I had never seen Williams before. I was intrigued by the take-no-prisoners certainty of his rhetoric. It was very long on traditional right-wing platitudes and void of any actual facts. But then, the guy is a P.R. flack for the GOP.
It turns out that Raffi Williams is the twenty-four-year-old son of Fox News not-so-liberal commentator Juan Williams. Raffi spent his high school years at the $30,000-per-year Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. Then he moved on to Haverford College ($70,000 a year) on Philadelphia's suburban Main Line.
Given that background it should not come as a surprise that the GOP saw Raffi as the perfect young person to engage with and enhance its image among African-American youth. They hired him to do outreach to that community. After all, in big cities especially, Raffi has so much in common with their everyday-life experience. But I digress.
What struck me about Raffi's presentation is that it was so clearly Republican On the one had he absolutely denied having anything to do with efforts to dissuade young people from enrolling in Obamacare. Didn't say he disagreed with the effort, just that he had nothing to do with it.
When asked about the apparent contradiction between Republican positions on taking personal responsibility and encouraging young people not to get insurance through the ACA, Raffi had a clear position. First, find an employer like his who provides health-care insurance and change jobs. Second, if you're unemployed, find a job that affords health insurance. Third, If you can't find a job, blame Obama and the Democrats.
One of the more telling comments Raffi made was asserting that Obamacare puts the cost of insurance for older "sick" people on the "backs of young people." Maybe that disgusting -- and untrue -- line doesn't qualify as class warfare. It sure sounds a lot like generational warfare. Raffi went on to suggest the Republican go-slow approach of repealing Obamacare, and then, in his words, adopting "piecemeal" reforms over time, would keep all Americans healthy.
Let's face reality. Nice kid? I guess so. Smart? Definately yes with a good gift of gab. But, he also lies too much. There's a line in the video where he says Obamacare takes away private insurance. Fact is, Obamacare's choices are all private insurance-company products. There's another line where he mentions a "conservative friend" who told him his private insurance had been cancelled because it didn't meet Obamacare's standards.
I suspect this was a "guaranteed-issue" plan with limited coverage and a huge annual deductible. Guess what, Raffi? Do some checking -- since there are no longer pre-existing-condition denials and no policy limits, it's basically a useless product. Your friend no longer has to waste money on insurance that a young person is highly unlikely to use. I understand that someone in the Hoctchiss School, Haverford College tax bracket can take a chance on a policy with a $10,000 annual deductible. Most young people can't. Of course Raffi doesn't tell us if his friend did any checking to determine the net cost of coverage under the ACA.
Final note. I am not a blind supporter of Obamacare. I believe much of the mess Obama and his team find themselves in they brought on themselves by selling out single-payer from the start.
If they just went to a Medicare-for-all system we would not need an exchange to market (that's what it's doing: marketing insurance-company products) hundreds of different plans. We could have a fairly simple website to sign people up and tell them what it costs.
I know this is too simplistic and never would have passed. But trying at least would have put the argument on the table. I would have made the American people aware that they had choices -- and one particularly good choice in Medicare For All -- that the industry and the Administration and key Congressional Democrats locked out from the debate.