Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 4, 2011

HOW TO DEFEND THE INDEFENSIBLE.... Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made his "Meet the Press" debut the other day, and was asked about his support for the Republican plan to end Medicare. Given the number of retirees in Florida, Rubio's position is of particular interest.

He responded that the GOP proposal "doesn't cut Medicare," adding, "The only people in this town that have voted to cut Medicare spending are the people who voted in favor of Obamacare. That's a fact."

Except, that's not a fact at all. Jonathan Cohn explains today, "It's becoming pretty clear how Republicans plan to defend their budget. They're going to lie about it."

Yes, the Affordable Care Act reduces spending on Medicare. But it does so gradually, by establishing a long-term goal of allowing the program to grow at the same rate of gross domestic product plus one additional percentage points -- that is, GDP+1. And it's a goal in the truest sense of the word. If the program's starts growing at a faster pace, there are mechanisms to slow it down but not necessarily to get it all the way back to GDP+1.

The Republican budget, by contrast, would hold the cost growth of Medicare to the consumer price index, or CPI. CPI grows considerably slower than GDP, let alone GDP+1, so that's no small thing. The Republican budget would also enforce this target rigidly, by handing seniors vouchers whose value is set by a fixed, pre-determined formula. At the same time, the Republican budget would dramatically reduce the federal investment in Medicaid, on which so many of the elderly rely for supplemental coverage and/or long-term care, particularly nursing homes.

Overall, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the difference between the two plans goes from about 1 percentage point of GDP in 2022 to between 7 and 9 percentage points of GDP by 2050.

In other words, Rubio's on-air response wasn't even close to being accurate. I'm sure the right liked it -- the senator was rehashing misleading arguments from 2010, and got to say "Obamacare" a bunch of times -- but as Cohn noted, Rubio's answer was "pretty much the opposite of the truth."

It's likely Rubio didn't know he was deceiving a national television audience. He was no doubt prepped on what to say, and the senator, who doesn't appear to be especially bright, repeated the same phrases over and over again in the interview, reinforcing the notion that he was clinging to his talking points with all of his might.

Or maybe Rubio is a secret wonk and knew exactly what he was talking about, in which case he was shamelessly lying through his teeth.

But the one thing I'd add to Cohn's report, which is worth reading in full, is how "Meet the Press" host David Gregory responded to Rubio's lying. There was some pushback, but it was mild and superficial, and viewers likely had no idea the senator's comments were completely wrong. Indeed, the transcript offers a script for how Republicans should lie their way through the debate: say the plan to end Medicare actually "saves" the program, and if pressed, say Democrats don't have a plan of their own.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

As is so often the case, the choice we're faced with here is, once again, is: "is (insert GOP lawmaker/pundit/apologist here) purposefully and maliciously deceiving the public, or are they simply ignorant and/or incompetent?"

Either way...

Posted by: aleupp on May 4, 2011 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I never thought I'd find ANYONE who'd make me miss Timmeh...

Why can't NBC give Maddow "Suppress the Meat" Stretch's show?

OK, I know.
Because Republicans are terrified of her because she doesn't swallow their bullsh*t, like every other clown with a TV show.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 4, 2011 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Allow me to point out that GOP politicians are relentlessly media trained, and part of that preparation includes learning how to endlessly repeat talking points and catch phrases in interviews.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on May 4, 2011 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

It's likely Rubio didn't know he was deceiving a national television audience

You often say things like this. What basis do you have for the statement?

Posted by: foosion on May 4, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Let me get this straight. The Ryan plan was "serious" because he put something out there that really took an axe to entitlements like Medicare, dramatically reducing the government's obligations and thus solving our deficit problem. Oh, but his plan doesn't "cut" Medicare at all now? Then how does it save any money?

Republicans are basically asking the public to believe that Ryan's plan saves all this money, but does so magically without actually cutting Medicare. Roger that.

Posted by: jonas on May 4, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

The hosts and "journalists" on those news shows serve the same function as the co-host on Home Shopping who says, "I've never seen such a beautiful cubic zirconia!"

Posted by: SaintZak on May 4, 2011 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

The show is MEET THE PROPAGANDISTS ......... and that is exactly what it is ... and of course it is 'hosted' by one of the biggest corporate cum sluts of all: David Gregory. It is what he is paid to do. And it is exactly how it is meant to work: the Repiglicans lie about everything, it is not questioned by the 'host' other than, at rare times, some kind of milk toast 'push back' that only serves as 'cover' for the corporate host. So the lies then become megaphoned by the corporate media without any questioning of the lie. It is simply left to stand on it's own. The, the 'low information' voter, i.e. imbeciles, take in the lie megaphoned by the corporate media and then, gee whiz, it is now 'reality'. This is exactly how it works. It is intentional. It is what the various corporate cum sluts that are what we call the 'media elite' are hired to do.

Posted by: stormskies on May 4, 2011 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

David Gregory is an embarrassment to his profession. Most prostitutes are better looking.

Posted by: SW on May 4, 2011 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

David Gregory earned his spurs asking hard questions as a member of the Whitehouse Press Corps. Since then he has become a pushover. NBC might as well hire Katy Couric to host Meet the Press.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 4, 2011 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

The other lie in Rubio's response is that the Ryan budget proposal keeps all of the Medicare cuts that were in Obamacare and that the Republicans ran against last fall.

