Political Animal


April 10, 2012 3:31 PM New “ObamaCare Study”—Agitprop A La Carte

By Ed Kilgore

You might have seen a headline in the Washington Post today, or a link to the Lori MontgomeryWaPo story at any number of conservative sites, touting a “new study” showing that ObamaCare would “add $340 billion to deficit.”

Jonathan Chait helpfully says pretty much everything that needs to be said to debunk the idea that this is anything particularly new or worth worrying about. I won’t quote the whole thing or go through his reasoning, but basically the “new study” is just another GOP effort (authored by Republican Medicare trustee Charles Blahous) uaimed at “proving” that ACA adds rather than detracts from the federal budget deficit, in this case by pretending much of its Medicare savings would have been achieved anyway, thus denying them a spot on the positive side of the ledger. Here’s Jon’s bottom line:

Blahous is the Republican trustee for Medicare, so that title offers the hook for a paper he writes that, by adopting some mighty odd hypothetical scenarios, says that Obamacare will boost the deficit. Blahous’s government position gives the claim enough juice that it can be pitched as a “study” by a government official, as opposed to just another Republican-authored polemic, which would never receive such prominent or relatively credulous coverage. The next step is for conservatives to adopt Blahous’s figure as the “true” figure — but of course never to apply his strange assumptions to the GOP budget or to any other proposal — and browbeat the media into citing that alongside the CBO figure, for “balance.”

Since GOPers have been making all sorts of wild claims about ObamaCare’s cost since well before it was ever enacted, the only thing newsworthy about this a la carte bit of agitprop is that the Washington Post reported it as credible. Thanks a lot, Lori.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Quaker in a Basement on April 10, 2012 3:29 PM:

    As I understand it, Blahous has discovered the shocking truth that a dollar that is not spent today may yet be spent at some future date!!

    Someone alert the Nobel Prize committee.

  • RalfW on April 10, 2012 3:32 PM:

    I await Politifact boosting their credibility (and clubby friendliness to the Post) by rating Jon Chait X-infinity pants of fire.

  • SecularAnimist on April 10, 2012 3:34 PM:

    Ed Kilgore wrote: "the only thing newsworthy about this a la carte bit of agitprop is that the Washington Post reported it as credible"

    "Newsworthy"? Please. This is a "dog bites man" story.

    The Washington Post reports Republican propaganda as "credible" every day of the week. That is its function.

  • wordtypist on April 10, 2012 3:44 PM:

    This is typical Lori Montgomery reporting. She knows nothing so she is a blank slate that she makes available to any republican who wants a false story published in a "credible" publication. WAPO was until it fired most of its editors and hired an ombudsman who has no credibility himself.

  • Rich on April 10, 2012 3:56 PM:

    Montgomery almost inevitably writes lede that obviously have come from GOP Hill staffers or rightwing position paper mills. She might get some opposing views, but they're buried well into a piece. She really needs to be enshrined for her willful use as a tool in much the same way as Ken Starr steno Ceci Connolly or Iraq hack Judith Miller.

  • Arlington BigFish on April 10, 2012 3:58 PM:

    Needless to say, Jennifer Rubin is pushing the Blahous study with all her usual flack-ishness.

  • TCinLA on April 10, 2012 6:22 PM:

    If today's otherwise-unemployable political illiterates working at the Washington Pest had been there 40 years ago, Nixon would be President for Eternity (that includes the 2012 model Bob Woodward)

  • howie on April 11, 2012 7:59 AM:

    Word to word and Rich. Lori is the worst. I had an email battle with her over her insistance that cloture votes meant that Congress had voted down Obama's bills.

    She hid behind the one where the right also critcizes her, so she must be doing it right.

    She's one of the village stenographers.