James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

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  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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The Affordable Care Act and the GOP’s really big lie

Posted by James McPherson on July 2, 2012

Washington Post chart

Defeated by the Supreme Court, Republicans and their conservative allies have apparently decided that their best strategy to try to overcome the Affordable Care Act is simply to lie. Now they’re calling it the biggest tax in U.S. history. And, as you can see from the Washington Post chart above, they’re lying.

Rush Limbaugh is lying (yeah, big surprise). Sarah Palin is lying (OK, that’s expected, too). Mike Huckabee is lying (especially disgraceful for a former pastor who claims he can teach history) Sean Hannity is lying. James Pinkerton, also of Fox News, is lying. Conservative author Edward Klein is lying. The Washington Times is lying. The Daily Caller is lying. My cardboard cutout Congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, is lying. House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority leader Eric Cantor and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell all lied. Alaska Tea Party loser Joe Miller is lying. Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummus is lying. California Congresswoman Mary Bono is lying. Louisiana Congressman Jeff Landry is lying. Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is lying. Tennessee Congressman Scott DesJarlais is lying. Georgia’s Republican governor is lying. Congressional candidate Ben Quayle, son of a former vice president, is lying. Forbes apparently wants to lie, but can’t decide. New York Congressional candidate Dan Hollaran is lying. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance is lying. Naturally, conservative bloggers are lying and lying and lying and lying and lying and lying and lying and lying.

Republicans now claim that Barack Obama knowingly lied when he said the individual mandate upheld by the Supreme Court, but that’s a little tougher to prove. Not only to legal scholars disagree about whether it is a tax or not, even Mitt Romney, Obama’s 2012 challenger, apparently agrees with Obama on the issue. (Of course this is Romney, so he may disagree with himself any time now.)

We know that politicians lie, generally to get elected. But rarely do they lie as blatantly or as widely as Republicans are lying now in reaction to a Supreme Court decision. And the problem is, their supporters don’t care. As Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts wrote:

Falsehoods are harder to kill than a Hollywood zombie. Run them through with fact, and still they shamble forward, fueled by echo chamber media, ideological tribalism, cognitive dissonance, a certain imperviousness to shame, and an understanding that a lie repeated long enough, loudly enough, becomes, in the minds of those who need to believe it, truth.

That is the lesson of the birthers and truthers, of Sen. Jon Kyl’s “not intended to be a factual statement” about Planned Parenthood, of Glenn Beck’s claim that conservatives founded the Civil Rights Movement, and of pretty much every word Michele Bachmann says. It seems that not only are facts no longer important, but they are not even the point.

Or, as I noted when interviewed by the New York Times for a story about right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart: “There are no standards of fact anymore for a lot of people. We have gone from selecting sources of opinion that we agree with to selecting facts that we agree with.” Republicans clearly  hope you’ll buy their lying “facts” about health care in America.

And if you want to see how much you’ve been swayed — or simply left ignorant — about the real effects of the health care bill, you can take a simple 10-question test. I missed one, which, sadly, still made my score “better than 97% of Americans.” Sigh.

22 Responses to “The Affordable Care Act and the GOP’s really big lie”

  1. I should like to do that 10-question test as a post. Unfortunately, I skipped over three questions by mistake, but I was correct on the others. The biggest fault in this simple questionnaire is that it does not speak on the repercussions that will come of this legislation. In the words of Obama, “let me be clear” *giggles* I’m very much for health care reform, I just think it aught to be simple and straightforward legislation.

  2. James McPherson said

    Unfortunately, “simple and straightforward” seems to be beyond Congress. And you raise another key point: As conservatives keep saying, most Americans opposed this health care bill. But many of us opposed it because it was overly complicated, because it gave too much money to insurance companies and drug companies, and/or because it didn’t go far enough (as opposed to too far).

  3. Reckon there are too many lawyers and not enough regular Joes in the Legislature.

  4. William Gates said

    I was 10 for 10 but guessed on 3 of them.

    I could be accepting of the ACA if I agreed with insurance. I believe insurance is not the solution, but the problem. Many people don’t even know what their doctor charges they just know their co-pay amount. I know my doctor charges $150/visit which ends up being about $600/hr. No way I would pay that without insurance. I’d either do as the uninsured do now and not go, or use the emergency room as my primary care provider. Also, too many companies give the “cash rate” or the “insurance rate”. Not cool.

    I really hope this plan helps the people that really want insurance but can’t afford it. I also don’t want to see people that are financially able to pay their bills without insurance be penalized. I’d prefer it penalize those that continue to use hospital services and not pay their bills by catching any tax refund they are due. The hospitals should be able to send that bill directly to the IRS and get the hospitals paid.

    James is correct though by stating how it helps insurance companies and big pharma. As you saw none of them was complaining about this bill. This should. but won’t. squash all the socialist claims about Obama because no way would a socialist pump money into the private sector as this law does.He may be a lot of things, and I don’t agree with a lot of things he has or hasn’t done but being dumb, socialist and Muslim are 3 things that he’s not.

    I’ll volunteer as a “regular Joe” to serve as Speaker of the House at $1 salary for 2013.

