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PolitiFact conceded GOP's plan would end
Medicare's role in covering health care,
but still accused Democrats of lying.

Via Steve Benen, PolitiFact is hopping mad at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for its new ad calling out Republicans for voting to end Medicare, giving it the "dreaded" pants-on-fire designation.

Specifically, PolitiFact says it's unfair to accuse Republicans of ending Medicare because their vote was merely an expression of a policy preference:

The Republicans voted on a budget resolution that states policy preferences, but the vote did not actually change Medicare, much less end it.

Uh, okay. Except the ad didn't accuse Republicans of actually accomplishing their goal of ending Medicare. It accused them of "voting to end Medicare." In other words, it accused them of stating a policy preference.

In addition, PolitiFact is ticked off that the ad claims the Republican plan would require seniors to pay $12,500 for health care coverage.

That number is based on statistics compiled by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The ad doesn’t mention, though, that the number includes money that would go to Medicare in any case. The CBO estimates beneficiaries would contribute about $6,150 in premiums in 2022 if the program isn’t changed at all. So the extra money seniors need to pay under the Republican proposal is more like $6,350.

So...PolitiFact agrees that the CBO estimated seniors would pay $12,500 under the GOP plan, as the ad asserted. They just think the ad should have gone the extra mile and explained that the report estimates seniors would only be paying $6,350 more than they would have otherwise. But the ad didn't say seniors would have to pay $12,500 more. It said they would have to pay $12,500 total, which is completely accurate.

And finally, PolitiFact thinks it's unfair to describe the GOP proposal as being designed to "end Medicare." But quoting from their own analysis:

The Republican proposal will end the aspect of Medicare that directly covers specific services, such as hospital coverage. ... Democrats, including Obama, have said the plan would end Medicare "as we know it," a critical qualifier. But the 30-second ad from the DCCC makes a sweeping claim without that important qualifier .

I'm tempted to just leave it there, with no further explanation, but I can't resist.

PolitiFact appears to be resting its entire case on a severe case of parsing and the fact that the GOP proposal wouldn't change Medicare's name. Still, even PolitiFact acknowledges that the GOP plan would fundamentally change what Medicare does, replacing it with subsidized private insurance administered by the Office of Personnel Management, a completely different agency than currently runs Medicare.

According to their logic, if the FBI were replaced with a voucher program wherein citizens would receive subsidies for hiring private investigators to look into criminal activity, but the agency running the voucher program were still called the FBI, it would be unfair to say that the FBI had been ended. I guess it's their right to make that argument, but it's transparently absurd.

To recap PolitiFact's case:

  1. Ending the essential services of Medicare and replacing them with subsidies administered by an entirely different agency is not the same as ending Medicare.
  2. Yes, it's true that CBO said the GOP plan would mean seniors would pay $12,500 in health care costs, but only $6,350 of that was incremental, and even though Democrats correctly stated the CBO's estimate, and even though seniors would have to pay the full amount of that estimate, they should have only focused on the incremental cost.
  3. It would be unfair to say the GOP actually ended Medicare because they merely voted to end it. Of course, that's what the ad says.
All I can say to that is, I hope the GOP defends itself using PolitiFact's line of argument. It would be an electoral bonanza for Democrats.


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