More Fraud from the White House

The WSJ’s James Taranto, who has described Obama’s lies in terms similar to those I employed, adds this:

the Obama administration isn’t limiting its count of enrollees to people who have actually enrolled in a health-insurance plan. Instead, “it will use a more expansive definition.” Get ready for it: “It will count people who have purchased a plan as well as those who have a plan sitting in their online shopping cart but have not yet paid.” [emphasis added]

Taranto points out the obvious (and obviously unasked) question: “What if Amazon.com counted its revenues that way in reports to investors? One suspects the Securities and Exchange Commission would not approve.”

As a matter of contract law, it is in fact completely legitimate to define terms in ways that are inconsistent with their everyday meaning. But it is a truism that courts will not suffer themselves to be used as instruments of injustice, so you will have some amount of difficulty obtaining a judgment in your favor on a contract obviously intended to defraud. And in the securities context, behavior of this sort is even more problematic because of the many rules requiring the use of “plain English” in important documents.

In any event, it is obviously that (1) the White House does not want its target audience to know the it has redefined this key term; and (2) no legitimate purpose underlies this intentional deception. They went ahead and told a reporter that they were redefining the term so that they will have political cover when they are inevitably called out later on.

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