Trump's Divisive, Deceitful Midterm Message

Yesterday, USA Today published an OpEd that someone wrote for Señor Trumpanzee: Democrats Medicare for All plan will demolish promises to seniors. It's an absurd and misleading way to look at Medicare For All... and it's exactly what Republican candidates are saying about it from coast to coast. It's no different from the hysteria Republicans raised when Democrats began the process of passing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid-- and every other piece of progressive legislation of the last century. In fact not ONE Republican in the House voted for FDR's Social Security bill-- and the only Republican senator to support it, George Norris (NE) soon left the party and was re-elected as an Independent with Democratic Party support! The Republican Party's response to cure the Depression that their agenda had plunged the country into, was to oppose banking reform, oppose work relief programs, oppose breaking up the monopolies, oppose the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, oppose unemployment insurance for workers, oppose everything that went on to make the U.S. a successful middle class country.

Mike Lux wrote about this in his fantastic book, The Progressive Revolution-- How The Best In America Came To Be, almost a decade ago:

If you look at our country’s long history, from the days of the first stirrings of our revolutionary impulses against Britain to today, progressive leaders and progressive movements have moved this country forward in the face of bitter-- and frequently violent-- opposition from reactionaries and defenders of the status quo. Consider the major advances in American history:
The American Revolution
The Bill of Rights and the forging of a democracy
Universal white male suffrage
Public education
The emancipation of the slaves
The national park system
Food safety
The breakup of monopolies
The Homestead Act
Land grant universities
Rural electrification
Women’s suffrage
The abolition of child labor
The eight hour workday
The minimum wage
Social Security
Civil rights for minorities and women
Voting rights for minorities and the poor
Cleaning up our air, our water, and toxic dump sites
Consumer product safety
Medicare and Medicaid

Every single one of those reforms, which are literally the reforms that made this country what it is today, was accomplished by the progressive movement standing up to the fierce opposition of conservative reactionaries who were trying to preserve their own power. American history is one long argument between progressivism and conservatism.

The striking thing about this long debate is how much the arguments that have occurred are repetitive over time, in terms of their rhetoric, constituencies, philosophy, and the values they represent. From generation to generation, the conservatives who oppose reform and progress have used the same kinds of arguments over and over again. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. described the division as one between “public purpose and private interest.”

The Conservative Argument

Successful businessmen and their allies make America great, and we should not undermine their authority or cost them money because that will mean bad things for the economy and all of us. Their freedom to run things as they like benefits everyone in the long run. And they should be the ones who control the government as well, because they know how the world works, and we can trust them to protect out national interests because of their knowledge and wisdom. An excess of democracy is a dangerous thing.

We must adhere to tradition because once we tamper with tradition, society goes to hell. It’s a scary world out there, and the people who have always run things can protect us, but only if we stay with our traditions and keep things the way they have always been. People who are different from us create problems, and we don’t want our traditions or the carefully built structure of our society undermined.

If people are poor, it’s probably their own fault because they are too lazy to work, didn’t study in school, and are generally bad people. Society shouldn’t spend any money on helping people who can’t help themselves, and we can’t afford it anyway. Ultimately, each of us is responsible for ourselves in the world, and we shouldn’t be relying on government or anybody else to make it.

We should fear change and be wary of hope because when things change, we just don’t know what the unintended consequences will be.

The Progressive Argument

We are all created equal and deserve both equal rights under the law and equal oppor-tunities to make good lives for ourselves and families. That means that the laws should not be formulated to favor one race of people or to help the wealthy over the poor. And it means that we all should have a good education, enough food to eat, adequate health care if we get sick, and a decent place to live.

Our society works well only when it has a sense of community, an understanding that we are all interdependent on one another, that we are all diminished if any one of us is suffering, and that we look out for those who can’t take care of themselves.

America is a democracy that should be a government of, by, and for the people. We don’t trust elites to look out for the rest of us, and we want everyone to have a say in how the government and the economy are run.

Fear And Hope

The arguments by conservatives all too frequently invoke fear-- of change, of one another, of foreigners and foreign enemies, or of certain people. They proclaim a loud and fervent patriotism and a love of traditional values, quite often quoting the Bible to justify their point of view, while ignoring those patriots and Bible quotes that don’t fit their agenda.