Posted by: rana on May 4, 2011 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Considering the earlier post about the Ryan Budget Proposal and its individual mandates for health insurance, and the blatant lies told about "death panels" during the crusade against ACA, the Republicans seem to have learned something very valuable. Nobody actually reads the bills before Congress. Certainly average Americans and the members of Congress who vote on the bills don't seem to know what is in them. For Democratic proposals, the lack of time to read through the bills and digest what is in them is often portrayed as a bug, but when it is a Republican bill it seems to be a feature.

I suspect a big part of the problem is that Democrats are more prone to actually read what is in the bills they vote on (think Barney Frank and Anthony Weiner), so just feeding them mendacious talking points won't work, unless they are apt to lie willingly (which, I suspect, not even the Republicans are so inclined). So, once again, the Democrats come to the rumble armed with knives and the Republicans are carrying their Glocks and Uzis.

Posted by: majun on May 4, 2011 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

These Talking Heads shows are simply Conservative propaganda outlets. Instead of being obvious about it like FOX, they pretend to be news/journalist programs simply presenting opposing views on a given subject. The problem, which is clear, is that they have many more conservative/GOP/TP guests than liberals. In fact, they repeatedly guest guys like McCain and LIEberman who are jokes. They allow the Right Wing people to get away with mis-statements and lies on a weekly basis, only pushing back slightly to the most aggregious assertions. Mostly they let them go unchallenged. Truth and facts are routinely balanced by Wingnut lies. This is because the NETWORKS are OWNED by Conservative Corporate masters.
How many damn times do we have to say this?

Posted by: T2 on May 4, 2011 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP got together and made up their talking points on this (De Mint says 'it's not the end of Medicare, it's a new beginning); this shill says Obamacare does what we did, and much worse.

These guys are lame. No matter how much the health insurance industry and Wall Street want to get their mitts on their money, the people KNOW.

Their talking points are utterly lame, and they will not fly,even if the NYT pushes them to the hilt, just like these ridiculous news shows.

Posted by: jjm on May 4, 2011 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

"The only people in this town that have voted to cut Medicare spending are the people who voted in favor of Obamacare. That's a fact." - Marco Rubio

Reminds me of the right-wing lying e-mail messages I used to get, which came with "this has been confirmed by Snopes", to bolster their "case". Being a Doubting Thomasina, I'd dutifully check with Snopes and, by golly!, discover that statement was less than factual. So I'd write back - to the sender but Cc-ing to the entire list it had been sent to. I'd enclose the relevant Snopes URL (calling BS) and ask: "Did you just mindlessly forward this message without checking, or were you deliberately lying and hoping that people would take you at your word and not check for themselves?"

Sadly, all my former Repub "friends" have given up on trying to convert me and I am no longer a recipient of their bald lies and sneaky innuendos...

Posted by: exlibra on May 4, 2011 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

The Sunday news shows have become infomercials. I learn just about as much watching ads for Colonial Penn life insurance.

Posted by: jeri on May 4, 2011 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

"how "Meet the Press" host David Gregory responded to Rubio's lying. There was some pushback, but it was mild and superficial, and viewers likely had no idea the senator's comments were completely wrong."

Is this supposed to be news?! That description fits Gregory's MO with republicans week after week. Democrats are a different matter.

I'll never forget one episode I happened to see where Gregory basically gave Mitch McConnell the floor to lie through his teeth, then immediately started aggressively grilling the next guest, David Plouffe (who, BTW, completely schooled Gregory without breaking a sweat).

The guy is a fucking game show host masquerading as a talking head masquerading as a news man.

Oh, and I'm SHOCKED that Marco Rubio is a lying sack of shit. Not.

Posted by: bdop4 on May 4, 2011 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Article: "But the one thing I'd add to Cohn's report, which is worth reading in full, is how "Meet the Press" host David Gregory responded to Rubio's lying. There was some pushback, but it was mild and superficial, and viewers likely had no idea the senator's comments were completely wrong."

Don't expect any help from Corporate Boy in getting at the truth. Gregory is a tool and this iteration of Meet the Press is unwatchable.

Posted by: max on May 4, 2011 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the public is buying the "this saves Medicare" line from the Rethugs. But as usual, Democrats aren't pushing hard enough to counter this crap. Why isn't EVERY Democrat saying this, EVERY DAY? It's a winning issue.

Oh, I forgot -- they're Democrats.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on May 4, 2011 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Rubio's a fookin' gop liar. Did anyone correct him? Thought not.

Posted by: Cha on May 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

If we accuse Mr. Rubio of lying, we assume he has a set of morals he simply chooses to ignore when he lies. But I doubt Mr. Rubio and his cohorts in the Republican party have any such worry, and without worry, there are no morals, so as amoralists, these Republicans like Rubio are not lying, they're bullshitting!

Bullshit is very dangerous as the bullshitter has no morality to pull him back into the realm of the real and verifiable!

Ask Harry Frankfurt, as his small book, On Bullshit, explains it all! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 4, 2011 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK
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