  5. melfamy said

    Lying is okay, according to right-wingers, if your goal is to spread the truth behind the lie, or if your statement sounds truthy.
    This bill that just passed Constitutional muster doesn’t pass the smell test; it is a giveaway to big health and big pharma, and a guaranteed price-raiser.
    But the Act makes right-wingers apoplectic, so it ain’t all bad. :)

  6. Run, Wills, run! Now you’ve got me thinking on that show…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2-MCPa_3rU

    G., it’s not right-wingers who are the liars; it’s politicians! Now let me sit on your lap and….oops…nevermind. I must behave for sweet baby James.

  7. William Gates said

    I probably have too many ex-wives and tell the truth too much to be able to hold that position. I think Greg would be ok though.

  8. James McPherson said

    ‘the Act makes right-wingers apoplectic, so it ain’t all bad”

    Indeed. And it would be nice if the court’s action would prompt folks on both sides to try to make it better. But I’m doubtful.

    Kells, I agree that politicians lie, as I noted above. But this seems more over-the-top than usual, since the truth is so easy to point out and they keep lying anyway. I might go along with your “regular Joes” comment, if you don’t mean Joe Miller or “Joe the Plumber.” :-)

    William, I agree that costs are way out of line, and that insurance makes it easy to ignore–but what’s the alternative? Without insurance or universal health care (which I’d prefer), even if costs were much, much lower, one kid with cancer would put a family deeply in debt forever (or being declined care).

    You might get my vote as speaker. I wrote many years ago that we should put members of Congress up in dorms and pay them a minimal salary. Now I think that would just further increase the impact of lobbyists and fundraisers, though–no one in Congress makes as much as their elections cost.

  9. James McPherson said

    Oh, and Joe Walsh is a “regular Joe” that I hope won’t stay in the House: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/joe-walsh-taking-heat-for-remarks-on-opponents-military-service/2012/07/03/gJQATX7LLW_blog.html

  10. Well you may have heard this before but the saying that liars figure and figures lie should apply here. If you really believe that the Bush tax cuts cost equally as Obamacare. Let me tell you what I think….. I think you did a little cutting and pasting to make this fit. Very professional!

  11. Jeremy said

    I too am a 97-percenter. Entertaining post, James … or maddening, given the giant fairy tales these folks are willing to make up to fight the health care bill. It must have taken you awhile to pull together all those links!

  12. James McPherson said

    Greg, the figures aren’t mine, as you can see from the links. And of course the key point is that Obamacare is nowhere close to the “biggest tax increase in history.”

    Jeremy, most of the links I found by simply Googling “biggest tax increase,” and then I went to the House site and checked a few representatives. Besides, I was “watching” a Seattle Mariners game, and paying too much attention to the M’s can be even more maddening. :-)

    I posted a link to the quiz on Facebook, and most of those who responded also missed one. The most common (and the one I missed) was #4, having to do with Medicare.

    Thanks, gentlemen, for the comments.

  13. William Gates said

    I’d take a dorm and wouldn’t need the million dollar allowance that they give the guys now. I’d have a local office and videoconference the daily sessions to save money. I’d fly to DC to vote, not fly there every Monday (like Steve Southerland does) and back home again every Friday. He proudly throws wasting our money back in our faces when he tells everyone that. I have more ideas for solutions than Allen West and don’t talk as loud. BTW, he may not even get re-elected in his own district and has no chance of becoming VP.

    “William, I agree that costs are way out of line, and that insurance makes it easy to ignore–but what’s the alternative? Without insurance or universal health care (which I’d prefer), even if costs were much, much lower, one kid with cancer would put a family deeply in debt forever (or being declined care)”

    Understood. I don’t advocate getting rid of insurance but getting rid of the fraud within it. When I took my car in for an estimate for a damaged from bumper, the first thing he asked was if I was going to claim it on my insurance. I guess he meant he’d charge more if I were claiming it and less if I were paying cash. Insurance is a great thing to have and it gives you some sense of security, until you find out that you don’t have flood insurance and wasn’t told that you wouldn’t be covered if you house flood due to a storm. You could claim that you’re not in a flood zone but it won’t matter. That’s the kind of stuff that needs to be corrected. Too many people, on both sides (provider and consumer) ripping other people off buy “playing the system” to get paid.

  14. Wills, Steve flies on his own dime. Now you boys have me thinkin that it should be a regular Joesephine in office……or Kells? ;)

  15. William Gates said

    No kells, that is not correct. Steve flies on our dime. He gets a million dollar account for “expenses” that he uses. Remember, Rand Paul gave half of his back to the Treasury. He couldn’t afford that $2000 flight 52 times a year on his $174,000/yr salary anyway. He pretty much said that was part of his official travel back to meet with his constituents weekly and he does it because he can’t stand DC.

    I really don’t have a problem with Steve, other than that (all of them do) and the phoniness he projected when speaking to us. I voted for him. I never saw that when he was involved in activities locally. He seemed more straight forward and genuine. Maybe he’s changing like most of them do when they get to DC. Plus he gave a shout out to Fox News………..