Progressives, on the other hand, have called for hope, rather than fear, and for changing things for the better, rather than just leaving things the way they have always been. We have been for more power for regular folks and less power for elites. And we have been for a stronger sense of community, rather than the sense that each of us is on his or her own.

The central theme of this book is to show how these political arguments have been repeated over time and time again since the American Revolution, how the same alternative visions of America keep being argued over and over, and how when progressives have won the day politically, the country has moved forward.

The good news is that a more progressive vision of what America can aspire to has prevailed enough times over the years to make us a far better country. While it is certainly true that the United States is more conservative by many measures than the industrialized countries in Europe, and that progress has been uneven and painfully slow, we are also the country that invented the modern notions of democracy and equality, and that legacy has echoed down through the generations and inspired new movements to make their claims on the American dream.

...We also know that the progressive arguments and movements have prevailed again and again and have created democracy where progress is always possible. Movement leaders such as Tom Paine, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, John L. Lewis, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Rachel Carson have always been ahead of the politicians and have pushed our country to become better. Our history is full of progressive leaders fighting the good fight, and winning much of the time, to create a better nation. The battle between conservatism and progress will continue to be fought as long as there is a United States of America.

Sound familiar? It should. Today Trump is the spokesperson for the reactionary pushback and his lackey's USA Today is demonstrative of just what Lux warned about in 2009. Although not even Lux could have guessed that anyone would be so blatant in their disinformation and propaganda the way Trump is-- unlike any western public figure since Joseph Goebbels.

Dishonestly called “Medicare for All,” the Democratic proposal would establish a government-run, single-payer health care system that eliminates all private and employer-based health care plans and would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years.

As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise, and we are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.

I also made a solemn promise to our great seniors to protect Medicare. That is why I am fighting so hard against the Democrats' plan that would eviscerate Medicare. Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare. Likewise, Democrats would gut Medicare with their planned government takeover of American health care.

The Democrats' plan means that after a life of hard work and sacrifice, seniors would no longer be able to depend on the benefits they were promised. By eliminating Medicare as a program for seniors, and outlawing the ability of Americans to enroll in private and employer-based plans, the Democratic plan would inevitably lead to the massive rationing of health care. Doctors and hospitals would be put out of business. Seniors would lose access to their favorite doctors. There would be long wait lines for appointments and procedures. Previously covered care would effectively be denied.

In practice, the Democratic Party’s so-called Medicare for All would really be Medicare for None. Under the Democrats' plan, today’s Medicare would be forced to die.

The Democrats' plan also would mean the end of choice for seniors over their own health care decisions. Instead, Democrats would give total power and control over seniors’ health care decisions to the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

The first thing the Democratic plan will do to end choice for seniors is eliminate Medicare Advantage plans for about 20 million seniors as well as eliminate other private health plans that seniors currently use to supplement their Medicare coverage.

Next, the Democrats would eliminate every American’s private and employer-based health plan. It is right there in their proposed legislation: Democrats outlaw private health plans that offer the same benefits as the government plan.

Americans might think that such an extreme, anti-senior, anti-choice and anti-consumer proposal for government-run health care would find little support among Democrats in Congress.

Unfortunately, they would be wrong: 123 Democrats in the House of Representatives-- 64 percent of House Democrats-- as well as 15 Democrats in the Senate have already formally co-sponsored this legislation. Democratic nominees for governor in Florida, California and Maryland are all campaigning in support of it, as are many Democratic congressional candidates.

Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal, founder and co-chair of the Medicare For All Congressional Caucus, issued a powerful and straight-forward statement after Trump's disgraceful OpEd, pointing out that it is "littered with falsehoods and misleading statements. He lied to the American people countless times on his Presidential campaign, he continued to do so while in office and now he’s lying in this Op-Ed. He broke his promise to the American people by continuously attempting to usher in a health care plan that would have rolled back the progress of the Affordable Care Act and left millions without the coverage they need. Donald Trump simply can’t be trusted to protect health care for the American people-- let alone talk about it accurately and honestly. The fact of the matter is that Medicare For All works and is popular. It promises to streamline our fragmented health care system to lower costs for drugs, procedures, and services. No one should be one health care crisis from bankruptcy. No one should be worried about obtaining lifesaving medicine due to cost or access. This caucus is committed to not only making sure that every American across the country has quality, affordable health care but also holding the President accountable for making meaningful improvements to our healthcare system instead of continuing to promote policies that take healthcare away from people."

PolitiFact took a quick look at all the lies in Trump's OpEd. Here are 8 of Trump's biggest lies in the OpEd. They actually found around a dozen.

Trump: Medicare for All "would establish a government-run, single-payer health care system that eliminates all private and employer-based health care plans and would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years."

Trump is citing a study by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University of a health care plan proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The study predicted a $32.6 trillion rise in federal spending over a 10-year period ending in 2031. The same study also forecast, however, that total health care spending would fall by about $2 trillion.

...Trump: Medicare for All would "take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives."

This is a "horrible mischaracterization of the proposal," said Linda Blumberg of the Urban Institute. Medicare for All would actually give an expanded version of traditional Medicare to everyone, with broader coverage-- including items such as dental and vision care-- while eliminating virtually all out of pocket costs, she said.

"I find it impossible to imagine that the approach could lead to everyone losing coverage," Blumberg said. "A theoretical failure would be a political inability to raise sufficient revenue to pay for these very generous benefits. That could theoretically lead to reductions in benefits from the proposal’s more expansive level, but even that would be very likely to be more generous that current Medicare benefits and cost-sharing."

Here’s a reason seniors could actually benefit: Currently, Medicare payment rates tend to be lower than payment levels on commercial plans, giving providers an incentive to accept a new commercial patient rather than a new Medicare patient. "From that perspective, equalizing payment levels for everyone could benefit seniors," said Christine Eibner, a health policy analyst with RAND Corp.

Trump: "We are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down."

Trump references an article about the cost of "benchmark" plans under the Affordable Care Act falling 2 percent in 2019. But it’s worth noting that the decline occurred after ACA premiums rose significantly in 2018 due to uncertainty about what the Trump administration would do with the law.

In addition, ACA premiums are a minority of all private health insurance premiums. In its annual survey of health insurance benefits, Kaiser reported earlier this month that for employer-sponsored health insurance, the average premium for a solo policyholder increased 3 percent over the past year, while the average family premium increased by 5 percent. That exceeded the growth in employee wages and overall inflation.

Trump: "The Democrats' plan that would eviscerate Medicare."

Trump’s link goes to a New York Times article that says the opposite.

"Coverage for these people would become more generous because the Sanders bill would expand to cover dental, vision and hearing aids, which are not covered under current law," the article said. "The bill would also get rid of nearly all cost-sharing requirements in the program. Beneficiaries could go to the doctor or hospital without having to pay any money out of their pocket. The program would require co-payments for certain prescription drugs."

Trump: "Seniors would lose access to their favorite doctors."

Trump "ignores that under Medicare for All, there would be no provider networks, so everyone would have access to whatever physician or hospital they choose," Blumberg, of the Urban Institute, said.

Trump: "Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare."

The Affordable Care Act reduced payment rates and the rate of increase in Medicare payments to providers by about $800 billion over 10 years. It also levied a tax on families making over $250,000 to help finance Medicare. It imposed a tax on net investment income for those making over $200,000 and raised other taxes.

In all, the law had about $630 billion in additional revenues over 10 years.

In addition, Obamacare made Medicare better for many by adding some prevention services and reducing prescription drug costs for those caught in what was called the "doughnut hole."

Trump: One effect of Medicare for All would be "outlawing the ability of Americans to enroll in private and employer-based plans."

Private plans would be going away, because everyone who currently has them would get Medicare coverage instead. There wouldn’t be a need for Medigap plans, which are private plans that currently pay for items that Medicare doesn’t cover.

Trump: "The Democratic plan would inevitably lead to the massive rationing of health care."

