Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 9, 2011

BACHMANN'S IGNORANCE KNOWS NO BOUNDS.... The enduring question about Republicans' unhinged rhetoric is whether the speaker is lying or crazy. With Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), it's especially challenging, but I tend to go with the latter -- she strikes me as entirely sincere and stark raving mad. Her accusations are truly idiotic, but I don't doubt that Bachmann actually believes them.

Alas, sincerity only goes so far when politicians mislead the country.

Over the weekend, Bachmann appeared on "Meet the Press" and said she knew of a "shocking" revelation. "[W]e discovered that secretly, unbeknownst to members of Congress, over $105 billion was hidden in the Obamacare legislation to fund the implementation of Obamacare," she said, holding up a little sign with the dollar figure. "This is something that wasn't known. This money was broken up, hidden in various parts of the bills. "

Host David Gregory didn't follow up on this, presumably because he had no idea what she was talking about, but Bachmann continues to be pretty hysterical about this. Yesterday, she called the funds allegedly hidden in the carefully-scrutinized Affordable Care Act "a crime against democracy."

As is often the case, the problem here is that Bachmann has no idea what she's talking about. Glenn Kessler ran a detailed fact-check piece and took Bachmann's nonsense apart.

There is a total of $105 billion identified over 10 years in the CRS report, though only three programs, worth a little more than $25 billion, are funded the full 10 years. Most of the other programs listed in the report are funded for just a year or two, or perhaps five years. If Congress wants to alter this spending, it will need to pass a new law.

Istook, in an interview, acknowledged, "Congress has the authority to change this, that's absolutely right," but as a former member of the Appropriations Committee he believed it is inappropriate for a bill authorizing new programs to also fund so many of them.

Administration officials and other analysts, however, note that regularly appropriated money -- also known as mandatory spending -- is common in major pieces of health care legislation involving Medicare, Medicaid and the like. There are many other programs in the bill that are subject to annual appropriations, just not the ones identified in the CRS report.

Long story short, the Affordable Care Act included funding to implement the Affordable Care Act. Separate parts of the legislation included separate funding mechanisms, which is the norm with any major bill. Nothing was "secret" or "hidden" about any of this.

Kessler gives Bachmann "Four Pinocchios" for this nonsense, but the Pinocchio Test suggests she's lying. I don't think that's the case -- Bachmann just isn't smart enough to lie effectively. Someone probably tried to explain this part of the health care law to her, she understood a portion of it, and then used a twisted imagination to fill in the gaps and craft a remarkable story for herself, which she immediately embraced as true.

The same exact thing happened a couple of years ago. Bachmann heard a little bit about the dollar and its use as a global reserve currency, thought she understood it, and started ranting for weeks about "one-world currency," unaware of the fact that she was just confused about the basics of the policy.

The problem isn't that she's a liar. The problem is Bachmann combines two very serious flaws: she's mad as a hatter and conspicuously unintelligent.

Steve Benen 3:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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Comments

Michelle's going to be great fun for the Villagers when she becomes the Republican VP nominee in 2012. For their purposes, she doesn't have to be smart or sane, just Republican and good television.

Posted by: Midland on March 9, 2011 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that Bachmann's nuts and not very bright.

But that's not the real problem. The real problem is that she was reelected last year and most likely will be reelected next year.

The real problem is the not very bright people who elect somebody like this to represent them.

Posted by: K in VA on March 9, 2011 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Her sanity is irrelevant to the beltway press. Hell, it's probably a bonus for them. She will still be invited on TV and given a platform to spout her nonsense.

Posted by: Holmes on March 9, 2011 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's a sign that something very bad has happened to US democracy that people like Palin and Bachmann have become so prominent. And the situation is not getting better.

Posted by: davidp on March 9, 2011 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK
The enduring question about Republicans' unhinged rhetoric is whether the speaker is lying or crazy.

The comedian Rita Rudner had a line about dating through the personals: "It's hard to distinguish between the people who are lying and the people who are hallucinating."

Posted by: navamske on March 9, 2011 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

For as long as I've been alive, there have been nuts in Congress. With 24/7 news, they simply get more air time, particularly if they are physically attractive, and seem more important as a result.

Posted by: mlm on March 9, 2011 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't she a lawyer and practised tax law before getting elected? I would have thought she had to display significant intelligence to pass the bar exams. I wonder about her clients. Is she more recently suffering some mental illness? With Republicans it is so hard to figure out.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on March 9, 2011 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

The Heritage guys link to the WaPo piece and call it a win for them!

Posted by: DonBoy on March 9, 2011 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Previous was via a Dave Weigel retweet, for the record.