  16. Reuel said

    The first question in the survey is a lie, some who were for this before they were against it got a wavier from it past 2014. So not all are under this new law. Also the chart is just a guess on how much this is going to cost, I read a article today that the lawyers have are already written about 13,000 new regulations just becuase of this bill. This law will end up as all big social programs started by government, “Not affordable health care bill”. Time will tell. I have read it now they passed it and if anyone here thinks they fully understand it, I think they lie. I am for health care reform, but this is not reform, it is a lie. James: of course the insurance companies like it right now, my payments the last two years have gone up the maximum allowed by this law and my co-pays have gone up the maximum allowed by this law. They are lining their pockets to prepare for the inevitable, getting out of the health insurance business.

  17. James McPherson said

    “I read a article today that the lawyers have are already written about 13,000 new regulations just because of this bill.”

    I’d be interested to know who wrote the article, and what the sources were. It could be true, but it sounds off to me.

    “I am for health care reform, but this is not reform.”

    I’d disagree, at least in part. But I would agree that it has numerous problems. My hope would be that because it’s been upheld, Congress would now concentrate on improving it. But I suspect they won’t; instead they’ll keep fighting the same battles, despite the fact that most people want them to move on.

    “They are lining their pockets to prepare for the inevitable, getting out of the health insurance business.”

    I’d be willing to bet that doesn’t happen. Both parties get too much money from insurance companies and medical lobbyists.

  18. Reuel said

    Yes the mandate is only a very small part of this monster, The mandate, preexisting conditions and parts I agree with. Its the costs they are projecting that we all have seen are never what Washington guesses they will be. That is my problem with the chart you use, they are all know factors and the Affordable Healthcare law and its cost are just a guess. In the end we could see it ranked number one of all. The 13000 is from a site called the gateway pundit. I know insurance companies, they will sell that part of their business in a heart beat. as soon as it becomes less profitable. If anyone wants to buy it. I know a lot of people are worried that the fine “Tax” will be less and the companies they work for just get out of providing health insurance period. That would run the cost of this up real fast.

  19. James McPherson said

    “In the end we could see it ranked number one of all.”

    Possible–or, if we’re speculating, it could be ranked even farther down on than on the chart. The key point is that the Republicans who keep claiming it’s the “biggest ever” have nothing to base it on and so are lying. If they’d said “one of the biggest,” as many (including Michele Bachmann) have, I wouldn’t have written the post.

    I just saw the Gateway Pundit piece myself, and wondered if that’s what you were remembering. One correction: It’s 13,000 pages of new regulations, rather than 13,000 regulations–which, if true, is bad enough.

    The GP post is based on a Fox News story that quotes a Montana Republican representative, though: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/03/efforts-to-implement-obamacare-law-raise-concerns-massive-government-expansion/#ixzz1ziuZDCSV

  20. Wills, all the House representatives are given a stipend, and it’s not a million dollars. I will concede that Steve does fly on our dime at times, but he does not come home every weekend. He does pay for his own flights at times, as well. I had to go to the source (my sister is his sister-in-law.) I grew up with Steve. I believe him to be a good boy.

  21. Reuel said

    Your Washington Post Chart originated on “mother Jones” site and here is a government site with actual figures and predictions. Also you can go to OBM site and find charts that show what the projected revenues were when they were guesstimated or should I say LIED about when enacted. Note most were way below predictions, what a shocker. This also does not take in to consideration that it will end up in a General fund that is spent by whomever is in power at the time, on whatever their fancy is. It all irrelevant because when we hit 26 trillion dollars of debt, the interest will be the largest part of our budget. We don’t need 4 more years of 1 trillion dollar plus debts. Blame it whom you wish, the reality show is about to come front and center real soon.

    http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/tax-policy/Documents/OTA-Rev-Effects-1940-present-6-6-2011.pdf

    Please understand these figures are subject to “Change” and I “Hope” that “Forward” does not relate to increased spending of money that we don’t have.

  22. William Gates said

    Dear Kells you are picking up some very bad habits………..

    “Southerland’s office said he “is committed to being a good steward of taxpayer dollars and, in fact, voted to reduce House office budgets by 5 percent. We continue to look for ways to maximize our resources and we want to be transparent about how taxpayer dollars are being utilized.”

    “Southerland’s allowance is $1.47 million for the year, compared to $1.54 million for Boyd last year.”

    $1.47 mil is one heck of a stipend. But you are correct, it’s not a million dollars. It’s closer to a million and a half. He gets a $3mil allowance to serve 2 years. That’s pretty good don’t you think?

    http://www.newsherald.com/articles/reports-94184-southerland-city.html

    “U.S. Sen. Rand Paul announced Thursday that he will return to the federal treasury $500,000 of his office budget that was not used”

    http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20120112/NEWS01/301120051/rand%20paul%20taxpayer%20savings

    Again, they ALL get this allowance.

    Now Steve may not come home every weekend, but if he doesn’t and I was sitting in the audience when he said he did, then maybe it was just an exaggeration. But he definitely said it. He may very well be a good boy that doesn’t tell all his business to his in laws. I know I wouldn’t.

    Sorry sweetheart, but you are incorrect on this one.

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