Reader rusty emailed to tell us that FactCheck.org has decided to go down the rabbit hole along with Polifact on the “lie of the year” by criticizing Democratic ads referencing the Ryan Plan:
Medicare would have been fundamentally changed, but by no means “ended.” Those now under age 55 would have been given, when they reached age 65, a choice of private insurance plans, and federal subsides to help pay for one. That’s much like the system Democrats have enacted to cover many younger workers in their new health care law, and like the Medicare Advantage system that covers about one in four Medicare beneficiaries today.
The political and policy ignorance here is jaw-dropping. Democrats would have preferred Medicare for everyone but they couldn’t get it passed, so they compromised and settled for a lesser plan–anyone paying attention to Democratic politics in the last couple of years knows that. The difference between the Ryan Plan and Medicare Advantage is that Medicare Advantage recipients are guaranteed the same benefits as other Medicare recipients, and then those benefits are provided via private coverage (which is more expensive, by the way). This last point is what is completely missed in FactCheck’s discussions of this “lie”, as we can see in the next paragraph:
It would be fair game to debate whether the plan Republicans voted for would have been adequately funded, or whether it would have produced too much hardship for those turning 65 a decade from now. That $6,400 figure is a big one, to be sure. But picturing gray-haired seniors and telling them that the plan would “essentially end Medicare” is still far from the truth, even if Democrats think they can win elections by doing so.
The whole point of the argument about the Ryan Plan is that it guaranteed contribution plan rather than a guaranteed benefit plan. Switching from Medicare to the Ryan Plan is like switching from a pension to a 401K. You get a benefit intended to help with retirement, but nobody thinks that you’re getting the same thing. But who cares about pesky policy details, we know it’s a lie because it made uninformed, ignorant liberals like Krugman and Maddow mad:
Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” rating drew howls from liberal commentators and left-leaning news outlets, including MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, not to mention Democratic operatives, as though they collectively held a trademark on the name “Medicare.”
There are two ironies here. The first is FactCheck accusing Democrats of doubling down in a piece that resurrects Polifact’s stupid lie of the year and re-emphasizes its stupidity. The second is how they mock Democrats for taking ownership of Medicare in the middle of their weak attempt to own “facts”. Of course, we all remember how Barry Goldwater, Dick Nixon and Ronald Reagan came out strongly for Medicare back in ’65, right after they pushed through the Voting Rights Act.
By the way, FactCheck.org is run by totebagger hero Kathleen Hall Jamison, who is a fixture on Bill Moyers’ programs on PBS.