When is a myth really a lie?

March 13, 2010 by barbara

barbara writes

I find myself schlogging through the slough of despond again, wringing my hands whilst crying out into the bleak beyond, “Who can we trust? Oh, fine then. Whom?” It’s a darn good question. And the list is short.

One of my trusted sources is Paul Krugman (NY Times, Nobel Prize, et al). Infallible? Probably not. I’m not smart enough to know for sure. But I trust him. I believe most of what he says. And last week, Krugman weighed in on health reform myths.

Please read his op-ed piece in its entirety. What follows is a line on which to hang the whole of it.

(snip) …let me address three big myths about the proposed (health care) reform, myths that are believed by many people who consider themselves well-informed, but who have actually fallen for deceptive spin.

The first of these myths, which has been all over the airwaves lately, is the claim that President Obama is proposing a government takeover of one-sixth of the economy, the share of G.D.P. currently spent on health.

Well, if having the government regulate and subsidize health insurance is a “takeover,” that takeover happened long ago. Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs already pay for almost half of American health care, while private insurance pays for barely more than a third (the rest is mostly out-of-pocket expenses). Read on.

And the great bulk of that private insurance is provided via employee plans, which are both subsidized with tax exemptions and tightly regulated.

The only part of health care in which there isn’t already a lot of federal intervention is the market in which individuals who can’t get employment-based coverage buy their own insurance. And that market, in case you hadn’t noticed, is a disaster… (snip)

The second myth is that the proposed reform does nothing to control costs. (snip) The (Medicare) actuary’s assessment of the Senate bill, for example, finds that it would raise total health care spending by less than 1 percent, while extending coverage to 34 million Americans who would otherwise be uninsured....the Congressional Budget Office has just concluded, in a new report, that the arithmetic of reform will look better in its second decade than it did in its first.

Furthermore, there’s good reason to believe that all such estimates are too pessimistic. (snip) Realistically, health reform is likely to do much better at controlling costs than any of the official projections suggest.

Which brings me to the third myth: that health reform is fiscally irresponsible. How can people say this given Congressional Budget Office predictions — which, as I’ve already argued, are probably too pessimistic — that reform would actually reduce the deficit? (snip)

So what’s the reality of the proposed reform? Compared with the Platonic ideal of reform, Obamacare comes up short. If the votes were there, I would much prefer to see Medicare for all.
For a real piece of passable legislation, however, it looks very good. (snip)

This is a reasonable, responsible plan. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

You know what? (Oh, sure you do.) I am fed up and rising with Republican legislators’ “what’s best for you is predicated on what’s best for us” full frontal assault on every decent and moral and fiscally responsible piece of legislation in or booted out of the pipeline. What they are doing is wrong by every definition.

I am sick and tired of the baying of the blue dogs. They are a disgrace to their states and to the Democratic Party.

I am longing for someone other than Colbert, Maddow, Olbermann to become major spokesters for doing the right thing.

And where are the principled legislators? I’ll tell you where. Playing duck and cover in order to keep the jobs it seems to me they do not deserve to have. Is this really what we elected them to do? I think not.

Where are the principled journalists? McClatchy can’t do this alone.

Most of all, where are the outraged citizens of this country, who are passively ingesting pap and crap in mega-doses? Where are people who think? People who care enough about what’s happening in this country to stand up, stand firm and demand – yes, demand! – that the D.C. chess game from hell be aborted. Now.

Schlog. Schlog. Schlog.

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