Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously told an opponent in a debate: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." I was reminded of that last Thursday when former corporate raider Mitt Romney, who made millions out-sourcing American jobs to foreign countries, expressed his opinion on the Supreme Court's decision upholding Obamacare. In just one paragraph of his speech, Romney made six claims that bear no relation to the real world. He created "fake-facts" about health care reform and totally distorted the law's real impact. This is an old Karl Rove campaign tactic -- make things up -- on steroids. It needs to be exposed.
1. Romney said Obamacare "cuts Medicare, by approximately $500 billion." This claim is meant to scare seniors, but it is simply false. PolitiFact.com has this to say about this bogus claim: "The bill doesn't take money out of the current Medicare budget but, rather, attempts to slow the program's future growth, curtailing just over $500 billion in anticipated spending increases over the next 10 years." Those savings come from a variety of administrative changes and things like requiring Medicare Advantage plans to reduce their inflated costs. The law makes no cuts to guaranteed Medicare benefits. In fact, it increases Medicare benefits by improving the prescription drug benefit and by making cancer screenings and other preventive services available without a co-pay.
2. Romney said Obamacare "raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion." False. In fact, families across the nation will save money as a result of the Obamacare reforms, such as state-based exchanges that come online in 2014. Families who purchase private health insurance through these exchanges will save up to $2,300 each year on their health care spending. Millions of Americans already see real savings as their out-of-pocket costs go down to zero for preventive care like flu shots or cancer screenings.
3. Romney says Obamacare "adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt." False. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that Obamacare will reduce the national deficit by $210 billion over the next 10 years.
4. Romney says Obamacare will force up to 20 million Americans to "lose the insurance they currently have." False. Rather than losing insurance, millions of Americans will get insurance for the first time. CBO and the Joint Economic Committee estimate that the number of people without health insurance coverage will be reduced by 30 million to 33 million by 2016 if the states implement the law as intended.
5. Romney says Obamacare is "a job-killer." False. It takes a lot of nerve for a politician who has endorsed the job-killing agenda of Paul Ryan and the House Republicans to try to label health care reform as a job-killer. In fact, one recent study suggests that the lower growth in health care costs through Obamacare will create 250,000 to 400,000 thousand new jobs in many industries annually throughout the next decade.
6. Romney says "Obamacare puts the federal government between you and your doctor." False. Obamacare removes the insurance companies from their position between you and your doctor. Remember, under Obamacare, insurance companies can no longer end your health coverage if you become ill or deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. And insurance companies will have to spend 80 percent of the money they take in on health care - not on administrative costs or CEO salaries - and refund the money to their customers if they don't meet the target. Before the end of the summer, 12.8 million Americans will receive rebates because their insurance company spent too much of their premium dollars on administrative costs or CEO bonuses.
What Mitt Romney is doing should be clear to everyone. His campaign has done some polling on what people don't like and they have decided to attribute all those things to Obamacare, even when they bear no relation to reality. These are "fake-facts" designed to make an honest debate impossible. They are an insult to the intelligence of the American people and should be repudiated by any American who recognizes the value of a true debate about real facts.
It is clear that Romney and his allies have decided not to discuss Obamacare factually. They know that if they told the truth about the law, the public would not support their efforts to overturn it. Instead, they are creating a totally false picture of the legislation - they are inventing their own "fake-facts" - and hope to deceive the American public into opposing the far-reaching reforms that Americans have fought so hard to win over the decades. Pay attention as the campaign goes forward. When you hear Romney and other politicians say these things, tell your friends and coworkers that they are spreading lies. They are out of touch with reality. What they are doing is a disgrace. Don't let them get away with it.
Follow Lee A. Saunders on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AFSCME