If you haven’t heard much about Tommy Thompson’s super subtle primer on “doing away” with Medicare and Medicaid, it’s probably because Thompson had already been in free fall for weeks when his remarks first surfaced.
But I wanted to very briefly propose that, whatever the incident’s impact on that race, it should once and for all put to rest the Fact-Checker stoked “dispute” about what the GOP’s plans for Medicare and Medicaid really are.
If before 2011 you understood how these programs functioned and knew the history of conservative disdain for them, nothing Paul Ryan and House Republicans did or said that year came as a huge surprise. Phasing out Medicare and replacing it with vouchers to buy private insurance has been a conservative goal since before Newt Gingrich wanted it to “wither on the vine.”
It was in that context that Democrats began attacking Republicans for voting to “end Medicare” or “end Medicare as we know it.” Democrats support single-payer health care for seniors, Republicans don’t, and want to replace the existing system with something else entirely.
Nobody expected Republicans to take that lying down. But the big surprise came when The Fact Checkersâ¢ clutched their pearls and, in the most enabling display of feigned naivetÃ© I’ve ever seen, basically scrubbed more than 40 years of conservative antipathy for the Great Society off the books.
PolitiFact called the “end Medicare” claim the “lie of the year” for 2011 and entered a brave new epistemological world defending the assessment.
“Liberal bloggers and columnists contend it’s accurate to say Republicans voted to end Medicare. Left-leaning websites such as Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, and The New Republic said PolitiFact’s analysis was wrong, as did New York Times columnist Paul Krugman,” PolitiFact admitted. But PolitiFact was not alone. Other independent fact-checkers also said the claim was false.”
Among those was the Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler, who rated the Medicare attack Pinocchius Maximum. “It is not true to claim Republicans are trying to ‘kill’ Medicare.”
Well, don’t take it from us. Take it from Tommy Thompson.