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