Paul Krugman: Republicans Have Declared War on Truth Itself

Accusing the media of being "fake news" has worked so well for the Republicans, they've decided to give it a try against anyone who dares question their atrocious policies. The GOP's latest target is the Congressional Budget Office, simply because it has the gall to score the latest disaster of a Senate health care bill. 

Why, Paul Krugman asks in his Monday column, should we trust the prognosis of the CBO over the word of White House aides and congressional Republicans? For starters, there's the White House's record of "constant, blatant lying about health care that is, as far as I can tell, without precedent in modern history." 

Vice President Mike Pence tried to tell America that Ohio's Medicaid expansion led to a reduction in aid for the disabled, which Ohio's own state government had to announce was false. Similarly, Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said on Fox News that the Senate bill would cover more Americans than the current Affordable Care Act. This was a particularly cynical lie, considering that, "You can’t cut hundreds of billions from Medicaid and insurance subsidies and expect coverage to grow!" 

The CBO isn't the only nonpartisan organization to give a damning assessment of the GOP's Better Care Reconciliation Act. "In fact," Krugman writes, "just about every group with knowledge of the issue has reached similar conclusions. In a joint letter, the two major insurance industry trade groups blasted the Cruz provision as 'simply unworkable.' The American Academy of Actuaries says basically the same thing. AARP has condemned the bill, as has the American Medical Association."

The GOP has attempted to discredit the Congressional Budget Office because it overestimated the number of people who would use the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges, but that was only because fewer employers dropped their coverage. Plus, Krugman continues, "Overall gains in coverage have been reasonably well in line with what the CBO projected—especially in states that expanded Medicaid and did their best to make the law work." 

You don't have to be a Nobel Prize-winning economist to know that repealing Obamacare would be a disaster. Do we want to go back to pre-ACA Texas, where 26 percent of the non-elderly population was uninsured? Do we want a plague of junk insurance, with what Krugman describes as "deductibles so large or coverage limitations so extensive as to be effectively useless when needed?" Or a return to discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions? 

True, he admits, hardcore libertarians might be fine with that outcome, but that's not what the GOP is arguing. Instead, "at every stage of this political fight they have claimed to be doing exactly the opposite of what they’re actually doing: covering more people, making health care cheaper, protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions. We’re not talking about run-of-the-mill spin here; we’re talking about black is white, up is down, dishonesty so raw it’s practically surreal. This isn’t just an assault on health care, it’s an assault on truth itself." 

No one, not even Krugman, can predict whether this assault on truth will be successful, or whether the cries of "fake news" will be as effective against the CBO as they have been against the press. But the health insurance of tens of millions hangs in the balance.

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