LePage still hyperbolic on and mischaracterizing Obamacare

Now that Governor LePage has issued a non-apology apology for referring to the IRS as “the Gestapo,” it’s time to pause and say two things.

One, although the statement is not really an apology, it’s good that the governor walked back this outrageous statement — even as it’s quite amazing that, before he did so, several Maine Republican leaders jumped in to defend him. 

Update: The governor’s press statement was far more polite than his words to a reporter: “It was never intended to offend anyone and if someone’s offended, then they ought to be goddamned mad at the federal government.”

See the full footage of the governor’s remarks:

Two, he’s still hyperbolic on Obamacare. Like Sarah Palin saying that, with Obamacare being upheld by the Supreme Court, ‘freedom dies” the governor continues to make highly overheated and inaccurate claims.

LePage’s new press statement says, “Obamacare is forcing the American people to buy health insurance or else pay a tax.” Yet only 7% of Americans fall under the mandate and estimates are that 1-2% will pay it. It’s only 1% in Massachusetts. (See my “Mandate Myths” and Theda Skocpol’s (pdf) “The Truth About the Individual Mandate in Health Reform.“)

LePage’s new press statement says, “Our health care system is moving toward one that rations care and negatively impact millions of Americans,” yet before the ACA the U.S. had a system where insurance companies rationed care, there was no requirement to cover preventive care, people with pre-existing conditions often could not get insurance, and tens of millions had no insurance.

LePage’s new press statement says, “We no longer are a free people,” yet this is the same system as the Republican presidential nominee adopted in a nearby state and people there seem not to find their freedoms constrained. Rather, people can start their own businesses, secure that they can buy insurance for themselves and families.

LePage continues to see a differential tax rate based on behavior as somehow unprecedented. Yet homebuyers get tax deductions, as do people paying for childcare and college tuition.  Have their freedoms been curtailed? And, while some will certainly reply that none of these people have to pay for these things, the truth is that we all are paying for people who lack care right now.

LePage’s “Gestapo” radio address misrepresented the taxation involved with Obamacare. Ten times more money is going to American families than will be paid. A family making $40,000 can receive a $10,000 subsidy via a tax credit – not a deduction — but a credit.  LePage has yet to acknowledge this very substantial amount of money going to American families so they can be free from the fear that people experience without medical insurance. It’s unclear to me if he doesn’t know the basics of how the ACA works or if he is not being honest in his statements.

But one thing is certain — the hyperbole is continuing and it is incumbent on supporters of the ACA to explain it, over and over again. Tell the truth – and keep telling it.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.