November 17th, 2013
10:20 AM ET
5 years ago

Clyburn: Obama failed to explain health care promise

Washington (CNN) – The No. 3 House Democrat on Sunday blamed a culture of sound bites for President Barack Obama's reneged promise that Americans would be able to keep their existing health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act.

"And this is a sound bite that the President probably needed to take some more time to explain to the American people," Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley."

After millions of people received cancellation notices for their health plans, Obama faced considerable pushback over his promise to Americans that the new health care reform would not affect those who are already happy with their insurance policies.

"If you like your health insurance, you can keep it," Obama repeatedly told Americans when selling his signature piece of legislation.

After that turned out not to be the case, Obama on Thursday announced his administration would allow insurance companies to extend those canceled policies for a year.

Clyburn, the House assistant Democratic leader, said Obama relied too heavily on a sound bite-friendly selling point, rather than spelling out that he was only referring to plans in place before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010 and hadn't changed since.

Fact Check: If you liked your health plan, you can keep your health plan

"One of the things in Washington that I dislike more than anything else is when people say to me, 'If you're explaining it, you're losing it.' I don't like that at all. I really believe the American people are deserving of explanations," he said, also blaming the media for not fully explaining the new legislation.

With recent polls showing the President is considered less trustworthy than in the past, Obama on Thursday said he expects he'll need to regain Americans' faith after the rocky rollout of and his broken promise about existing plans.

Clyburn said he was confident Obama can do so.

"Paradise lost, paradise regained. When you lose something you can find it again," he said. "The President admitted that he expects to be held responsible for regaining the Americans' trust, and I think he will."

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soundoff (375 Responses)
  1. jedibez

    tony – you realize that most insurance companies profit margin is in the 3-5% range, right??

    November 17, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  2. Jim M

    Obamacare is nothing but a redistribution scheme. Higher premiums for all to cover maternity, the sick, the old, but the low income people end up with subsidies to pay the higher cost. The higher income people have no subsidies and get stuck with the higher premiums and deductibles.
    This is what Obama promised when he talked about "spreading around" the income, your income.

    November 17, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  3. Zondar

    Single payer? Ha.

    Anyone remember the Social Security Trust Fund?

    Congress never met a dollar it didn't want to spend.

    November 17, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  4. MIchael Girouare

    I don;t think it's the President's fault that Americans can't process more than 10 seconds worth of information at a time.

    November 17, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  5. Shelia

    The administration of excuses

    November 17, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  6. Shelia

    Democrats are making the American people out to be fools

    November 17, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  7. Bob

    Another lie told to defend a lie.

    November 17, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  8. Get Real "Real Truth"

    Guys, wait until all the employer based insurance goes the same route next year. Then instead of what the dems want to tell you is a small 5% of the insured being impacted it will be the rest of us working middle class that take the pipe. The people that steamrolled this law into place had no clue what they were voting on.

    November 17, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  9. JC

    It all started with a woman; a woman who wanted more than anything else to be king. Her name was Nancy Pelosi, and she lead her party straight to hell in an attempt to get what she wanted. You see, in an effort to spite the Republican party, she looked around for the biggest form of entitlement that could be rammed down the collective GOP throat (In those days, remember, the democrats had the majority in both houses). So she looked around, looked at the democratic contributors, and realized that they could not regulate the insurance industry, nor could they regulate the medical industry. After all, if they did that, who would pay them? Not the American people; they had never worked for their voters, but rather for the people with money who could get them re-elected. So they picked the American people to be the beasts of burden for yet another unnecessary bureaucracy. You see, they could simply have reformed Medicare; they could have expanded where needed and reformed where needed. Medicare was already in place. But that wasn't good enough for Pelosi. So they created a new idea out of guesses and magic and assumptions, and rammed it down the president's throat. It cost them horribly, of course. In the long run, it cost her the majority, it cost many of her supporting cast their seats, and it cost the president what little integrity he had left (which, after allowing Bush's infringements on the Constitution, and the cover-up over Benghazi, wasn't really very much). And now, later, long after those who should have read what they were signing, instead of merely taking their analysts words for it, can do anything to retract it, we are struck with one of the most poorly-crafted pieces of garbage ever to come out of any flavor of Congress. And what else would they name it but the best oxymoron of all time "Affordable Care Act." It does NOTHING to control costs; it merely forces the American people to pay them, while those who crafted it sit and enjoy the best medical care known to man, for free, at our expense. And NOW the very same democrats who have lied about the economy, lied about the actual wording of the law, lied about the actual cost of the law, and lied about how the bill will be paid have the unmitigated gall to claim surprise? When you lie to the public, that's policy; but what is it when a government lies to itself?

