by Max Brantley
Republicans are making much of the fact that Politifact is calling "the lie of the year" ads by Democrats that said Republicans had voted to end Medicare.
I'm with Krugman. Politifact is way off base on this.
To be precise, Republicans voted for a plan that phased in an end to Medicare. If you believe and understand Medicare to be a government health insurance program, the Republicans voted to eventually end it. In a decade, Republicans wanted privatized health insurance by a subsidy system that would have been not even a shadow of what every person in American now believes Medicare to be. Even a 30-second ad would accommodate the perfectly correct "Republicans voted to end Medicare as we know it."
"End to Medicare?" Yep, that's exactly what the Republicans had in mind. You can say it wasn't immediate. You can say some lucky ducks, like me, would have been exempt. But in a generation, Medicare would have been gone. That's what the Republcians desired. So it's no lie to pin them with it. But you can understand why, for example, U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin is madly touting Politifact as the one true source on political ads, at least in this case and not on the wildly dishonest stuff his side spins. What you think is Social Security and Medicare, Tim Griffin wants to end — after you've been sufficiently snookered by a phase-in plan.
The Republicans voted to end Medicare is a far more accurate assertion than the Republican assertion that the Obama stimulus plan created zero jobs, to name one Politifact "lie" that Griffin won't be advertising. Wrote Krugman:
Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system to buy private insurance — and not just that, a voucher system in which the value of the vouchers would systematically lag the cost of health care, so that there was no guarantee that seniors would even be able to afford private insurance.
The new scheme would still be called “Medicare”, but it would bear little resemblance to the current system, which guarantees essential care to all seniors.
How is this not an end to Medicare? And given all the actual, indisputable lies out there, how on earth could saying that it is be the “Lie of the year”?
The answer is, of course, obvious: the people at Politifact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other.