September 25, 2011 Politics Both Sides Could Use A Reality Check I seem to see a pattern developing here. Why I think it’s my job to call pundits and politicians on their statements of “facts” I do not know. Maybe because I do not believe either side always tells the truth precisely. Words are nuanced to sound strong but not mean exactly what is said. Truth be known, the GOP can be called down for the most muddling middle-speak that confuses and gives people false impressions. Sound bites and rhetoric abound with OpEd pundits and news analysts. The masses seem to buy this jibberjabber, so why change? Because for the large group of Independent voters, your words will be checked, and your arguments will be invalidated by truths that some American voters will bother to care deeply about. Another reason? Because when you do have sound policies they are nullified by the falsehoods. But the Left is not entirely innocent of this game either. In Cal Thomas’ OpEd “President Obama’s folly continues” he calls Obama on his claim to have signed within a month of taking office “the biggest middle-class tax cut in history.” Thomas has a field day with Obama’s statement, citing falling approval numbers and comparing him to “a lost man who refuses to ask for directions…because he has never worked in the real world with people who create real jobs.” He quotes Washington Post’s Fact Checker columnist Glenn Kessler, calling Obama’s claim “ridiculous.”1 Come on, Mr. Obama! You know better! Say what you mean! You gave pundits a sound bite that lessened the effects of that middle class tax cut. It was not the largest in history, John F. Kennedy takes the prize for that one. When questioned, the White House responded that Obama wasn’t talking about dollars at all. He was referring to the fact that this tax cut was enjoyed by a broader section of the population. In fact, 95% of working families received some kind of tax cut under the Making Work Pay provision in his stimulus bill. In other words, other than people making more than $190,000 per year, every working family received as much as $800 in tax cuts. Facts cleared up. Whew! That wasn’t so hard, now was it? Wait, doggone it, Cal Thomas doesn’t stop there. He then says that Obama speaks mostly of redistributing wealth, not creating wealth. Excuse me? Is he trying to infer the old Socialist bait and switch? Asking those who make more than $1,000,000 to pay their fair share of taxes is not redistributing wealth. It is fairness pure and simple. Thomas says Obama wants us to hate the wealth creators, rather than follow their example. Really? REALLY? Does he honestly believe an honorable fellow like Obama wants us to hate anybody? Is that really what he believes Obama is doing or is that what he wants people to think about Obama? Shame shame. That is hate speak at its worst. He says businesses are afraid of Obamacare. Well, if he calls it what it is and that is the Health Care Law, he has a point. People are uncertain about what their costs will be and justifiably so, and this uncertainty does affect our economy. Careful, though, with monikers. Once the kinks are ironed out and people appreciate the benefits of the law, Mr. Thomas might just regret giving Obama the credit. After all, in spite of what Mr. Thomas claims in his OpEd, Medicare and Medicaid are not messes. In fact, they are quite successful, financially largely due to the fact that “Medicare’s cost effectiveness arises from the fact that it does not need to expend funds on marketing and sales-functions that are obligatory for the success of competitive, private-sector health plans.”2 In addition, people love it. Yes, people all around the country love their Medicare. According to the Huffington Post, “A recent Commonwealth Fund survey found that “elderly Medicare beneficiaries reported greater overall satisfaction with their health coverage.” Medicare is so popular that most Americans support expanding its coverage to Americans aged 55 to 64. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, “over half of Americans (53 percent) ‘strongly’ support such a proposal and an additional 26 percent say they support it somewhat, totaling 79 percent backing.” Similarly, a Health and Human Services Department-commissioned study released in June found that “56 percent of enrollees in traditional fee-for-service Medicare give Medicare a rating of 9 or 10 on a 0-10 scale,” while “only 40 percent of Americans enrolled in private health insurance gave their plans a 9 or 10 rating.” “Leaders of the Commonwealth Fund wrote in May that, “compared to people with private insurance, Medicare enrollees have greater access to care [and] fewer problems with medical bills.” The report added that this finding is significant when considering that those Americans on Medicare represent a demographic that is more likely to be in poor health and to have lower incomes. Prior to Medicare, “about one-half of America’s seniors did not have hospital insurance,” more than 25 percent “were estimated to go without medical care due to cost concerns,” and one in three were living in poverty. Today, nearly all seniors have access to affordable health care and only about 14 percent of seniors are below the poverty line.”3 The last paragraphs of Thomas’ OpEd pushed the inferences beyond the breaking point. He laments about parents putting their children in daycare and grown children “dumping their elderly parents in nursing homes.” He says that we believe it’s the government’s responsibility because too many think we are constitutionally mandated to be free of “burdens.” Is he really trying to tell us that Obama and his BIG GOVERNMENT are pushing people to use quality care for their children and parents because they are entitled? Can’t it be because they pretty much need two incomes to support their households? Lastly, he says that President Obama does not understand that we must expect less from government and more from ourselves. He reasons that Obama’s misunderstanding lies with the fact that “…others have largely aided him throughout his life and unremarkable pre-presidential career. He has great form, but little substance, except his failed ideology. The tragedy is that he has learned nothing from failure.” Now that’s just insulting. Reducing the President of the United States down to a man with no substance and pretty much a failure. Wow. Just how does he rate our last president? Would he call George Bush a success? Give the man more than three years to fix what it took eight to destroy. 1http://www.calthomas.com/index.php?news=3358 2http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/about/Crossroads/06_13_03.html for more information. 3http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-progress-report/44-years-of-medicare-succ_b_247834.html for more information.