WSJ: Obama's Medicare Contradictions are a Marx Brothers Routine

UPDATE at end of post: song from Marx Brothers "Duck Soup" eerily validates the Journal's position.

While Obama-loving media gushed over the President's healthcare address Wednesday -- and, of course, chastised Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC.) for his untimely outburst -- an inconvenient truth went largely ignored: the current White House resident was indeed playing fast and loose with the facts.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal's editorial board examined some of Obama's statements pertaining to Medicare, and found that his contradictions were so egregious they came across like an old Marx Brothers routine.

Although the Journal stopped short of calling the President a liar, they did conclude "his claims bear little relation to anything true":

Mr. Obama began by depicting a crisis in the entitlement state, noting that "our health-care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers," especially Medicare. Unless we find a way to cauterize this fiscal hemorrhage, "we will eventually be spending more on Medicare than every other government program combined. Put simply, our health-care program is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close."

On this score he's right. Medicare's unfunded liability—the gap between revenues and promised benefits—is currently some $37 trillion over the next 75 years. Yet the President uses this insolvency as an argument to justify the creation of another health-care entitlement, this time for most everyone under age 65. It's like a variation on the old Marx Brothers routine: "The soup is terrible and the portions are too small."

Hehehe. As for Obama's assertion seniors shouldn't listen to claims that Medicare benefits will have to be cut:

[E]xcept, that is, for the 24% of senior beneficiaries who are enrolled in the Medicare Advantage program, which Democrats want to slash by $177 billion or more because it is run by private companies. Mr. Obama called that money "unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies—subsidies that do everything to pad their profits but don't improve the care of seniors."

In fact, Advantage does provide better care, which is one reason that enrollment has doubled since 2003. It's true that the program could be better designed, with more competitive bidding and quality bonuses. But Advantage's private insurers today provide the kind of care that Mr. Obama said he would mandate that private insurers provide for the nonelderly—"to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventative care."

Advantage plans have excelled at filling in the gaps of the a la carte medicine of traditional Medicare, contracting with doctors and hospitals to coordinate care and improve quality and covering items such as vision, hearing and management of chronic illness. If seniors in Advantage lose this coverage because of the 14% or 15% budget cut that Mr. Obama favors, well, that's "waste and abuse."

Sounds like a cut in Medicare benefits, doesn't it? 

But Mr. Obama told seniors not to pay attention to "those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut, especially since some of the folks who are spreading these tall tales have fought against Medicare in the past and just this year supported a budget that would essentially have turned Medicare into a privatized voucher program." [...]

Mr. Obama also called for "civility" in debate even as he calls the arguments of his critics "lies." So in the spirit of civility, we won't accuse the President of lying about Medicare. We'll just say his claims bear little relation to anything true.

Someone cue Rep. Wilson.

*****Update: For some more comic relief, as well as some rather prophetic lyrics from 76 years ago (h/t NBer mattm)...

"The last guy nearly ruined this place,

He didn't know what to do with it.

If you think this country's bad off now,

just wait til I get through with it.

The country's taxes must be fixed,

and I know what to do with it.

If you think you're paying too much now

just wait til I get through with it."

- Rufus T. Firefly

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.