Thursday, July 7, 2011

The New Republic: "'Politifact' Unfairly Attacks The GOP"

Jonathan Chait of The New Republic blasts PolitiFact for a story unfair to Republicans. Chait's story is notable because he and TNR lean decidedly left.

Politifact slams the Republicans:
The important point in each examination is that $500 billion -- the figure confirmed by the NRSC's citations -- are not taken out of the current Medicare budget and are not actual cuts. Nowhere in the bill are benefits actually eliminated, experts said.

The $500 billion are reductions to future spending. The health care law attempts to slow the projected growth in Medicare spending by that amount over 10 years.

Medicare spending will still increase. The Congressional Budget Office estimated it will reach $929 billion in 2020, up from $499 billion in actual spending in 2009....

The NRSC’s claim cites a real figure -- $500 billion -- that is part of the health reform debate. But it incorrectly describes it as $500 billion in Medicare cuts, rather than as decreases in the rate of growth of future spending.
Sorry, this is just wrong. Indeed, it's ridiculous, and nobody should listen to Politifact on this topic.
Chait argues that for a program like Medicare, where the costs are expected to dramatically spike, it is ridiculous not to allow some truth to equating a flat cap with a cut.  Chait likewise argues that cutting Medicare Advantage clearly removes the Medicare Advantage benefit (a subsidy).

The only part of the TNR criticism that I don't quite get is Chait's suggestion that this error accords with a PolitiFact bias that favors cutting entitlement programs.

Why then should PolitiFact object to calling the elimination of the Medicare Advantage subsidy a cut?  Does Chait suppose that ObamaCare represents an attempt to cut entitlement programs?  On that point his argument seems strained.  The rest of it appears pretty solid.

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