More GOP Obamacare lies: Republicans can’t get facts straight (Friday edition)

Joe Barton tried to scare people away from; instead he revealed one of its best qualities VIDEO

Topics: Video, Joe Barton, Health Care,, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act,

More GOP Obamacare lies: Republicans can't get facts straight (Friday edition)Joe Barton

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, thought he had Obamacare dead to rights. Or maybe he knew he didn’t but pressed ahead anyhow.

With top executives from the private firms contracted to build seated before him on Capitol Hill, Barton presented a few lines of source code, which conclusively proved that Obamacare’s insurance marketplaces were erected in gross violation of federal health privacy laws. Or so he insisted.

“Are you aware this was in the source code? Do you think that’s HIPAA [Health Information Portability and Accountability Act] compliant?” Barton asked Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president of the firm CGI, which built “Admit it! You’re under oath.”

I don’t know if Campbell was befuddled or concerned or what, but she was definitely rendered speechless. She left the impression, however briefly, that Barton had uncovered major malfeasance.

But it didn’t take a tech expert or a health privacy wonk to spot the weaknesses in his allegation. Within just a few minutes it became clear to everyone outside the impenetrable conservative information bubble that Barton’s real goal was to intimidate people out of applying for coverage. The only contestable issue is whether he knew how deceitful he was being, or whether he buffoonishly believed he’d struck a major blow for medical bankruptcy.

First, Barton himself noted, “[t]his is the part of the signup that is hidden. The applicant does not see this, but it is in the source code. And what that blue highlighted area that’s been circled in red says is, ‘You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transmitting or stored on this information system.’”

It’s hard to fathom how consumers are waiving their privacy rights if the supposed disclaimer isn’t visible, even in fine print. It’s also hard to fathom how any information required by would violate HIPAA since it’s not healthcare-related information.

One of the signature accomplishments of the Affordable Care Act is that it bans insurance company discrimination against people with preexisting health problems. It makes medical underwriting in health insurance a thing of the past. Which is why asks applicants nothing about their health statuses other than whether they’re smokers.

Barton’s triumph was thus short-lived. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., a senior Energy and Commerce Committee Democrat who helped write the law, caught on to the contradiction very quickly, and fired back at Barton in the now-infamous “monkey court” exchange.

“Monkey court” was a headline grabber but the phrase didn’t in itself pertain to Pallone’s point, which was genuinely profound. Because Obamacare makes preexisting conditions discrimination is a thing of the past, it effectively eliminates one of the most invasive aspects of applying for health insurance, and the risks the process once posed to your health information privacy.

First-timers won’t appreciate it, but for all of’s problems, anyone who’s ever applied for insurance on the individual market prior to Obamacare will marvel at its simplicity. It eliminates the most time-consuming, and often degrading, part of the process altogether.

The problems with Barton’s attack mounted even further.

Kevin Drum, Clay Johnson and other tech-savvy writers quickly pointed out that the lines Barton circled weren’t even active code. Just some boilerplate that had been dumped there by accident.

It wasn’t just that Obamacare moots certain privacy concerns, but the silver bullet — the words Barton claimed were so damning — weren’t even intended to be there. has genuine, addressable privacy concerns. But this isn’t one of them. If Barton were actually interested in ameliorating the site’s vulnerabilities, his staff wouldn’t have handed him nonsense to use for grandstanding. The idea instead was to sow seeds of doubts in people’s minds so that they take a pass on Obamacare. If enough of them do, then the law won’t work.

But for that strategy to work, Barton’s allegations would’ve needed to be at least contestable. Instead, they were self-discrediting.

Republicans’ anti-ACA hysteria has become a liability. They are again squandering the genuine gift of’s failure, this time by casting it as a horseman of the fictitious Obamacare apocalypse they’ve been promising for years but almost nobody believes is coming. At least not anymore.

Did Barton know how weak his charges were? I honestly can’t say. On the one hand, we know the GOP’s anti-Obamacare campaign hasn’t been what one might call a paragon of scrupulousness. Maybe he assumed his performance would travel well online, scare a few people, and never cared whether the charges withstood even the mildest scrutiny. In that case, job well done.

On the other hand, it’s Joe Barton.

Brian Beutler

Brian Beutler is Salon's political writer. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @brianbeutler.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...