From the moment liberal blogger Ezra Klein launched Vox as an “explanatory journalism” project, it has exemplified the prevailing conceits of the modern American Left. Sometimes useful, frequently ideological, and more than occasionally embarrassing, the work of Vox’s self-stylized wonks is required reading among those news consumers whose unshakable faith in their own intellectual superiority is a boundless source of smug satisfaction. Klein’s latest dispatch serves up a delicious premise to these eager members of the so-called “reality-based community:” President Obama’s health care law has been a big success in the real world (Vox has offered countless variations on this same argument), yet it remains unpopular in many quarters because too many Americans have been fed misinformation by unscrupulous conservative media sources. These sources, it goes without saying, are run by vulgar partisans — Hot Air gets a shout-out in the piece — whose fealty to the facts is far less fervent than the selfless servants of truth who populate Vox’s editorial team. Klein’s conclusion:
On the whole, though, costs are lower than expected, enrollment is higher than expected, the number of insurers participating in the exchanges is increasing, and more states are joining the Medicaid expansion. Millions of people have insurance who didn’t have it before. The law is working. But a lot of the people who are convinced Obamacare is a disaster will never know that, because the voices they trust will never tell them.
“The law is working,” and the American people might understand that better if they weren’t subjected to the right-wing media’s ruthless conspiracy to deny them the truth. (Strangely, this powerful, narrative-dominating cabal was incapable of defeating a weak incumbent president two years ago). As one of the alleged merchants of deceit, I’m more than willing to stipulate that (a) certain critics’ doomsday predictions haven’t panned out (see, for instance, Klein’s example of insurer participation in some exchanges), and (b) that the law has, in fact, helped some people. A recent Kaiser Foundation poll found that 14 percent of Americans say the ‘Affordable’ Care Act has impacted their family for the better. The trouble is that twice that number said they’ve been directly harmed by the law, which was marketed as a win-win for all consumers. Numerous national surveys have consistently tracked the same two-to-one, hurt-to-helped ratio. People’s actual experiences are not a product of propaganda-driven confusion. Setting aside Klein’s faulty presupposition that the expansion of Medicaid is an unalloyed good, his first two points fail rudimentary scrutiny. Beyond the cloistered world of the goalpost-shifting wonkosphere, costs are most assuredly not “lower than expected,” nor is enrollment “higher than expected.” Allow me to try my hand at explanatory journalism: