The Politico.com headline would be funny if it were not so frustrating: “Right outraged at Census change.”
Conservatives are crying foul over changes to the U.S. Census that will affect data on the effects of Obamacare, though the Census Bureau insists the changes have been a long time coming and are not political.
Census Bureau officials said in an internal document that tweaks to the questions it asks to calculate the number of uninsured Americans means it will be difficult to measure the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the uninsured rate, The New York Times reported Tuesday, since the measurement will have changed in the span of implementation. The new methods are expected to lower the estimated number of uninsured Americans, regardless of the health law’s effects.
The White House says the tweaks will actually improve measurement of Obamacare, but conservatives have called the changes suspicious, accusing the Obama administration of trying to mask the law’s true effects.
So instead of a story about changes made in the census that will distort data and provide cover for Obamacare, Politico has made the story about “outrage” on the Right. It would never occur to the editors to headline a story on this subject: “Mainstream Media Pretends White House Census Coverup Was Just A Coincidence.”
First of all, no one denies that these changes do destroy the ability to track the effect of Obamacare. Consider how NPR reported the census change in a piece of typical regime propaganda:
One presumes we’d begin to get a handle on that when the Census Bureau puts out its annual numbers in the fall. Except officials have decided to change the way they ask their health insurance questions for the Current Population Survey. (That’s the study that produces the annual uninsured number.)
Those tweaks to the survey mean that, going forward, the uninsured numbers won’t really be comparable to those of past years. That has produced some significant upset in the research community.
“It is a very unfortunate set of decisions in my opinion,” says [Linda] Blumberg of the Urban Institute. “We have all used the Current Population Survey for trends for measuring insurance coverage … forever, it seems like, and we’re not going to be able to do that because of the question changes.”
If you listen to the audio you won’t hear anything in Blumberg’s comments that make it sound like she thinks this is anything other than a bizarre coincidence. The Urban Institute is not conservative. But she obviously acknowledges the problematic results.
We’re really supposed to believe that wasn’t done on purpose? Did no one and the White House imagine what this change would do to the possibility of tracking the effects of Obamacare. Megan McArdle claims that would be like “arguing that the George W. Bush administration might have inadvertently overlooked the possibility that when the U.S. invaded Iraq, there would be shooting.” Noah Rothman, at Mediaite, points out that the census was removed from the Commerce Department’s responsibilities and put under the direct authority of White House back in 2009. Now we know why.
What do we learn from this?
We learn that there is no lie so big that the Obama Administration won’t tell it and the media won’t cover for it. If this is what the White House is willing to do openly, then what have they been doing secretly?