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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lies, lies, lies

by digby

I wrote about the GOP lies about Trumpcare for Salon this morning:

When the House came back for its second bite of the apple and finally passed their dream legislation to repeal Obamacare and ensure that they make the health care system even worse than it was before, I was on a short hiatus and binge watching The Handmaid's Tale.  I had planned to stay away from politics as much as possible but this was a big deal so I had to tune in. Seeing all those white, male Republicans grinning and high fiving each other was a chilling sight and I turned away as quickly as I could, soothed by the nearly unanimous opinion that the Senate, the "saucer that cools the tea" would stop the abomination because they would never agree to a bill as draconian as the House bill. I told myself that I was so bothered by that sight because I was watching a haunting dystopian drama and it was affecting my mood.

Yesterday, when the CBO dropped its expected bombshell report showing that the Senate version of the bill was even worse in some ways than the House bill, I couldn't help but think of this:

We will know soon enough. The target date for a Senate vote remains Thursday of this week and then a quick getaway to hide their heads in shame. As I write this we have a few GOP Senators from the different factions of the party saying they won't vote for it without changes. It's either too harsh or not harsh enough or it's moving to fast or the process was improper. McConnell still has some cards to play and some money to give away so we'll see how all that unfolds.

This is a ghastly piece of legislation. Indeed, it's so appalling that some people suspect that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell planned for it not to pass just so that he could say he tried and then get it off his agenda. (I don't think that's true and in fact he probably floated that idea himself just in case this thing blows up.)
He couldn't have made it any worse if he tried.

That hasn't stopped the Republicans from defending it. Indeed, a few of them went out over the week-end and appeared on various news programs making the only defense possible: they lied.

Kellyanne Conway is a professional spin artist who has had no trouble transitioning to outright dishonesty in her new job. She was smooth a silk on ABC's This Week claiming there are absolutely no cuts to Medicaid and that furthermore, if able-bodied people are kicked off the rolls they will just get a job that has employer sponsored health insurance like she has. Of course 80 percent of Medicaid households do have someone who works at a job that doesn't provide benefits --- which Conway would be the first to defend as the God-given right of any employer. And the vast majority of Medicaid patients who aren't working can't work, such as the elderly in nursing homes. Sixty four percent of them nationwide are covered by Medicaid.

Her rationale for this insistence that Medicaid wasn't being cut is that it they aren't cutting the budget, merely slowing its growth. This explanation was also taken up by President George W. Bush's former press secretary Ari Fleischer who tiresomely insisted on twitter that you can't call it a cut when the future budget simply isn't as much as promised:

This is fatuous nonsense as the Washington Post explained:
Spending “always goes up" in Washington in part because of this little thing called inflation — as prices go up, government spending has to increase, too, just to keep up. 
Fortunately, the CBO's scorecard of the bill has been released to help clarify the waters that GOP allies are so diligently muddying. That report is crystal clear: Between now and 2026, the GOP Senate health-care plan would carve out "a reduction of $772 billion in federal outlays for Medicaid."
Senator Susan Collins didn't try to sugar coat the problem, saying
“I’m very concerned about … the impact of the Medicaid cuts on our state governments, the most vulnerable people in our society, and health care providers such as our rural hospitals and nursing home, most of whom are very dependent on the Medicaid program … given the inflation rate that would be applied in the outer years to the Medicaid program, the Senate bill is going to have more impact on the Medicaid program than even the House bill.” 
Conway and Fleischer may actually more honest than Health and Human services secretary Tom Price who declared on CNN, ”We will not have individuals lose coverage.” In a way, he's right. They won't lose coverage, it is being taken from them so that Republicans can give tax breaks to their rich friends. To put it another way, the tax cuts that 400 wealthy families get from the Senate bill equals the Medicaid expansion for more than 700,000 people.

Former Club for Growth president and current Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey went  on Face the Nation insisting that “no one will lose coverage” if they’re on Medicaid and Senator Ron Johnson appeared on Meet the Press and compared people with pre-existing conditions to someone with a bad driving record who has to pay more. Evidently, if you don't have a lot of money you should be very careful that you don't recklessly go out and get cancer.

Johnson, at least, has the excuse that he just really doesn't understand anything. Majority whip John Cornyn of Texas understands very well what he's doing. He tweeted this yesterday:

This one's not a lie. It's true that in 2026 under Obamacare it's projected that 28 million will still be uninsured. He just leaves out the punchline --- the same projections say that if this Senate plan were to take effect, the number of uninsured would be almost 50 million people. 

The leading defenders of this grotesque bill are willing to dissemble, obfuscate and blatantly lie to the public about what is in it. They have no choice. It's indefensible on the merits. But I have to say, the fact that there are only a small handful of Republican Senators even prepared to make some phony noises against it says everything you need to know about the moral rot at the heart of this Republican majority.

Joan Walsh

Ari Fleischer