    November 17, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  10. Thomas Nichols

    I never believed anything he's ever said about healthcare because it all proves, each time he says something about the industry, he knows nothing about the industry.

    November 17, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  11. Leonardo Riera

    Obama won't be re-gaining my confidence ... he never had it. We knew this President was hiding things, covering Benghazi, etc. I mostly blame the liberal media, they have a critical part of this conspiracy.

    November 17, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  12. srcactus

    To the single payer affectionados, so how's that ACA single web site workin' for ya?
    The only assurance a bconsumer can possible have is for the vendor to be held accountable and the only reliable source for vendor accountability in commerce is competition.

    November 17, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  13. Scott

    Of course he sold it in sound bites. The American public doesn't have the desire to really learn about an issue. Negative adds work for the same reason. It is a huge our gov is so messed up. Sorry to say sound bites work.

    November 17, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  14. ya right!

    Bush did the same thing to start two wars, the this article's point is?

    November 17, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. john

    "If you like your health insurance, you can keep it," Obama repeatedly told Americans when selling his signature piece of legislation.

    They forgot the Period. Period Period Period.

    November 17, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  16. Mike Brown

    Obama simply took a page out of LBJ's playbook. Johnson was not truthful about all the programs he pushed either. As Americans, we mostly are not interested in the hard facts. We just want to feel good and worry about the facts later, much later.

    November 17, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  17. Siege

    So now it is the sound bite's fault. I see.

    November 17, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  18. Cory111

    It must be very difficult for ACA bashers as they beat up on their keyboards all the while there is absolutely nothing else they can do. We will get the ACA site up and running “eventually” and once again your ranting and raving is to no avail that must hurt.
    But I’m very please to see “The Bashers” post, “I tried again to get into the site and could not.” Odd they should want to get into a program they keep knocking. I wonder could it possibly be it’s not the program that has their attention or possibly something a bit more colorful?
    Hillary 2016

    November 17, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. Ron L

    I support the President, but there really is no excuse for him not understanding that the insurance for about 5% of Americans would definitely change. Having said that, America needs tor remember, The system we had before was EXTREMELY flawed as well. The ACA needs to be modified not destroyed.

    November 17, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  20. elliott carlin

    Clyburn is either ignorant or disingenuous. Neither answer is good.

    November 17, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  21. Greg

    I voted for him and my insurance was cancelled! Im ashamed of myself as I fell for his nonsense.

    November 17, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  22. Joel

    The insurance companies sent those notices to amp up the emotional strain.

    November 17, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  23. b87

    The reality is that all along Obamacare could only work if some people ended up paying more for health care (insurance) than they would have otherwise. This includes the young, those that are generally healthy, and those that don't require many of the new areas of coverage mandated by the law (e.g., birth control, maternity, mental illness treatments). Otherwise, unless these and other groups pay more, there isn't any way to make the numbers work. It would have been nice for Obama to make this clear at the outset rather than trying to hide it with sound bites. A real leader would have called upon the citizens to ante up since (1) we are all in this together, (2) everyone benefits indirectly from a healthier population and (3) while some people may be net losers today, those same people may be net winners in the future - just like with Social Security. Instead, we got sound bites from a President trying to be too clever by half.

    November 17, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |

    I don't see how sound bites matter when almost none of the "super majority" that pass this even read the bill including the president. In short, it's the usual result of letting Washington handle something of this sort – a mess.

    November 17, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  25. Larry I in L.A.

    Whatever your feelings are toward the ACA, Rep. Clyburn, Pres. Obama or liberals as a whole, I hope you would agree that Clyburn’s adage “If you’re explaining it, you’re losing it” is bad for all Americans. The truth is that the answer to almost any question that affects a nation of 300 million is “It depends”, but wishy-washy doesn’t win votes. Any time a politician makes what sounds like an absolute declaration, it’s a good idea to imagine the motor-mouthed guy who ends every prescription drug commercial with a barely-understandable laundry list of disclaimers. For what it’s worth, I’ve been self-employed for years and my health insurer is cancelling my individual plan at the end of this year. Admittedly, it was very annoying to be forced to find new insurance, but I am reasonably satisfied with the results: slightly higher monthly premiums but lower co-payments and lower out-of-pocket maximums. Your experience may be different, but it’s not the total disaster some would have you believe.

    November 17, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
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