The Pitchman

In Obamacare speech, I Was Reminded of Circus Carnies

“The product is good. The health insurance that’s being provided is good. It’s high quality, and it’s affordable,” that’s what the president said and he kept on pitching his product,  “People can save money — significant money — by getting insurance that’s being provided through these marketplaces.”

How much would you pay for a health plan like this? Before you answer, listen to this:

Obama touting Obamacare
Obama touting Obamacare

“No one who decides to buy a plan has to pay their first premium until December 15th. And unlike the day after Thanksgiving sales for the latest PlayStation or flat-screen TVs, the insurance plans don’t run out.” 

And that’s only the beginning.

“The Affordable Care Act is not just a Web site. It’s much more,” Obama said. “Billions of dollars have been saved by seniors already. That’s part of the law. It’s already in place. It’s happening right now.”

Wow I want that!  I will pay whatever it takes to get that marvelous insurance plan. 

“Nearly six in 10 uninsured Americans will find that they can get coverage for less than $100 a month,” the president went on and on and on. “Through the marketplaces, you can get health insurance for what may be the equivalent of your cellphone bill. Or your cable bill. And that’s a good deal. ... And that product is working. It’s really good.”

He reminds me of when those Ginsu knives were pushed… ‘and If you act now, you’ll also get the matching carving fork, the versatile six-in-one kitchen tool, a set of six steak knives and the spiral slicer — all for $9.95.’   And Barack continues…

“I want the checkout lines to be smooth. So I want people to be able to get this great product,” said the president of the United States, even giving out the toll-free number from the presidential podium. “Call centers are already up and running, and you can get your questions answered by real people, 24 hours a day, in 150 different languages. The phone number for these call centers is 1-800-318-2596. I want to repeat that: 1-800-318-2596.”

It was quite a pitch — a bit too needy for my taste. And then, as Obama was closing his ACA infomercial, a woman standing right behind him fainted and the people nearby caught her; Obama turned around to help. “This happens when I talk too long,” he quipped.

Talking too long, but after all, that’s what he does best. Obama’s pitch carried a tone of desperation, perhaps because he feels too few are signing up for ACA and it has him squirming. The product he rolled out three weeks ago was seriously defective.  And why?  His personal website functioned great and helped immeasurably to choose him, both times.

His administration says the widespread registration problems on are just “glitches” and “kinks.” But the difficulties see much bigger.  Unless millions of people sign up for the health-care exchanges, Obamacare will be in trouble. And of course you cannot get an honest answer from his administration about how many have signed up. The screw-up, Obama acknowledged, has emboldened opponents and unnerved supporters. Stealing the headlines of the past couple of weeks has been the shutdown of government and the debt ceiling.  If not for those happenings Obama’s blunder would have been a major story.

Pitchman Obama has played the part before when he bailed out the auto industry (“starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warranty”) and stabilized home mortgages (“If you are having problems with your mortgage, and even if you’re not and you just want to save some money, you can go to”). But this time he knows that if Obamacare fails, so will Obama and his party.

The Rose Garden at the White House had about 200 people (reporters joked that this was the total number of people nationwide who successfully navigated, including some in white coats.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius nodding along from the front row of the audience, the commander-in-chief hawked health-care plans the way George Foreman sells grills and James Dyson sells vacuums.

He began with a happy customer’s testimonial. Janice Baker, the first person to register for Obamacare in Delaware, pronounced herself “thrilled,” and she encouraged others to be patient. Obama followed with his hard sell: “Prices have come down. … There’s a massive demand for it. … Visited nearly 20 million times. … A good deal at low costs. … People are rushing. … Thrilled with the result. … Exceeding expectations.”

The salesman said he wouldn’t sugarcoat the failures, which he’s addressing with a “tech surge.” Said Obama: “Nobody’s madder than me about the fact that the website isn’t working as well as it should, which means it’s going to get fixed.”

That’s important. If Obama can’t fix the problems, and quickly, the opposition will slice and dice Obamacare and make it into Julienne fries — and no sales pitch will save it.





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