Posted by: DonBoy on March 9, 2011 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Bah! You call THAT a conspiracy? I'll give you a real one I uncovered. It seems that on many, many streets and roads, all across the USA, if you drive at a certain speed, ALL the lights turn green as you approach!
Obviously, a New World Order conspiracy, to allow the UN troops rapid access to out vital bodily fluids- and Michelle Bachmann. . .

Posted by: DAY on March 9, 2011 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

WARNING!
MODS AND OTHERS!!!
That comment # 2 at 3:40 wasn't me.

I don't recommend anyone go to that link, because I don't know what kind of ugly nonsense will be there from the person who steals, or abuses, my handle.

Still a gutless punk, whoever it is that doing this. I guess you're Momma's proud of such a gutless little punk. Maybe she's one too.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 9, 2011 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Ernest Istook is quoted as the Heritage Foundation authority on this? ERNEST ISTOOK ???!! This guy was a dim bulb the entire time he served (& I use the term loosely) in Congress. I thought we managed to eliminate him from public discourse years ago. The fact that he's still hanging around Washington, issuing "think" pieces, is a sad commentary on our lack of ability to kick these guys back home once they lose an election.

Posted by: Arlington BigFish on March 9, 2011 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, be fair now. The Mad Hatter is MUCH saner than Michelle Bachmann. I puf her in the same category as some of one of old fraternity brothers who always talked about how if he could just find the right phrase, the treasures of the universe and the federal reserve would fall at his feet.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on March 9, 2011 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, be fair now. The Mad Hatter is MUCH saner than Michelle Bachmann. I puf her in the same category as some of one of old fraternity brothers who always talked about how if he could just find the right phrase, the treasures of the universe and the federal reserve would fall at his feet.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on March 9, 2011 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Bachmann worked for the IRS as an attorney, litigating tax cases in Minnesota for about 5 years, according to Wikipedia.

I would really like to know what kind of cases she worked on. I suspect she was a low-level attorney, who handled routine cases involving individuals who failed to file or failed to pay the taxes due. These kinds of cases are basically, fill-in-the-blanks, file and serve the papers with the right court and parties and move on to the next one.

The statements she has made in recent years seem incredibly scattered and ill-informed. It's hard to imagine the person making those statements as smart enough or focused enough to perform competently as a litigator at any level above that of the absolutely routine cases.

Does anyone out there have any information about her career as an attorney?

Posted by: DRF on March 9, 2011 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, maybe it's Michele Bachmann's who's stealing my handle!

No, she may be stupid and insane, but she has the guts to use her own name, or some 'real' handle.


Not like whoever, or whatever, this gutless punk around here does.

You want to bring it, punk?
You don't have the smarts. In a battle of "wits," it'll be tough for anyone to figure which one you are:
Half?
Nit?
or, Dim?
My money's on the trifecta.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 9, 2011 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

I would have thought she had to display significant intelligence to pass the bar exams.

I've known plenty of attorneys who were dumb as doorknobs. Passing the bar can't be that though. Tedious and stressful, yes, depending on the state, but there are far too many really stupid attorneys for it to require "significant intelligence." And you can take several shots at it.

Posted by: martin on March 9, 2011 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Heehee, the WaPo headline should be "Bachman throws Bachman under the bus."

Only Congress has the power to fund anything. The Executive branch can't fund anything on its own-the money has to be appropiriated by the Legislature. So when poor Michele speaks of "hiding money" like it's in some tiny little cubbyhole in the vast, giant, monstrous health care bill she's really saying Congress, and thus, Michele Bachmann really don't know WTF they're doing.

Posted by: puravida on March 9, 2011 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

1) Republican tells a lie on a popular national news program.
2) The host of the national TV program fails to point out the lie.
3) Obscure Web site corrects the lie obscurely
4) The American public believe the lie.
5) Advantage: Republicans

Posted by: Gregory on March 9, 2011 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

What, in surveying today’s political landscape, would prompt Steve to label conspicuous unintelligence a “serious flaw?”

And because I love driftglass when he makes David Not-Brooks look like a blow-up doll, I should mention that Gregory doesn’t exactly blow out the lights in the house, thinking wise. I think Steve gave him too much credit for not following up. He routinely lets John McCain blather on without correcting the record.

Posted by: elnuestros on March 9, 2011 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

It's Gregory I hold at fault here too. Even if he had no idea of what the supposedly secret $105b she was referring to was, he should have asked the simple question: "Representative Bachmann, did you read the bill before voting on it? If you did, you must have seen these figures, so they can't be 'secret'. If you didn't read the bill before voting on it, how in good conscience can you vote for or against it? Isn't that an irresponsible? Isn't that your job? To propose legislation, read the legislation that is presented by others, and vote based on an informed opinion?"

