise that they could keep their insurance if they liked it. Let's listen to the President.
BARACK OBAMA: Well, first of all, I meant what I said, and we worked hard to try to make sure that we implemented it properly. But obviously, we didn't do a good enough job, and I regret that. I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me. We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we're going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.
SMERCONISH: The facts are that many of the same people that feel betrayed now will be thanking the President later. These are people in so-called junk plans that could bankrupt them and their families if they ever got sick. The new plans may cost a little more than they're used to, but ask anyone who's been bankrupted by getting cancer or couldn't afford treatment, they'll tell you in no uncertain terms the plans are worth it.
The Republican response to President Obama has been a predictable cocktail of distraction and politics. Republican House Speaker John Boehner had this response. Quote, "An apology is certainly in order, but what Americans want to hear is that the President is going to keep his promise. That's why the House will vote next week to allow anyone with a health care plan they like to keep it."
Now, let's not forget this is the party that has peddled some of the most wild and ludicrous lies to its constituents about the President's health care law. This is the party that did everything it could to sabotage the law, and then cried crocodile tears when its rollout ran aground. This is the party that nearly sent the country into an economic tailspin in an attempt to kill the law, all the while knowing they'd lose. And it's the party whose governors have turned down the law's expansion of Medicaid, which would have given five million poor people insurance at virtually no cost to their states. As Republicans revel in the President's comments, we should ask who should offer the real apology here?