On Saturday, December 28, former Vice President and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden held a campaign event in Washington, Iowa.
During a question and answer session, a young man asked Biden about his support for Obamacare:
I just need this question. So we’re going to take a trip back 2008 real quick. During the run-up to the passage of Obamacare, President Obama promised my father that if he likes his plan, he can keep his plan, and that his insurance will be cheaper. After passage, his plan was no longer allowed and his insurance costs doubled. Since you supported the plan, were you lying to my dad? Or did you not understand the bill you supported?
Biden began his answer with a what appears to have been a joke, the offered an incoherent ramble:
No, look, the fact is that what I’m talking about now is that when – because I get asked the question – since, what I do is I’d add a public option to the existence of Obamacare, meaning that a Medicare-like option is available if in fact you – but there’s 160 million people out there who’ve negotiated a health care plan with their employer that they like and they don’t want to have to give up like Medicare for All requires. It says you have to give it up. You cannot have any private insurance.
Biden then told the young man that costs have “gone down.”
What happened is, and by the way, the cost of Obamacare has gone down in the last two years, not up as you probably know, you seem to know this, number one.
Then, he talked about the fact that people shouldn’t be forced to give up their insurance plans:
Number two is that when you put yourself in a position of – I have faith in the American people – that if you’ve worked and given up significant portions of your salary over the last two, five, 10, 12 years to get a healthcare plan you like that you negotiated with an employer, then in fact, you should not be forced to give it up. You should have the choice. If you want to keep it, you can keep it. And if in fact the employer eliminates the plan, which he could, eliminates the plan, then you’d have the option to buy into a subsidized plan of Obamacare.
Following this, Biden spoke for another four minutes before arriving back at a semblance of an answer in which he noted that “no one did understand Obamacare.”
We’ve changed a lot of things for the better, and we’ve tried under five Democratic presidents, tried to change those things, and people say, “Well Biden, why now do you think you can add the public option and why can you further subsidize it?”
Well, because people, there’s two ways people know when something is important. One, when it’s so clear when it’s passed that everybody understands it – and no one did understand Obamacare, including the way it was rolled out.
And the gentleman’s right, he said, “You could keep your doctor if you wanted to,” and you couldn’t keep your doctor if you wanted to necessarily. He’s dead right about that. But the fact is that when something’s taken away, when you – people didn’t know. I used to say to President Obama, “Mr. President, why don’t you take a victory lap? You got this passed. Let people know exactly what’s happened.”
…And he’d say, “We don’t have time to take a victory lap. We have too many things we have to do.” So people didn’t know, and we lost the House of Representatives after that passed. And people attributed to the fact that Obamacare passed and that was one of the arguments made, whether it’s true or not.
In the end, Biden simply didn’t answer the young man’s very simple question.
Former President Obama’s promise that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” was ranked as Politifact’s 2013 “Lie of the Year.”
After the Obamacare rollout disaster, and at least 37 documented instances of Obama using the “keep your plan” phrase “without caveats,” reports Politifact, the president was forced to concede that what he claimed just wasn’t true.
Speaking with NBC’s Chuck Todd in November 2013, Obama said: “We weren’t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place, and I want to do everything we can to make sure that people are finding themselves in a good position, a better position than they were before this law happened. And I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me.”