Both the House and Senate Medicare for All bills are short on details for the transition to a new health insurance system. The Senate proposal lays out a four-year period during which a public insurance plan would be offered to the general public and current Medicare users would see expanded benefits and a cap on out-of-pocket costs.

Two other factors are worth keeping in mind. First, there’s ample evidence that Americans pay more for the same services than in other countries, and while every health care system struggles, those aren’t in collapse. Second, there’s evidence of overtreatment in America. Estimates say between 20 to 30 percent of care is unnecessary and may leave patients worse off.

"It’s possible that some providers would reduce their supply of services under a single-payer plan, particularly if payment rates were below what they are currently receiving," said Christine Eibner of RAND Corp. "But it’s far from clear that such supply reductions would be widespread."

Goal ThermometerWe have an ActBlue page dedicated to candidates who want to sign on to Medicare for all legislation when they get to Congress in January. If you want to see the list of candidate-- or, hopefully, contribute to their campaigns, just click on the ActBlue thermometer on the right.

Mike Siegel is running for a Texas seat occupied by an extremist who has repeatedly voted to destroy Medicare, multimillionaire Michael McCaul. McCaul, one of the wealthiest members of Congress-- he married into a rich family-- doesn't believe in the safety net and doesn't believe in society providing for the less fortunate. Siegel is very different. "Medicare-for-All," he told us yesterday, "will guarantee healthcare for every American, and will have positive impacts on every aspect of our society. By having universal healthcare, we will save lives. We will reduce emergency room visits by providing preventative care. We will reduce the cost of prescription medicine. We will encourage innovation, because Americans will not have to cling to undesirable jobs just to receive healthcare benefits. And we will dramatically improve the quality of life in rural areas, where hospitals are currently closing because of Republican governors who refused Medicaid expansion. If anyone wants private healthcare after we implement Medicare for All, nothing will stop them. But by having Medicare for All, we will ensure that every American has the basic support they need to survive and thrive."

If there was one issue that got Randy Bryce to jump into the "impossible" race to defeat Paul Ryan, it was the issue of healthcare. It's what he talks about with Wisconsin voters constantly. This morning I asked him about Trump's OpEd. He reminded me that "The Koch brothers paid for a study that says we will save two trillion a year with Medicare-for-All based on current spending. Our health care costs more than anyplace else but we still have people spreading out their insulin because they can't afford the prescribed dosage. Higher premiums arrive annually to healthy people in order to cover the expense of those who don't have coverage. Every other industrialized nation has it. Why don't we? Aren't we worthy to be healthy? What part of providing for the general welfare of our citizens has excluded the ability to see a doctor? It's time to stop the lies. There is more than enough to go around (especially if some people would stop giving tax breaks to money hoarders).

Bryce's feisty campaign manager, David Keith would like nothing more than to hear Trump/Ryan sock puppet Brian Steil, a corporate lawyer, echo the anti-healthcare message. "The louder Trump is on this issue, the angrier Randy's base will be. Medicare for All makes sense to working people. Trump's OpEd was written for him by Beltway think tank staffers who have never stepped foot in a place like Southeast Wisconsin. You see, people here don't like the Beltway talking points. They like straight talk. Medicare for All is straight talk. That's why Bernie did so well here with both Democrats and Independents. We challenge President Trump to double down on this message. The people are not on his side on this one."

UPDATE: Ted Lieu

"Just like his misleading press conferences and toxic political rallies, Trump's USA Today OpEd is full of conspiracy theories and outright lies. Trump and Republicans in Congress have supported healthcare proposals that would weaken protections for those with preexisting conditions, eliminate health coverage for millions of Americans, and raise costs for those that are lucky enough to keep their coverage. They have purposefully sought to sabotage the Affordable Care Act at every turn, harming real people who need help.

The United States is the wealthiest country in the history of the world. There is no reason we should not be able to provide quality affordable health care for our people. When you hear Republicans fear-mongering about universal single-payer health care keep in mind that we already have a successful single-payer healthcare program in America. It's called Medicare. Unfortunately it is only for people over 65-- the oldest and costliest people to insure. There's no reason it wouldn't work for the rest of us."

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