Monday, August 26, 2013

Dressed In Distress

Last Friday, we noted we didn't have time to fully cover what Eugene Robinson called the GOP's continued fantasyland behavior on Obamacare, or the simple fact as Jonathan Bernstein puts it that there won't be any GOP alternative to Obamacare because they don't have ANY plan to replace it. We've got time now, though.

We'd originally planned on addressing other issues today, since the GOP's failed rhetoric on Obamacare has already been addressed by everyone from Paul Krugman and Jared Bernstein on the left, to Juan Williams,  Newt Gingrich, and the conservative-leaning Rand Corporation on the right. In other words, people who have a great deal of experience on issues like health care and federal policy making.

However, after an embarrassingly slanted op-ed piece by Senator Deb Fischer was published in a newspaper in her home state over the weekend, filed with outright lies and misinformation, we felt it was our duty to point out her mistakes. After all, on the issue of Obamacare, the Republican Party currently resembles no one so much as the foolish swindlers in the iconic children's story, "The Emperor's New Clothes." Apparently, they've even swindled one of their own in Fischer.

We won't belabor Sen. Fischer's significant inexperience in federal health care policy, or in policy making at the Federal level, or that the piece bearing her name makes a mockery of its own headline. We won't even ding Fischer on the fact that her opinion piece has all the hallmarks of being written mostly by her staff, who were obviously cribbing off talking points from the Heritage Foundation, or stealing talking points from articles at The Hill.

We'll simply note the real facts, and let Fischer's ridiculous rhetoric lie, just as she did.

First, no one forced the small business owner that Sen. Fischer quotes in her piece to hire an outside consultant. There are many organizations that have broken down the health care law into easily understandable pieces and made that info available for free, online - including the government's own Healthcare.gov. The only way Sen. Fischer's small franchisee will be assessed a penalty is if the business owner picks unaffordable plans for her workers. That would force those workers onto the exchange, where they will get a subsidy, paid for in part by the penalty to their employer.

Secondly, Fischer and her staff appear to have been purposely lying and confusing numbers regarding the costs of premiums. The non-partisan CBO estimated the impact on premiums - but not the numbers Fischer was quoting. In fact, the premium increases Fischer cited actually all happened PRIOR to the ACA kicking in - meaning private insurance companies were raising the premiums on their own, OUTSIDE of the law over the past few years, in order to pad their own pockets before they're forced to give affordable coverage.

Small businesses, by the way, are NOT, in fact moving to part-time work staffs or dropping coverage. As Jonathan Cohn cited on Friday, that UPS decided to drop spousal coverage is a business decision that many companies are making today, since most spouses today work and can get coverage on their own.

Further, as the Rand Corporation pointed out, the delay in full implementation of the employer mandate will not have any serious effects in the short term. In fact, the delay in full implementation is specifically in part because people like Fischer have been spreading lies, fear, and misinformation - making the clear implementation of the law that much more difficult.

Finally, Fischer's point that she is committed to "scrapping the ACA and replacing it" with some amorphous Republican plan is the biggest lie of all. The Republican Party has had FIVE YEARS to come up with something - ANYTHING - different. As even Newt Gingrich admitted this month, the Republican Party has NO REPLACEMENT PLAN. None.

That those who paid Fischer's way to DC are now terrified that Nebraskans will see the freshman Republican Senator has no policy clothing of her own is obvious, made ever more clear by the words they shoved under her byline this weekend.

That any Senator would allow themselves to be made a fool of by the special interests that bought them and brought them to Washington is a failure in judgment we simply can't see as anything but incompetent.