On health care, GOP drops spin, goes with flat-out lies

The Palm Beach Post - - OPINION: THE DEBATE STARTS HERE - Paul Krug­man He writes for the New York Times.

Do you re­mem­ber po­lit­i­cal spin? Politi­cians used to de­ceive vot­ers by de­scrib­ing their poli­cies in mis­lead­ing ways. For ex­am­ple, the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion was prone to things like claim­ing that tax breaks for the wealthy were re­ally all about help­ing se­niors — be­cause ex­tremely rich Amer­i­cans tend to be quite old.

But Repub­li­cans no longer bother with de­cep­tive pre­sen­ta­tions of facts. In­stead, they just flat-out lie. Right now the most in­tense, co­or­di­nated ef­fort at de­cep­tion in­volves health care — an is­sue where Repub­li­cans are ly­ing non­stop about both their own po­si­tion and that of Democrats.

The true Repub­li­can po­si­tion on health care has been clear and con­sis­tent for decades: The party hates, just hates, the idea of gov­ern­ment ac­tion to make es­sen­tial health care avail­able to all cit­i­zens, re­gard­less of in­come or med­i­cal his­tory.

This ha­tred very much in­cludes ha­tred of Medi­care. Way back in 1961, Ron­ald Rea­gan warned that en­act­ing Medi­care would de­stroy Amer­i­can free­dom. Newt Gin­grich shut down the gov­ern­ment in an at­tempt to force Bill Clin­ton to slash Medi­care fund­ing. Paul Ryan pro­posed end­ing Medi­care and re­plac­ing it with in­ad­e­quate vouch­ers to be ap­plied to the pur­chase of pri­vate in­sur­ance.

And the ha­tred ob­vi­ously ex­tends to the Af­ford­able Care Act. Repub­li­cans don’t just hate the sub­si­dies that help peo­ple buy in­sur­ance; they also hate the reg­u­la­tions that pre­vent in­sur­ers from dis­crim­i­nat­ing against peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions. In­deed, 20 Repub­li­can state at­tor­neys gen­eral filed a law­suit try­ing to elim­i­nate pro­tec­tion for pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions, and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has de­clined to op­pose the suit, in ef­fect en­dors­ing it.

But Repub­li­cans have a prob­lem here: The poli­cies they hate, and Democrats love, are ex­tremely pop­u­lar. Medi­care has over­whelm­ing sup­port. So does pro­tec­tion for pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions, which is even sup­ported by a large ma­jor­ity of Repub­li­cans.

Josh Haw­ley, as Mis­souri’s at­tor­ney gen­eral, is part of that law­suit against Oba­macare’s reg­u­la­tion of in­sur­ers; but in his cam­paign for the Se­nate, he’s pos­ing as a de­fender of Amer­i­cans with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions. Dean Heller, run­ning for re-elec­tion to the Se­nate in Ne­vada, voted for a bill that would have de­stroyed Oba­macare, in­clud­ing all pro­tec­tion for pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions; but he’s mis­rep­re­sent­ing him­self just as Haw­ley is.

All of which brings me to a re­mark­able op-ed ar­ti­cle on health care in USA To­day, which was pub­lished un­der Don­ald Trump’s name last week.

Part of the ar­ti­cle claimed that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is de­fend­ing health in­sur­ance for Amer­i­cans with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions, when the re­al­ity is that it has tried to de­stroy that cov­er­age. But mostly it was an at­tack on pro­pos­als for “Medi­care for all.”

And what did Trump say Democrats would do? Why, that they would “evis­cer­ate” the cur­rent Medi­care pro­gram.

Why do Repub­li­cans think they can get away with such bla­tant lies?

Partly be­cause they can still count on en­ablers in the main­stream news me­dia. Af­ter all, why did USA To­day ap­prove this piece? Let­ting Trump ex­press his opin­ion is one thing; giv­ing him a plat­form for lies is an­other.

So will the GOP’s Big Lie on health care work? We’ll find out in a few weeks.

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