Tuesday, September 11, 2012

PolitiFact Attacks Democrats; Pith's Truth-O-Meter Goes Haywire

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Sen. Mae Beavers: What a lie!
  • Sen. Mae Beavers: 'What a lie!'
The Tennessee version of PolitiFact is accusing Democrats of lying about Republicans in a release to media outlets. In the release, sent to districts where GOP incumbents are threatened, the Tennessee Democratic Party says Republicans, in voting for their so-called Health Care Compact, “would eliminate Medicare’s guaranteed benefit for 800,000 Tennessee seniors and force them into TennCare.” After a hair-splitting analysis, PolitiFact concludes the Democrats' claim is false.

Under the Health Care Compact, Congress would send billions of dollars — $11 billion in Tennessee’s case — to a bunch of states that banded together to run Medicaid and Medicare as they saw fit. It’s a cockamamie idea that burst forth from the fevered imaginations of the right wing during the debate over the Affordable Care Act. It obviously wouldn’t work because (1) Ron Ramsey, Mae Beavers, Stacey Campfield, Frank Niceley, et al., aren’t capable of running Medicare; and (2) the sick and elderly soon would lose coverage as the cost of care went up but the federal block grant didn’t.

Nevertheless, PolitiFact declares Democrats can’t accuse Republicans of trying to end Medicare as we know it because—and we think we’re getting this straight—Congress would never be stupid enough to hand over all that health-care cash to Tennessee without strings. Or if Congress did, Tennessee’s legislature would never throw all those old people to the wolves. They’re not that mean, are they?

"What a lie!" Beavers is quoted as saying about the Democrats’ accusation.

“It seems to us, then, that any declaration of what the bill would mean for Medicare enrollees — or most anyone else — is speculation, not fact,” Tom Humphrey writes in the PolitiFact opinion.

The way we see it, what Democrats say in their release is the logical outcome of what Republicans are proposing. Certainly, it could turn out differently if, for instance, Congress surrenders the money but ties the amount of the grant to inflation, or stipulates that Medicare’s coverage and benefits must stay the same. That’s not what Republicans in the legislature are asking for, though. All the Democrats are doing is taking the Republican proposal at face value and warning voters about what that would mean.

Barring a complete Republican takeover in Washington in November, the Health Care Compact won’t happen at all, of course. Even then, it’s unlikely. The whole idea, which comes from ALEC or the Heritage Foundation or some other corporate shill, was concocted to appease the tea party and to try to show that Republicans have an alternative to the hated ObamaCare, even if it is a really bad one. It's a political stunt. Republicans never imagined they'd have to defend it. Democrats are correct to attack on this issue. Republicans deserve to take one on the chin over it. PolitiFact shouldn't give them cover.

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