Greg Abbott Gets Obamacare All Wrong In Interview

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Greg Abbott gave an interview to San Antonio right-wing radio host Sean Rima to kick off the year. Unfortunately, he started 2014 by utterly lying about the Affordable Care Act, and showed his fundamental extremism.

Abbott started by making complaints about delays in the law. Look at the blockquote below:

Sean, listen, we are a nation of laws. Not a nation of men, that's one of the fundamental tenants of our nation. And the reason for it is we didn't want some dictator or king or monarch constantly changing the rules, applying one set of rules to one set of people and a different set of rules to a different set of people. And yet, we are living under the very doctrine that this country fought to escape from.

First of all — we're living “under the very doctrine” that spurred the American Revolution? That's literally insane, in that it lacks sanity. Abbott can call back when, for example, the U.S. is a colony, the colonizers' soldiers are living in our homes, and/or when bicontinental tea companies are paying (and often not even paying) ludicrously low tariffs to the detriment of the colonies.

To Abbott's dull point, the Obama administration has every right to implement the law of the land in the most effective way possible. It's perfectly legitimate to criticize the president's decisions on whether to delay parts of the law, as he did for some corporations and everyone who wants to keep junk health insurance for one more year, but it's within his purview. The point of government agencies is deliberate implementation of the law. Nothing the president has done has changed the content of the law. Nor can Greg Abbott point to a federal judge who has said anything of the sort.

More below the jump.Abbott and several other Republican Attorneys General recently sent a letter laying out complaints about Obamacare's implementation. The first part is echoing the earlier complaints about alleged illegality, and the second concerns Secretary Sebelius and the federal navigators helping states set up the exchanges. Here's how Abbott described this argument:

And that is one that focuses directly on Secretary Sebelius' negligence and failures as it concerns the navigators, and the dangers that the navigators are posing to Americans. And we offer some specific ideas about what the Health and Human Services department needs to do to make sure that Americans don't have their information compromised by these completely, inadequately trained and equipped navigators, who are signing up, I would say millions of Americans but we don't know how many people they're really signing up.

Read that last meandering sentence again. It makes no sense, and it has no backing. Health and Human Services has reported low numbers, increasing numbers, decreasing numbers, and steadying numbers of ACA sign-ups. It's pretty clear that in an effort to discredit the law — the law — and those implementing it, he's just throwing barbs out and hoping they pierce. He calls the navigators “inadequately trained and equipped,” which is really a reference to how heavily Republican-led states, like Texas, are successfully kneecaping the navigators' ability to operate. The navigators are not posing any “dangers” to Americans by trying to make getting health insurance easier. It's Republican naysayers like Abbott who endanger Americans' health.

Abbott then refers to a James O'Keefe sting video in which three local Dallas Obamacare navigators-in-training tell someone they don't need to report cash from odd jobs to keep premiums lower. That was an unfortunate and wrong piece of advice — and the local organization in charge of those volunteers has let them go — but it hasn't really anything that would indicate such instructions came down from the federal level. In fact, it would make any sense if it did.

And so if they're willing to urge other people to engage in defrauding their own federal government, can we trust these people with our own personal, private information? And the answer, of course, is no.

The facts say that claim is a broad stroke with a dirty brush. It need not faze anyone, and Abbott's willingness to generalize from it is the dishonest politics we all cringe at.

Note that, at his core, Abbott doesn't seem to have any suggestions about what to do about America's otherwise failed health insurance system. We trail the developed world in insured citizens, and all Abbott can muster is half-baked criticism of the Affordable Care Act.

He's running to be governor of the state that does the worst in health care, and he's got nothing but letters and lawsuits against the federal government to point to. Abbott doesn't operate with the same linguistic swagger that Perry does (from the accent to the phrasing), but the simple inaccuracy of his claims and the shallowness of his thinking is the exact same.


About Author

Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman has been a BOR staff writer since 2011. A graduate of the University of Texas, Ben has worked on campaigns, in political consulting, and has written for other news outlets like Think Progress. Ben considers campaign finance reform the fundamental challenge of our time because it distorts almost every other issue in American politics.

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