GOP's Alternate Healthcare Reality

The score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the current healthcare reform bill is in. Or, at least, preliminary numbers. Those numbers look very good. According to Chris Frates with Politico, the bill would reduce the deficit by "$138 billion over the next decade, but cautions that it has not yet analyzed all the provisions. So far, it has analyzed $82 billion worth of savings." In a bill designed to bring down healthcare costs, savings to the government from Medicare, Medicaid, and employee health plans should surprise no one.

The release of the numbers has been a game-changer, with wavering Democrats coming around to support the bill in droves. Which is, of course, bad news for Republicans who are determined to stop this from becoming law at any cost. The CBO numbers just made that a lot more difficult. One observer, Washington Post editorial writer Ruth Marcus, put it this way:

So Democrats will be pointing to this preliminary CBO score as if it is engraved on stone tablets. Republicans will proclaim their respect for the CBO and proceed to argue that its estimates should not be taken too seriously in this instance. This may come as a surprise, but I think the Republican argument is closer to correct. To crow, as did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that the package is "a triumph for the American people in terms of deficit reduction" is premature at best, delusional at worst.

"Republicans will proclaim their respect for the CBO and proceed to argue that its estimates should not be taken too seriously in this instance?" I'm sorry Ruth, but where have you been for the last ten years at least? They might do that if they had any shame or integrity or respect for truth. But they don't. Republicans lie. If the truth doesn't serve them, then the truth becomes irrelevant. They'll just make crap up.

For example, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele. Speaking to CNN's Rick Sanchez, Steele came right out and accused the CBO of lying.

STEELE: Can you just give me an honest number, Rick? How much do you really, legitimately think, adding, using the president’s number, 30 million people to a health care system that you just said doesn’t work is going to cost the American taxpayer? How much you think it’s really gonna? $940 billion dollars over ten years. So, you telling me an additional $940 billion dollars a year is going to make all of our problems go away?

SANCHEZ: According to the calculations that we did and according to the calculations the Democrats are announcing today, it’s going to save in the deficit for the United States citizens $1.2 trillion. Do you believe that’s not true?

STEELE: Ok, can I, I got two words for you — three words, three words.

SANCHEZ: Go, go.

STEELE: That’s a lie.

That's the Republican way. Don't like a fact? Then it's not a fact. Just dismiss it. You don't need to make any argument for your position, you just make the declaration -- it's not a fact -- and it's game over, you win. Republicans like to talk about healthy debate, but they don't debate. A declaration isn't an argument. If one side is determined to deny reality, what's there to debate?

Another GOP mouthpiece who's declared the CBO numbers untrue is Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh has called the numbers "meaningless," "a scam," "a fraud," "phony," And "a sham." His evidence of this? None. He just says it and that means it's true. By the same standard of evidence, I can tell you without any doubt at all that Rush Limbaugh has a wooden, prosthetic head -- and it's slowly being eaten by termites. How sad for him... a double tragedy, really. Not only is he literally brainless, but what he has instead of a brain is infested with destructive insects. Try to keep your courage up, Rush. We're all pulling for you.

Let's be clear here, the Republicans have no interest in having this debate. If they were to deal with this honestly, they wouldn't have a leg to stand on. This isn't about a disagreement over healthcare reform, this is just the GOP being pissy about being in the minority. It's also about the 2010 elections. But what it's not about is your rising healtcare costs and a non-system of healthcare delivery that can't possibly be sustained. There's a healthcare crisis going on in America -- it's happening right now -- and the Republican Party is playing politics with it. It may be an overused cliche, but it applies here; the GOP is fiddling while Rome burns.

If the Republicans want to have a debate on healthcare reform, then the time has come and gone. They had their chance to have that debate -- and they refused. Instead, they threw a tantrum and made up an alternate reality in which everything they wanted to be true was true and everything they didn't was a lie. Delusion is not debate.


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