BACHMANN’S IGNORANCE KNOWS NO BOUNDS…. The enduring question about Republicans’ unhinged rhetoric is whether the speaker is lying or crazy. With Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), it’s especially challenging, but I tend to go with the latter — she strikes me as entirely sincere and stark raving mad. Her accusations are truly idiotic, but I don’t doubt that Bachmann actually believes them.
Alas, sincerity only goes so far when politicians mislead the country.
Over the weekend, Bachmann appeared on “Meet the Press” and said she knew of a “shocking” revelation. “[W]e discovered that secretly, unbeknownst to members of Congress, over $105 billion was hidden in the Obamacare legislation to fund the implementation of Obamacare,” she said, holding up a little sign with the dollar figure. “This is something that wasn’t known. This money was broken up, hidden in various parts of the bills. ”
Host David Gregory didn’t follow up on this, presumably because he had no idea what she was talking about, but Bachmann continues to be pretty hysterical about this. Yesterday, she called the funds allegedly hidden in the carefully-scrutinized Affordable Care Act “a crime against democracy.”
As is often the case, the problem here is that Bachmann has no idea what she’s talking about. Glenn Kessler ran a detailed fact-check piece and took Bachmann’s nonsense apart.
There is a total of $105 billion identified over 10 years in the CRS report, though only three programs, worth a little more than $25 billion, are funded the full 10 years. Most of the other programs listed in the report are funded for just a year or two, or perhaps five years. If Congress wants to alter this spending, it will need to pass a new law.
Istook, in an interview, acknowledged, “Congress has the authority to change this, that’s absolutely right,” but as a former member of the Appropriations Committee he believed it is inappropriate for a bill authorizing new programs to also fund so many of them.
Administration officials and other analysts, however, note that regularly appropriated money — also known as mandatory spending — is common in major pieces of health care legislation involving Medicare, Medicaid and the like. There are many other programs in the bill that are subject to annual appropriations, just not the ones identified in the CRS report.
Long story short, the Affordable Care Act included funding to implement the Affordable Care Act. Separate parts of the legislation included separate funding mechanisms, which is the norm with any major bill. Nothing was “secret” or “hidden” about any of this.
Kessler gives Bachmann “Four Pinocchios” for this nonsense, but the Pinocchio Test suggests she’s lying. I don’t think that’s the case — Bachmann just isn’t smart enough to lie effectively. Someone probably tried to explain this part of the health care law to her, she understood a portion of it, and then used a twisted imagination to fill in the gaps and craft a remarkable story for herself, which she immediately embraced as true.
The same exact thing happened a couple of years ago. Bachmann heard a little bit about the dollar and its use as a global reserve currency, thought she understood it, and started ranting for weeks about “one-world currency,” unaware of the fact that she was just confused about the basics of the policy.
The problem isn’t that she’s a liar. The problem is Bachmann combines two very serious flaws: she’s mad as a hatter and conspicuously unintelligent.