An odd definition of ‘spin’

AN ODD DEFINITION OF ‘SPIN’…. On ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, David Axelrod told Jake Tapper that Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) health reform bashing is rather ironic. Brown, Axelrod said, “comes from a state that has a health care format in his state that is similar to the one we’re trying to enact here. People in his state are overwhelmingly in support of it. He voted for it and said he wouldn’t repeal it. So we’re just trying to give the people in America the same opportunities that the people in Massachusetts have — to get health insurance at a price they can afford.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) rejected the premise out of hand.

“No way in the world is what they did in Massachusetts like what we’re about to do in Washington. They didn’t cut Medicare when they passed the bill in Massachusetts…. To suggest that Scott Brown is basically campaigning against the bill in Washington that is like the one in Massachusetts is complete spin.”

Now, Graham’s understanding of the basics of health care policy has always been rather tenuous, but this is just silly. The Democratic reform proposal is quite similar to the Massachusetts policy that Brown supported and Mitt Romney signed into law. And by “quite similar,” I mean “almost identical.”

Graham stresses the fact that Romney and Brown didn’t “cut Medicare.” Well, no, they didn’t, but that’s probably because state officials can’t cut federal programs, even if they wanted to.

Besides, as Paul Krugman explained, this talking point doesn’t really fit into the GOP framework anyway: “[T]hink about this a bit more: Republicans are saying that what makes Obamacare a socialist takeover, whereas Romneycare wasn’t, is the fact that unlike Romney’s plan, Obama’s plan cuts government spending. Oh, Kay.”

I realize why Graham has to rely on … what’s the word … spin. After all, President Obama and congressional Democrats are advancing a reform plan that’s exactly the kind of proposal that moderate Republicans — back when they existed — enthusiastically embraced. For Graham to acknowledge this would be to paint today’s GOP as having moved aggressively to the far-right. And while that would be true, it’d also be inconvenient.

But dismissing reality altogether doesn’t make the problem go away. That’s not spin; that’s just the facts.