Maybe you've heard about the beloved local ice cream company that's been forced to close its doors because of Obamacare? Earlier this week, Newt Gingrich shared the dreadful news with Sean Hannity on Hannity's radio show. It's awful, just awful, the two men agreed, that small businesses are being driven under by the "job-killing" Affordable Care Act. It didn't take me long to identify the company: Bonnie Doon Ice Cream Corp., an Indiana ice cream maker that also operated a chain of drive-in diners in Mishawaka, South Bend and Elkhart. Or to figure out that the Affordable Care Act probably has nothing to do with the business's failure.
There are real and substantial problems with the Affordable Care Act's website, serious enough to warrant remarks this morning from President Obama and "tech surge" at HHS. But for the law's critics, there's still an underlying problem: websites can be fixed. The merits of "Obamacare" are unaffected by online snafus, however irritating they may be.
And with this in mind, the right realizes it can't just jump up and down about a website that will get better; conservatives still need to go after the health care system itself.
That's proving to be difficult. We talked last week about a recent Fox News segment, hosted by Sean Hannity, featuring three real-world couples who presented themselves as victims of the Affordable Care Act. As Eric Stern reported in Salon, the problem with the segment was that none of the claims made by the couples stood up to any scrutiny. One of the horror stories was apparently entirely fictitious.
As it happens, this larger public-relations scheme is quickly shaping up to be an unsettling pattern. Robin Abcarian reported on a similar problem in the L.A. Times.
Now, it is true that Bonnie Doon Ice Cream Corp. is permanently closing its doors. The problem is, Republicans want to blame this on the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, the local Indiana congresswoman representing the business's headquarters specifically connected the law and the business' demise on her Facebook page.
Reality, I'm afraid, is pointing in a different direction. For one thing, Bonnie Doon only had around 30 employees, so the law's mandates didn't affect it anyway. The employee total increased after it was bought by BD Acquisition, but even then health care mandates wouldn't kick in until 2015 at the earliest.
"It seems highly, highly implausible that someone would be closing a business now in anticipation of projections around health costs 15 months from now," Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, told Abcarian. "Any business that says it's shutting down because of Obamacare is likely going out of business anyway."
The point isn't just to poke holes in poor anecdotal arguments. Rather, the key takeaway from stories like these is that Republicans are struggling mightily to find any real-world victims of the health care law.
For the right, these victims should be **everywhere**, eager to tell their stories, because that darned "Obamacare" is such a public menace. If so, why do these stories keep falling apart, replaced with nothing?