THEY JUST DON’T CARE…. Perhaps the most exasperating aspect of health care debate was the incessant lying. An aggressive rhetoric fight over ideological goals makes sense, and plenty of overheated predictions are to be expected, but claims made by opponents of reform turned out to be so soul-crushingly false, it was genuinely depressing.
At one point, during the House debate, Ruth Marcus marveled at the “appalling amount of misinformation being peddled” by Republicans. “I don’t mean the usual hyperbole…. I mean the flood of sheer factual misstatements,” she said at the time. “You have to wonder: Are the Republican arguments against the bill so weak that they have to resort to these misrepresentations and distortions?”
Actually, they were that weak. The Affordable Care Act had its flaws, but GOP officials simply weren’t prepared for a credible discussion of the policy. So they lied uncontrollably. They’d tell a falsehood, be shown proof that it wasn’t true, and then repeat the falsehood anyway. It was as depressing a display as anything I’ve ever seen in the American political discourse, and it’s directly responsible for the widespread public confusion about the reform law that still exists.
A year later, Republicans are still trying to kill the policy — and they’re still lying. We’re not talking about exaggerations; we’re talking about demonstrable errors of fact. Today, for example, Washington’s two most powerful Republicans — House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — have an op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer, condemning the law they failed to kill. It reads like a greatest-hits collection of obvious falsehoods.
Throughout the debate over the Democrats’ $2.6 trillion government takeover of health care, Americans were concerned that the measure would increase costs, force them off of coverage they like, and make it harder to create new jobs.
The “government takeover” line was named the Lie of the Year in 2010. They’re still telling it. What’s more, after the ACA became law, job creation went up, not down, including in the health care sector.
That was absolutely ridiculous when Republicans first started making the attack, and it’s even more offensive now, given that GOP leaders can’t defend this obviously-wrong argument that they keep making.
Taken together, these broken promises illustrate why so many Americans continue to support a full repeal — which the new Republican-led House has passed — followed by common-sense reforms that will actually lower costs, improve care, and protect jobs.
The clear majority of the country opposes “a full repeal,” and if Republicans have a reform plan that lowers costs, improves care, and protects jobs, they should stop talking about it and actually put it on the table.
Boehner and McConnell have had more than enough time to (a) learn a little something about health care policy; and (b) come up with a way to discuss it honestly and intelligently. But they’ve failed on both counts, in part because they know people will believe lies, and in part because they know the media won’t make much of an effort to set the record straight.
So they keep lying, knowing they can fool a whole lot of the people a whole lot of the time.