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August 19, 2013 12:15 PM Obamacare and Big Lies

By Ed Kilgore

A lot of the “debate” over the Affordable Care Act is based on extraordinary fables spun by its opponents with greater or lesser consciousness of their mendacity. The all-time howler, of course, was the “death panel” meme. We will never know if Sarah Palin knew that this was was horrific act of slander when she casually fanned it on her Facebook page. At the time, I figured it was just another one of her many dog-whistles to her fans in the antichoice movement, who are forever accusing liberals of wanting to kill off old folks and people with disabilities along with the unborn. But the meme developed a life of its own, and this preposterous lie remains gospel truth to millions of people.

We’ve seen a similar act of astonishing mendacity much more recently with conservative outrage over the “exemption of Congress from Obamacare.” Check out this tirade last week from the Washington Times’ Charles Hurt under the headline: “Obamacare exemption: none dare call it treason.”

Had we innocent, taxpaying citizens not long ago lost our capacity to be outraged by the disgraceful manner in which this place operates, we would already be in all-out political revolt. Against President Obama. Against Democrats in Congress. And, especially, Republicans.
Literally, revolutionary wars have been fought over less.
Last week, while many Americans spent hard-saved money on long-overdue vacations, the snakes and weasels inside the federal bureaucracy schemed until they hatched an evil plan. It would feather their own nests with more of your money, protect themselves from the ravages of the laws they foist upon us, desecrate our Constitution and then smear us with insult so putrid it would make a roadside vulture gag.
All the legal, constitutional and parliamentary maneuvering is enough to confuse Albert Einstein, but here is the bottom line: Congress and staff managed to get themselves exempted from the single, most-punishing aspect of Obamacare.

Trouble is, of course, that the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act are not being “foisted” on non-congressional folk in employer-sponsored health plans. A Republican amendment was offered uniquely placing Congress and its staff into the exchanges in order, as Jonathan Chait reminded us recently, to give right-wing gabbers a talking point. But it passed, which was the entirely ludicrous thing that the Obama administration managed to fix administratively by maintaining current federal subsidies for the congressional employees now obtaining insurance through the exchanges.

But hey, if you’ve been arguing all along, as many conservatives have, that Obamacare will eventually force everyone out of their existing health plans into the exchanges, why not just transform that far-fetched theory into a fact and get outraged because congressional employees have “escaped” the imaginary inferno? Once you accept the big lies, the little ones come naturally and often.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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