This is Medicare: A single payer system which covers costs for the elderly and disabled. It is paid for by payroll taxes. It is not a voucher program. It is straight-up single payer health insurance. For Politifact to call Democrats' claim
December 21, 2011

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This is Medicare: A single payer system which covers costs for the elderly and disabled. It is paid for by payroll taxes. It is not a voucher program. It is straight-up single payer health insurance.

For Politifact to call Democrats' claim that Republicans voted to kill Medicare the Lie of the Year is patently absurd. It is a weird exercise in Orwellian double-speak. Up is down, right is wrong, vouchers equal Medicare. And worse, Politifact's logic requires so many leaps it will make your brain hurt.

• They ignored the fact that the Ryan plan would not affect people currently in Medicare -- or even the people 55 to 65 who would join the program in the next 10 years.

• They used harsh terms such as "end" and "kill" when the program would still exist, although in a privatized system.

• They used pictures and video of elderly people who clearly were too old to be affected by the Ryan plan. The DCCC video that aired four days after the vote featured an elderly man who had to take a job as a stripper to pay his medical bills.

"Both parties use entitlements as political weapons," Ryan said in an interview with PolitiFact. "Republicans do it to Democrats; Democrats do it to Republicans. So I knew that this would be a political weapon that the other side would use against us."

One of these things is not like the other. Vouchers are not Medicare. Medicare is not vouchers. Consider what would happen in ten years under the Ryan plan. You would have people coming into the system who would bear most of the cost themselves. Part of what they paid for Medicare would be padding insurers' coffers. Doctors, labs, hospitals and pharmaceutical manufacturers would be able to profit far more from those seniors coming in to voucherized health plans after ten years.

Worse, the seniors covered under traditional Medicare would find themselves squeezed out or put last in line because of the potential profit in the voucherized participants versus the plan where government is controlling costs.

Just for fun, I played with the differences when Ryan first proposed it, because my spouse would fall under the 55-65 group and I would be in the excluded voucher-eligible group. Let's just say it wasn't pretty at all. He would be able to receive the care he needed at a reasonable cost. I would need to save every single penny I could between now and age 66 to afford the differences, even as a relatively healthy person. In fact, healthy people are really hosed under the voucher plan, because we would be socked more for premiums from insurers with out availing ourselves of the benefits others need and would use.

Any way you turn it, Ryan's plan is not Medicare. As Ed points out, you can call it that, but that doesn't mean it really IS that.

Paul Krugman pronounces Politifact officially irrelevant:

Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system to buy private insurance — and not just that, a voucher system in which the value of the vouchers would systematically lag the cost of health care, so that there was no guarantee that seniors would even be able to afford private insurance.

The new scheme would still be called “Medicare”, but it would bear little resemblance to the current system, which guarantees essential care to all seniors.

Steve Benen is even more specific:

It seems foolish to have to parse the meaning of the word “end,” but if there’s a program, and it’s replaced with a different program, proponents brought an end to the original program. That’s what the verb means.

I’ve been trying to think of the best analogy for this. How about this one: imagine someone owns a Ferrari. It’s expensive and drives beautifully, and the owner desperately wants to keep his car intact. Now imagine I took the car away, removed the metallic badge off the trunk that says “Ferrari,” I stuck it on a golf cart, and I handed the owner the keys.

“Where’s my Ferrari?” the owner would ask.

“It’s right here,” I’d respond. “This has four wheels, a steering wheel, and pedals, and it says ‘Ferrari’ right there on the back.”

By PolitiFact’s reasoning, I haven’t actually replaced the car — and if you disagree, you’re a pants-on-fire liar.


I certainly hope the rigid literalists who work for Politifact don't ever have to make any decisions about anything important. They obviously don't do nuance. And they don't know how the internet works either.

Unfortunately, the Villagers will be gleefully using this as proof that their dreamy young idol Paul Ryan is a good guy after all but it's probably a good idea to demand another source for anyone who cites Politifact on the veracity of any claim going forward. This will make it easier on the Republicans in the beginning, since they actually make a profit at their lying, but in the long run it will be for good. Clearly Politifact can't tell the difference between a lie and and a fact and is subject to the most obvious right wing manipulation.

And John Cole asks the question that concerns me most:

Does anyone doubt that next year’s election will be the most deceitful one on record? And our failed media will lead the way, cheering “he said-she said” and “both sides do it.”

When so-called fact checkers call truth a lie, we have descended to a place we really, really don't want to be. Here are their names, the ones who decided it was more important to pander to the right wing and soothe retirees' ruffled feathers than tell the truth.

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