Fact Checking the Health Care Summit


It was all the way back 1882 when Mark Twain famously wrote, "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress—but I repeat myself." So it's not terribly surprising to find out that, 100-odd years later, on a major issue like health care, neither side of the aisle really knows exactly what it's talking about—something that becomes even more obvious during seven hours of forced TV-yammering.

FactCheck.org has a pretty solid overview of many of the bluffs and blunders at yesterday's Health Who-Cares Summit. It catalogs a number of minor flubs—mostly legislators forgetting to differentiate between individual market and group premiums—but also gets at some of the bigger issues, in particular the cost question, which Sen. Lamar Alexander and President Obama batted around early on. The gist, as I reported last November, is that CBO estimates that overall premium prices will rise 10-13 percent in the individual market, but that for slightly more than half of those in that market, out of pocket costs will drop thanks to taxpayer-funded subsidies.

However, FactCheck.org's rundown doesn't cover what's was probably the day's most interesting segment, and what was actually a sort of embedded fact-check of the Senate bill, Rep. Paul Ryan's thorough deconstruction of the budgeting gimmicks used to squeeze the various health care bills into sub-trillion-dollar, deficit neutral packages. In just six minutes, he covers all the high points of last year's health care budget BS:

Double-counting! Back-loading! Cuts that aren't likely to be cuts! The "doc fix"! If you've been following along at Reason, none of it's new, but Ryan puts it all together pretty well.

Read lots more from Reason on health care and Paul Ryan.

NEXT: Friday Fun Link II: The Most Deranged Newspaper of Our Time, Co-Starring Matt Taibbi

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  1. Is it rational to attempt to regulate something you don’t understand?

  2. Paul Ryan, of course, should be hounded from office by all True Libertarians, for having the temerity to contradict The One True Faith with “pragmatic” votes on bills sure to pass anyway.

  3. He’s the most thoughtful, articulate Republican in generations.

    1. After Flake, he finds himself on my very short list of Congressmen I actually like.

  4. Ryan pwned Obama there.

    Granted, we didn’t hear Obama’s response, but then, I didn’t want to listen to him lying anyway.

    1. The Obama response is to call on someone else to talk. The Chosen One did not response to this fact checking.

  5. Caption Contest!


    1. Now that one really does qualify. RACIST!

  6. Where can I see Obama’s response?

    1. See my comment above.

    2. Obama’s response was to change the subject to Medicare Advantage and defend the cuts to that program. He didn’t address any of Ryan’s points.

  7. And Rep Xavier Becerra (D-CA) promptly accused Ryan of the sin of “calling into question the Congressional Budget Office”.

    1. Doesn’t the CBO pretty much constantly call its own reports into question?

      1. Not always, but they’ve really been begging people to read between the lines on health care, and stressing that they have to score what’s in the bill, even when it’s unlikely to be unamended or obvious shenanigans are going on.

  8. NPR had a long piece this morning detailing how Obama schooled the Repubicans and made them look like clueless obstructionists.

    1. You expected something different? I listen to NPR on the way to work. I can say the lines before they come out of the radio they are so predictable.

      1. No, I was not surprised.

    2. Why do bother listening? You can’t find anything else on? No sports talk radio. No inane morning show?

      This is one of two reasons I never listen to NPR.

  9. More proof that Republicans like to pick and choose which Congressional customs they support. They love the filiburster because it gives their pathetic minority party a chance to delay progress and score cheap partisan points, but they don’t like the custom of taking the analysis of the highly skilled professionals of the CBO at its word.

    1. Forrest,

      What Ryan said is from the CBO. You need to do a little research before you open your trap. Maybe actually reading the CBO reports would help.

      Second… every minority loves fillubsters. The dems were screming foul when the GOP was consering ramming through judicial nominees. Both sides are hypocritical on this one.

      1. Forrest is just a troll – don’t feed him.

        1. We get the message: anyone who voices non-libertarian opinions is a troll.

          1. Sorry to tell you: I don’t mind hearing and discussing non-libertarian opinions, but EJ is spot on on this one.

            Check the CBO’s analysis, and check its response to Ryan regarding what would happen if the real 10 year costs and doc fix were included. The CBO says what Ryan says.

          2. “We”?

            Do you think you’re royalty or just have a multiple personality disorder?

            1. He has a mouse in his pocket, hence the “we”.

              There is uncertainty about which “we” is smarter.

    2. Do you have no memory at all of 5 years ago?

      1. Yes, I do. The Republicans didn’t like the filibluster then, did they? More hypocrisy.

        1. And even though they didn’t like it, they did not pull the trigger on the “nuclear option”, did they?

          From you: more incomprehensible trollerific non-sequitors. Please pick your ass up at hat-check on your way out. Thank you.

          1. They would have pulled the trigger were it not for the Gang of 14, the seven Republicans of which were hammered in the conservative press as traitors.

        2. and the Dems did like it, but they don’t now. how are you so stupid as to not see the mirror image?

        3. No, really. PLEASE pick it up before Warty tries to claim it. It will get ugly…

        4. I hear I’ve been summoned. So, Forrest, do you shave that thing?

    3. he did take them at their word. he just said their analysis has to take the Dems at their word and not go beyond simply scoring the parameters given to them. calling into question the parameters given to the CBO is not attacking the CBO. i can see where it helps your narrative and cognitive dissonance to assert otherwise, but it ain’t so troll.

  10. Can some please explain to me how these allegedly smart people can look at a bill with 10 years of revenue, 6 years of expenditures, and with side bills designed to strip revenue away, and conclude that a bill legitimately costs X and sell it like that with a straight face.

    Are they stupid, willfully ignorant, or is it deceptive.

    1. deceptive. Duh.

    2. In varying degrees, all the above.

    3. Not to mention the fact that part of the cost was stripped out and moved elsewhere (the “doc fix”) to make the cost look lower.

      And the even more relevant fact that the REAL costs to the public included far more than just what is nominally running through the US Treasury – the costs of all the insurance coverage mandates, pre-existing condition bans, the cost pass through to customers that will occur with the taxes on medical device providers, etc. etc.

    4. I would definitely go all of the above, but don’t neglect malicious, mendacious, self-serving, delusional, narcissistic, and megalomaniacal.

    5. Some are stupid.

      Some are willfully ignorant.

      Some are deceptive.

      A few manage to pull off all three simultaneously.

  11. I’d have to say ‘All of the above.’

  12. FactCheck.org’s rundown doesn’t cover what’s was probably the day’s most interesting segment, and what was actually a sort of embedded fact-check of the Senate bill, Rep. Paul Ryan’s thorough deconstruction of the budgeting gimmicks used to squeeze the various health care bills into sub-trillion-dollar, deficit neutral packages.

    Factcheck.org? Now who funds that again? The Annenberg Foundation? Hmm, where have I heard that name? Oh, yeah, it funded one of the “Community Organizations” on whose board sat a certain terrorist and a certain future President of the USofA.

    So you asked Obama cheerleaders to check the “facts” on Obama and they produced and epic fail? Science, Suderman, the very first time I went to factcheck I figured this out. In the future, instead of “factcheck” think Pravda.

  13. Warty: “So, Forrest, do you shave that thing?”

    No, but he does wax his asshole, so you’ve got that going for you.

  14. There is noticeably a bunch to identify about this. I feel you made some good points in features also.

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