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Chaffetz: Deception of Americans is never acceptable

Published November 14, 2013 10:05 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In the face of the failure of President Obama's now infamous promise — that if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, it is curious to read the sanguine response to this deception from some in the media.

Recently The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board argued that while the president "should have been" aware that his campaign promises were untrue, it is "sometimes better to ask for forgiveness than permission." Incredulously, the Tribune goes on to point out that "if you slow down to see what other people think, chances are high that you will meet delay, resistance and frustration."

No doubt many Third World dictators would agree. But in our system of government, delay, resistance and frustration are a feature, not a bug.

Our system was designed to facilitate open discussion, give-and-take negotiation and to impose checks and balances. Each of these elements takes time. No one would argue that decisions could be made more quickly by one dictator than by 535 diverse members of Congress. But our forefathers rejected concentrated power for a reason.

While no one enjoys the gridlock and infighting that can accompany our form of government, it is a small price to pay for government of the people, by the people and for the people. I remain committed to President Lincoln's belief, memorialized in the Gettysburg Address, that a nation so conceived can long endure.

I emphatically reject the implication that in the case of the president's false promises on Obamacare — that if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan — the ends justify the means. If a policy is sound, an elected official doesn't have to deceive the public about the consequences of that law. He can simply make the case and trust the American people to act in their own best interest.

Elected officials should neither accidentally nor intentionally deceive voters. Doing so is an indication that the elected official either doesn't trust Americans to make wise choices, that he does trust them, but has to mislead them in order to hide serious flaws in the legislation, or simply doesn't trust his own ability to make a convincing argument in favor of the policy.

If, as the Tribune argues, Americans whose insurance policies are being canceled will be better off with higher value policies purchased on the exchanges, why didn't Obama just tell them that when Obamacare was being debated? If the president really thought many of the policies on the individual market were garbage, as the Tribune maintains, he should have said so. That would have allowed Americans to evaluate these claims on their merits instead of having to rely on the judgment of the president and his cheerleaders in the press.

The traditional role of the American press was to call out elected officials when they lie, not to make excuses for the ones with which the media agrees. The American people deserve an honest debate. They deserve honest leaders. And they deserve to be trusted with the hard truths about the economic realities we face.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz represents Utah's 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.






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