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October 25, 2014

Misremembering Obamacare

Megan McArdle defends the spotty memories of Obamacare supporters, Jonathan Gruber and Jonathan Cohn, regarding the issue of whether Obamacare only allowed subsidies to be given out on state exchanges.

“But in this case, I am not stretching to my utmost to give Messrs. Gruber and Cohn the benefit of the doubt. I said that I thought Gruber was being sincere because, well, I genuinely think he’s being sincere. I believe this even more strongly of Cohn, who has always been fair and honorable in his analysis and our few personal interactions.”

“At least some of the liberal analysts who were intimately familiar with the details of the law did indeed believe that premium subsidies would only be available on state exchanges. But I disagree that Cohn and Gruber were being dishonest when they said otherwise. I think they just forgot.”

“This is particularly true when there is an answer people very much want to get to. It’s called hindsight bias: Once we know the ‘correct’ answer, we tend to believe that we would have figured that out even without being told.”

“Misremembering is not lying … a memory that bolsters your preferred narrative is not one you’re going to ferociously interrogate. This is just human nature. It doesn’t mean that Cohn and Gruber are being dishonest; it just means they’re human.”

  • Lorehead

    She’s correct about hindsight bias, but as for the sentence in question, it’s obviously an error because there are words missing from it. It’s not even grammatical.

    As she observes, this is something both sides do; I frequently hear Republicans today insist that the Democrats locked the Republicans out of the room when drafting Obamacare, when in fact they negotiated with Republicans for months, and Olympia Snowe even voted for the bill she helped write in committee.

    • EricFromTheHill

      McArdle also conveniently “forgets” to mention that while one court granted her a desired result, another court slapped down the challenge. Of course, that decision doesn’t get the air time because it’s not rife with conflict and thus primed for sensationalization.

      Let’s also not overlook the fact that even Republican congressional aides have been admitting that the law was intended to provide subsidies through federal exchanges. She’s confusing the issue because she knows, again, that her side is bound to lose the argument- there’s just no solid case for this challenge.

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