The only thing missing from President Obama's Rose Garden press conference Tuesday was a "Mission Accomplished" banner. He bragged that 7 million people have “signed up” through the health exchanges and claimed it was a “big step forward.”
Americans are smart to be skeptical about these assertions. After all, this is the president who told us, "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, period." He said, “If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan, period.” He claimed the average family's health insurance costs would go down by $2,500 per year. To add to these lies, he has ignored the economic damage done to individuals who have lost their jobs, seen their hours cut, and had their wages lowered as a result of his signature achievement in office.
Back in the Rose Garden the president meandered into a brief moment of honesty: “The Affordable Care Act is working. It is doing exactly what it is supposed to do.”
Force people on to government-approved plans and limit their health care options. Check.
Require millions of people to pay for services they’ll never use, such as seniors with adult children paying for maternity care. Check.
Vacuum great sums of wealth from the middle class and put it under the control of government bureaucrats. Check.
Unfortunately for the president, this was all news to the American people who are chomping at the bit to voice their disapproval for Obamacare at the ballot box this year. That's why, in a cynical attempt to save the Democratic majority in the Senate and what's left of his failed administration, the president has delayed, repealed, and waived parts of Obamacare more than 30 times. Because it's “working.”
But he can only forestall the day of reckoning so long. Time is not on his side and studies are already being published that shine a light of truth on the president’s exaggerations, falsehoods and outright lies.
Both McKinsey and Goldman Sachs have reported that just 14 percent of Obamacare “enrollments” are previously uninsured people who have actually paid their first month's premium - less than 1 million of the 7 million the president brags about. A soon-to-be-released RAND study apparently suggests the real number of paid, previously uninsured enrollments is closer to 12 percent of what the president claims.
Meanwhile, premiums have increased by $2,900 per family per year, millions have lost health insurance altogether, businesses are being forced to let workers go or cut hours, and absolutely nothing is being done to improve the quality of health care.
The good news is that the final chapter on the president’s disastrous health insurance takeover has not been written. Conservatives are making a strong comeback with concrete proposals that, if enacted, would create real progress toward better healthcare outcomes for all Americans.
Reformers in both the House and the Senate, as well as candidates across the country, are hard at work developing new, patient-centered reforms to control health care costs, ensure access to affordable coverage for all Americans, and provide extra help for the poor and the sick.
For the next seven months, conservatives should have an honest conversation with the American people about the problems with the president’s health care law and the solutions we have to fix them.
Obama and the Democrats have done everything they can to deserve defeat in November. But the Republican Party has not yet done what it must to deserve victory. We have not yet won back the trust of the American people, or explained exactly why they should give it to us. 2014 must be the year we change that.
Republicans cannot win the healthcare debate until we effectively communicate our solutions to the problems that plague working families. If we are unwilling or unclear, the president will continue to mislead, government will continue to grow, and our healthcare system will continue to unravel.
The American people deserve more than Obama’s false choice between big-government solutions and cold indifference. By articulating a conservative vision for the American people, Republicans can build trust and offer honest solutions. Our mission has only begun.
Mike Lee is a Republican senator from Utah. Ben Sasse, president of Midland University, is a Republican Senate candidate from Nebraska. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions for editorials, available at this link.