Friday, June 03, 2011

Targeting Medicare, GOP Makes A Fool Of Politifact


Analyzing a Politifact piece condemning Democratic claims that the vote for the Ryan budget amounted to a bid to end Medicare, on April 22 I wrote

Politico maintains "budget resolutions are non-binding documents that cannot be viewed as the equivalent of legislation that establishes law. Deeply desiring something and accomplishing it are different." According to Wikipedia

a budget resolution is a legislation in the form of a concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget. The budget resolution establishes various budget totals, allocations, entitlements, and may include reconciliation instructions to designated House or Senate committees....

The budget resolution serves as a blueprint for the actual appropriation process, and provides Congress with some control over the appropriations process. A budget resolution binds Congress, but is not a law. It does allow for certain points of order to be made if the President does not follow the resolution.

It is not a law. But it is more than a wish list, something they'd like to see change if only, gosh, they had a chance someday. It would bind Congress and is the beginning of the GOP effort to end Medicare- not Medicare "as we know it," but Medicare. The GOP did "vote to end Medicare"; it was a vote for the purpose of ending Medicare.

Republicans now have made a liar, or rather a knave, of Politifact by deeming the Republican budget as passed (explained by Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado in video, below) by approving (over unanimous Democratic opposition) this portion of HR 2017, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2012 (text, in PDF):

Pending the adoption of a concurrent resolution on the budget for
fiscal year 2012, the provisions of House Concurrent Resolution 34, as adopted by the House, shall have force and effect (and).... The allocations printed in the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution shall be considered for all purposes in the House to be the allocations under section 302(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 197 4 for the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2012.


There now. The House, under leadership of Speaker Boehner with the support of his caucus and opposition of the Democrats, has now voted to end Medicare. Twice.

While they're at it, Politifact may wish to acknowledge its sleight of hand when it deceivingly wrote

But to say the Republicans voted to end Medicare, as the ad does, is a major exaggeration. All seniors would continue to be offered coverage under the proposal, and the program’s budget would increase every year.

Elderly people would be offered some coverage under the proposal. But it would be a declining proportion of their health expenditures because, although "the program's budget would increase every year," it is specifically designed to do so at a rate which is below the traditional, and expected, rate of growth in health care spending.

But look more carefully. The first sentence of the paragraph reads "but to say the Republicans voted to end Medicare, as the ad does, is a major exaggeration." Then as if to buttress that contention, the first portion of the second sentence- after maintaining Medicare would not end- refers to the proposal, obviously Ryan's. The second portion of the second sentence then speaks of program. Medicare generally is referred to as a "program," as it is earlier in the Politifact post. But prior to this section, Politifact refers to the GOP approach on five (5)) occasions as a "plan" and on five (5) occasions as a proposal- in no case as a "program." Significantly, though, after alleging that Medicare is not ended, Politifact adds "the program's budget would increase every year."

It is an effective, though subtle, effort to imply that the Medicare program's budget would increase, though of course it is Ryan's voucher proposal to which Politifact is actually referring. Hence, Politifact has implied that the Ryan program would increase Medicare when in fact it would replace Medicare, thus abolishing it.

We (the imperial "we," or perhaps all of us who value accuracy) await Politifact's retraction. Failing that, it might acknowledge a pro-GOP bias in matters not directly pertaining to President Obama. But make sure not to hold your breath.













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