Reid needs a dose of reality on Obamacare


Cartoonist Gary Larson once drew a scientist pictured on his back on his office floor, legs and arms straight up. The caption read: “How entomologists pass away.”

It tickled me to wonder how old politicians might meet their maker in a Larson cartoon.

Perhaps with a “poof” they’d turn into a smoking pile of ash after their umpteenth big, fat lie. The hand of God in the upper right panel with the caption: “Damn. Probably shouldn’t have done that, but I … just … couldn’t … take … it … anymore.”

Which brings to mind Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. He’s hard to take by any standard.

Like many Nevadans, I wish my U.S. senator a long life as an ex-senator, exiled to Searchlight beginning as soon as possible. I think I also speak for a good many Americans when I say that Sen. Reid could irritate the buzzards off of road kill.

Consider the Obamacare speech Harry gave on Feb. 26 on the U.S. Senate floor. He launched into a fatuous diatribe on the Koch brothers, calling them “un-American” for participating in the same political process in which he himself gleefully operates. But it’s not Harry’s hypocrisy that knows no bounds; it’s his willingness to lie in such embarrassing ways that astounds.

Here’s what he initially said that day:

“Despite all that good news, there’s plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue, but they’re being told all over America.”

All are untrue? That’s a spectacular lie, and Sen. Reid knew it.

In fact, when he made that statement from the U.S. Senate floor, he knew not “all” of the horror stories were untrue, because he and his staff were working to help a Nevada man fix his own Obamacare horror story.

A Las Vegas constituent of Reid’s by the name of Larry Basich bought health coverage through the Nevada Obamacare exchange last year. He paid his premiums and thought he was covered. In January and February, he incurred massive health bills, only to find out that through some kind of Obamacare bungling, he wasn’t covered until March.

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal described it, Basich was “stranded in a no-man’s-land where no carrier claims him, and his tab is mounting: Basich owes $407,000 for care received in January and February.”

That made Reid’s claim that “all Obamacare horror stories are false” nothing but a falsehood itself. It mustn’t be sloughed off as a “Reid-ism.”

Later in the day, after much derision from all quarters, Sen. Reid walked back his “all” claim, but didn’t elaborate. He left people to think that he just got carried away with his hyperbole regarding the Koch brothers.

But that wasn’t it at all. He knew he lied and realized he’d get caught sooner or later.

Then, to compound the lie, Reid took to the Senate floor again some 30 days later to complain about Republicans repeatedly calling Reid a liar.

“Mr. President, the junior senator from Wyoming has come to the floor several times recently talking about the fact that examples that he and other Republicans have given dealing with Obamacare — examples that they think are bad — I’ve called lies. Mr. President, that is simply untrue. I have never come to the floor to my recollection and never said a word about any of the examples that Republicans have given regarding Obamacare and how it’s not very good.”

Wow. Just wow. It all goes to show how hard it is for Reid to keep his story straight.

Here’s the straight story: The term “Obamacare” is rapidly becoming “(expletive) Obamacare” in the minds of Americans. Sen. Reid knows that from his own constituency.

The question isn’t whether there are problems with Obamacare, but is it fixable? Is this a nightmare, or is this the new reality?

That’s the frame of the argument. And Sen. Reid ought to get real about that. Aggressively disconnecting himself from reality doesn’t help anyone’s cause.

Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/sherman-frederick.