As those who have been following this blog for a while know, it’s about uncovering lies and encouraging the use of facts to move the progressive movement forward. The problem with saying things that are provably false is, eventually someone will discover the falsehood, and will tend to not believe anything you say afterward. We need a majority on our side, which means we must invest ourselves in truth.
I’ve always had a problem with “fact checking” web sites run my major news or propaganda organizations. Media Matters, I love, because they don't actually interpret. They simply say whatever was said, then show whatever caused a contradiction, and let the readers decide what they should believe. They do lean left when it comes to choosing which lies they discuss, but their discussion of falsehoods is rarely, if ever, actually biased. Too many "fact checking" organizations, however, have a tendency to assert their own biases in their analyses.
Some will recall that I had a major row with Factcheck a couple of years ago, when they tried to claim the Affordable Care Act would allow for government funding of abortions. It was bad enough that they made a mistake, but after I uncovered the mistake and corrected them using language in both the ACA and the Hyde Amendment, the director of Factcheck, Brooks Jackson, insisted he was right because, well, he was, that’s all. They lost a lot of credibility with me, and many of my readers, and I still fact check Factcheck as a result.
But you know what? Politifact has outdone that little error. They have determined that the Lie of the Year 2011 is that “Republicans voted to end Medicare.” Not just a lie, mind you, but the BIGGEST LIE OF THE YEAR. In a year that featured claims such as “The Iraq War was a success,” “Cutting taxes on millionaires will mean more jobs,” and “The United States is so broke, it could default on its debt,” they chose THAT as the “Lie of the Year”? Really? With a Republican presidential field full of lies and “pants on fires,” that was the biggest lie they could think of?
What makes it worse is, it’s not even a lie. It’s absolutely true; the Republicans in Congress voted overwhelmingly to dismantle Medicare as it exists now and replace it with a privatized voucher system that they would call Medicare.
Anyone wanna buy my mansion?
You know how picky I can be. There really is no “Indefinite Detention Bill” in Congress, and no amount of intellectually dishonest gymnastics can create one. But Medicare has always been a public system, in which doctors submit bills to the program, and they get paid. Under the Paul Ryan plan, seniors would receive vouchers for private insurance, and the public system would have been dismantled. Sorry, but since that changes what Medicare was always conceived to be, saying that the Republican plan doesn’t dismantle it simply doesn’t pass the smell test.
They jumped through a number of hoops to draw the conclusion that we Democrats and liberals were lying. Check out this faulty “logic:”
But more often, Democrats and liberals overreached:
• They ignored the fact that the Ryan plan would not affect people currently in Medicare — or even the people 55 to 65 who would join the program in the next 10 years.
• They used harsh terms such as "end" and "kill" when the program would still exist, although in a privatized system.
• They used pictures and video of elderly people who clearly were too old to be affected by the Ryan plan. The DCCC video that aired four days after the vote featured an elderly man who had to take a job as a stripper to pay his medical bills.
"Both parties use entitlements as political weapons," Ryan said in an interview with PolitiFact. "Republicans do it to Democrats; Democrats do it to Republicans. So I knew that this would be a political weapon that the other side would use against us."
Basically, because no one under 55 would be affected, it’s not a lie? I’m 53. I’ve been working and paying Medicare taxes for 37 years. I’ve been paying those taxes with the promise that, when I turn 65, my health insurance will be taken care of. Now, I’m essentially being told by Politifact to stop my whining; that it doesn’t really change anything.
Well, my father just died a couple of weeks ago, and among the paperwork I’ve been looking through have been his medical bills, and I figured out that Medicare paid more than $27,000 of his medical bills in the last year of his life, and another $4,000 was paid by his Part B insurance (for which he was paying $227 a month), with him having to pay about $1,000 out of pocket. Under the Ryan plan, my father would have gotten a voucher for private insurance that would have covered about $20,000 of that amount, and he would have to pay about double for supplemental insurance to cover the other $7,000 PLUS the $4,000 they cover now. Proportionally speaking, my father would be looking at covering three times as much of his own health care expenses. And my father was relatively healthy for a 76 year old man; imagine if he had cancer or some other chronic illness? What if he needed physical therapy?
Plus, participation in Medicare would be voluntary. That means, those folks who are having trouble making ends meet could forego paying for Medicare altogether, and we’d end up with a huge pool of seniors without health insurance. Politifact might quibble with the photos of current seniors who won’t be affected by the plan, but as someone who is 53, I am well aware that I am not that far from that age, and I’m being told MY insurance won’t cover shit, even though I’ve been paying into the system for 37 years.
It’s not a lie at all to say that Republicans didn’t vote to kill Medicare. What Ryan proposed was NOT Medicare.
Medicare is NOT a privatized system. Medicare is us paying for our parents’ health care now, and receiving a promise that the next generation will take care of us in return. Under the Ryan plan, there will be a HUGE pool of seniors who will have ZERO health insurance upon retirement. Plus, those of us on that bubble, who have been paying for private insurance for years and looking forward to the day when we could tell private insurers to piss off, will find ourselves paying MORE for insurance in our retirement than we were paying during our working years (MOST companies pay at least 75-80% of our premiums for us, Ryan’s “kill Medicare” plan would pay 61%). Not only that, but Ryan’s plan would also kill the parts of the Affordable Care Act that allowed 30 million more people to be covered, which would return us to the hyperinflation in health care that we’ve seen the past 30 years.
Essentially, Politifact is claiming that Medicare without the benefits we were always promised is still Medicare, simply because Ryan calls it Medicare. I’d like to point the Politifact authors to my father’s former “mansion,” which is for sale, including an acre of land in the middle of
the desert. I was going to charge $36,000 for it, but Politifact has inspired me to just call it a mansion and demand $360,000, since I can apparently call anything a mansion, and it magically becomes one. Here’s a pic; anyone who wants to buy this mansion for $360,000, feel free to send me an email. Although, I will take $36,000, or the best offer.
The Ryan plan would have killed Medicare, it would have killed the concept of Medicare, and Politifact should be ashamed of themselves for not only saying otherwise, but for dubbing it “Lie of the Year.”