Thursday, February 06, 2014

Dana Milbank and the "Fact Free Zone"

I expected to enjoy Dana Milbank's article entitled "From Obamacare to the IRS scandal, Republicans are ignoring the facts" But Milbank decided that he should Ballance his observation that Republicans are indifferent to facts with the following paragraph.
Rubio’s fact-free approach to Obamacare is puzzling because plenty of damning things can be said about the health-care law that are perfectly accurate: It does little to curb entitlements, it disrupts insurance plans for millions, it leaves 31 million Americans without coverage and, as the CBO forecast, it would take the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers out of the workforce.
Yep that's showing em Dana. 1. "little" is a nice weasel word, but the ACA eliminated the huge Medicare advantage extra payments and massively cut the rate of growth of regular Medicare payments. It also made hospitals responsible for the costs of treating the infections people pick up there. I don't claim that the sudden complete utter change in US entitlement spending is mostly due to the ACA but the assertion "little" is based on completely ignoring those data which are inconvenient to the quest for Ballance, that is all of the relevant data. The disrupted insurance plans are of free riders whose care will be financed by others because the so called insurance won't pay for it. Also most of them will get much better insurance for a modest increase in premiums. Most of the rest will get much better insurance and pay less for it. The Republihype and MSM laziness was much more effective in this case than in the latest two, but it is bogus. The figure 31 million Americans is simply false. The figure includes over 9 million people who will not get insurance because they are undocumented aliens. I think these people should get insurance (and citizenship) but they are not "Americans" as the word is conventionally used (I mean most are Americans just not statunitensi). Notably Republicans can't complain about undocumented aliens not being covered, because they have been claiming that undocumented aliens will be covered. Also the assertion the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers out of the workforce is false for two reasons. The 2.3 million is the upper end of a range of estimates. To be accurate Milbank had to write "as many as" but he didn't. More importantly the word "workforce" is simply incorrect. The claim is false as written. Labor supply is forecast to decline by up to 2.3 million full time equivalents (that is by up to 4.6 billion hours) but much of that is forecast to be of the form of reduced hours worked. Part time workers are employed and therefore in the workforce. Milbank's claim is simply false. This is important, because the safety net as hammock argument is an argument that withdrawal from the work force is bad for the ex workers and a bad example for their kids. There is no reason to think that working part time has similarly bad social effects. Milbank's error is material. It is also undeniable. Now I guess the disrupting millions claim could be defended. The other three claims in Milbank's ballancing paragraph on other people "ignoring the facts" are definitely undisputibly falsehoods and must be corrected. Now I understand the problem. Milbank feels that he must ballance criticism of Republicans with criticism of the ACA. I'm sure that he gave almost exactly no thought to the paragraph full of errors. It was just something he had to type between the paragraphs he cares about and received about as much thought as the period and double hard return between other accurate paragraphs.

1 comment:

Larry Signor said...

Milbanks entire post is a fabrication or a distortion of the truth. The ACA was never intended to "curb entitlements". If making insurance less expensive and more ubiquitous is disrupting insurance plans, let's be more disruptive. As for the rest of his gibberish, he either didn't read the CBO report or did not understand it. My money is on laziness.

http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/can-someone-get-dana-milbank-to-read-the-washington-posts-fact-checker-column