Posted by: Old Patch on March 9, 2011 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

NEWS FLASH: The sun rose this morning. Michelle Bachmann is still stupid. More at 11.

Posted by: Cazart on March 9, 2011 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you that Gregory didn't ask the most obvious follow up question of all: How was it hidden? Wasn't the bill read the bill before voting?

I mean, besides being completely uncontroversial, it was also there in black and white, plain as day. It's not like the funds were authorized via cryptoquip.

Posted by: doubtful on March 9, 2011 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

The problem isn't that she's a liar. The problem is Bachmann combines two very serious flaws: she's mad as a hatter and conspicuously unintelligent.

K in VA on March 9, 2011 at 3:41 PM had it right. The problem isn't that she's crazy or stupid. There are lots of people like that in this country. The problem is that she, and others like her, have found a way to get elected to a very powerful position, and her constituents don't really care.

Posted by: Marko on March 9, 2011 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

P.A. comments gain a greater resemblance to an Ionesco play every day.

Posted by: chi res on March 9, 2011 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

"The problem isn't that she's a liar. The problem is Bachmann combines two very serious flaws: she's mad as a hatter and conspicuously unintelligent."

Ladies and gentlemen, your next nominee for the 2012 Republican (vice?) presidential ticket....Michelle Bachmann!

Posted by: danimal on March 9, 2011 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

She's also a UPOP, but I don't wish to define the acronym here. Bachman needs electroshock therapy. I don't know if she has advanced syphilis or if the Paxil/Methamphetamine combo had steered her off but she is off!

Posted by: Trollop on March 9, 2011 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

"...The problem is Bachmann combines two very serious flaws: she's mad as a hatter and conspicuously unintelligent."-Benen

...but she is also a liar because when she is shown the real facts she will also lie rather than admit she is wrong. How does such an obviously insane idiot keep getting elected? She insults our intelligence every time she opens her mouth and yet there she is on MTP. The dancing bears and juggling monkeys must have already been booked.(and why did she have that sign neatly tucked in her arms on MTP??)

Posted by: bjobotts on March 9, 2011 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Crazy, stupid and a lying shit-head. Michelle Bachmann's got it all!

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 9, 2011 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

It really fries me that Bachmann gets so much face time on TV, yet her fellow Minnesotan Al Frankin gets so little.

It really is a crime that progressives are virtually shut out of the Sunday talk shows.

Posted by: worcestergirl on March 9, 2011 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

FWIW: Fellow looney Rep King of IA is on the floor now ranting about the $105billion and the tricks of Obamacare. Can't really bear to watch. Maybe there's something about Charlie Sheen on.

Posted by: martin on March 9, 2011 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

This is indeed a scathing indictment; however, it begs the question, Why did it take the Republican congresswoman and former Congressman Ernest Istook of Oklahoma two years to uncover and expose the pre-funding of 105 billion dollars? It seems that the chickens are coming home to roost after all. The Democrats stole Uncle Sams car and took it for a joy ride while the Republicans were asleep at the gate. And now Ms. Bachmann cries, Fowl!

Posted by: nursetom on March 9, 2011 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Ive known teenagers with more moxy, wit and intelligence than both Bachmann and King combined! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 9, 2011 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

*sigh* Mods, check on posts at 5:26, 5:28, and 5:29.

Posted by: Athena on March 9, 2011 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

"The problem . . .: she's mad as a hatter and conspicuously unintelligent."

The problem is that she's given a national TV "news" forum on "Meet the Press," which, I suppose is as hungry for wacko-driven human-interest as FOX.

Posted by: MartinOne on March 9, 2011 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

If only Mark Twain were still alive to meet Palin and Bachmann!

Posted by: alan on March 9, 2011 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

If Bachmann and her corporate cronies had voted for the bill, then I'd consider this good theater; something along the lines of, "if only I had known that before I cast my vote". But alas, zero Republicans voted for ACA so the "unbeknownst to members of Congress" line falls pretty damn flat. Even if some Republicans had been "tricked" into voting yes, then it would fall under the incompetent or to lazy to read the bill category.

I'll put this in the doesn't stand up to logic /shitty theater category. Which means FOX will be all over it.

Posted by: AndThenThere'sThat on March 9, 2011 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

In considering Ms. Bachmann's passing the bar exam as a sign of intelligence, may I remind everybody that Orly Taitz, after immigrating from Israel, managed, after what seems to have been basically a year of self-study, to pass the California Bar Exam. I don't quite know what's going on there, but I've thought for some time that passing the bar exam can't be as hard as it's usually made out. Or are most lawyers such dim bulbs?

Posted by: Metuant on March 12, 2011 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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