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I Ask Again: Can We Sue for Fraudulent Misrepresentation?

Posted By Don Boudreaux On October 29, 2013 @ 10:59 pm In Health,Myths and Fallacies,Politics | Comments Disabled

Here’s a headline on the home page now (10:37pm EDT, October 29, 2013) of the Washington Post:

Canceled policies spur furor over health-care law [1]

This headline gives you an accurate sense of the contents of the report – a report in which administration officials admit that, yes indeed, despite Pres. Obama’s assurances to the contrary, many people are not allowed to keep their existing health-care plans.  These people must switch to plans that have official government approval (which their existing plans do not).  And here’s a paragraph from that report:

While Republicans are insisting that the president misled the public about the effects of the law, others who are sympathetic to the administration said the seeming contradiction shows the difference between political talking points intended to sell a controversial law and the intricacies of the health policies that underlie it.

Note that the now-revealed error – some might call it a lie – of Pres. Obama’s vigorously repeated assurance that Obamacare will not force anyone to give up health-care plans that they like is called here a “seeming contradiction.”  But there’s nothing “seeming” about it; it’s a contradiction.  The president said that reality would be Z; the reality, as it turns out, is not-Z.

Even more disturbing, though, is the attempt by “others who are sympathetic to the administration” to explain away this “seeming contradiction” by figuratively harrumphing and pointing out the ‘reality’ of the “difference between political talking points intended to sell a controversial law and the intricacies of” the realities that underlie that legislation.  These administration sympathizers, in effect, excuse the president’s lying.  These ‘sympathizers’ have the gall to excuse a falsehood on the grounds that that falsehood was meant to “sell a controversial law.”

Suppose that a used-car salesman assures a customer that this baby of a 2006 Honda Accord really and truly, cross-his-heart-and-hope-to-die, will never cost more than $100 in annual maintenance expenses.  Then the buyer discovers that the car costs him $2,500 in annual maintenance expenses.  Can the used-car-salesman’s employer say – and get away with saying – “Oh, the seeming contradiction between Barry-the-saleman’s description of what the customer bought and what the customer actually bought shows the difference between the talking points of trying to sell a complicated vehicle and the realities of that vehicle.  The customer should be positively grateful for Barry-the-salesman’s misleading description, because, really, the car that Barry persuaded – with his misrepresentations – the customer to buy really is a much better vehicle, in our opinion, than what the customer would still be driving had Barry not been so persuasive in his sales tactics.”?

Some of the president’s most central and important claims about Obamacare are revealed now – and widely admitted – to be wrong.  If he were the CEO of a private company he would be sued, publicly lambasted by all the major media, perhaps hauled before an admittedly grandstanding Congressional committee, and possibly prosecuted, convicted, fined, or even imprisoned for fraudulent misrepresentation.  But because Obama is a politician, his misrepresentations are excused as simplifying descriptions aimed at persuading the doofus public to fall for legislation that they would not have fallen for had the president described that legislation honestly and accurately.

Politics is the profession of scoundrels.

UPDATE: David Henderson on the same fraudulent misrepresentation of Obamacare [2].

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URLs in this post:

[1] Canceled policies spur furor over health-care law: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/obama-accused-of-breaking-promise-to-consumers-as-health-plans-cancel-policies/2013/10/29/860bed32-40bf-11e3-a751-f032898f2dbc_story.html

[2] David Henderson on the same fraudulent misrepresentation of Obamacare: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2013/10/did_obama_break.html

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