If you follow me or pretty much anyone else on Twitter with an economic clue, we were immediately screaming “BULLSHIT!” to this response, as geeks like us were familiar with the annual report from the Medicare Board of Trustees which estimates the financial stats and viability of Medicare, and was last updated in June. Ryan especially would know about these stats when he made the claim, because he’s the first person addressed on the report (see page 3).
And Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler came out on Monday and took apart Ryan’s completely false statement about how the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was the reason Medicare has financial difficulties.
The Affordable Care Act actually strengthened the near-term outlook of the Part A trust fund. The law includes a 0.9 percent payroll tax that hits the wages and self-employment income of wealthier Americans — above $250,000 per couple or $200,000 for a single taxpayer. That was estimated to raise an additional $63 billion for the Part A trust fund between 2010 and 2019. The law also was estimated to cut expenses, including $162 billion in productivity adjustments to provider payments and $86 billion in reduced payments to Medicare Advantage plans.Let’s stop right there. Not only has Obamacare not made Medicare’s funding more shaky, it actually has made it last with full current benefits (aka “solvency”) until the last of the Baby Boomers are eligible for it. And even then, a minor tax raise or benefit modification can allow Medicare to stay on for much longer than 2029.
The net result was that the “insolvency” date was extended by 12 years. Before the law was passed, the trustees said in 2009, the fund was going to be depleted in 2017. “The short-range financial outlook for the HI [hospital insurance] trust fund is substantially more favorable than projected in last year’s annual report, primarily as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” the Medicare trustees said in their 2010 report, saying the fund would last until 2029….
Also, note that a big reason behind the better solvency is a small tax imposed on the rich. Since that “job-killing tax hike” started, the US has seen practically uninterrupted job growth, with more than 14 million jobs added since the end of 2010.
We continue with the Post’s fact-checking.
In the 2016 trustees report, the [Medicare Part A Trust] fund was estimated to be depleted in 2028, two years earlier than the 2015 report, primarily because the consumer price index, representing inflation, did not rise as much as anticipated, reducing income projections. (In the long run, however, lower inflation will also reduce Medicare expenditures.) But that’s unrelated to the Affordable Care Act.So in other words, Ryan and the rest of the DC Republicans repeal Obamacare, they need to find a place to raise taxes in order to keep Medicare solvent. Or they need to divert general tax funds and/or cut some other type of government spending. Seems like we should know what choice they are making, and who will be hurt as a result, eh?
In fact, Republicans have vowed to repeal Obamacare, which would in turn make the trust fund’s situation instantly worse unless lawmakers found a way to make up the payroll tax revenue and program savings embedded in the Affordable Care Act.
And while Ryan's and the GOP’s big talk might make sense to idiots in BubbleWorld, it doesn’t add up in the real one, and Kessler and the Post give Lyin’ Ryan the ultimate Four-pinnochio rating when it comes to this claim.
Medicare certainly faces financial stress as the baby-boom generation begins to retire in full force, but it’s important to get the facts straight. It’s bad enough that Ryan, like many politicians, uses imprecise rhetoric such as “broke”; that’s a Two-Pinocchio violation. But the House speaker really went off the rails when he said on national television that Obamacare is making the program go broke. That’s the exact opposite of what happened.Now maybe Ryan is just acting like the cynical piece of crap he is, and figuring that if Donald Trump can throw a bunch of shit against the wall and get enough dimwits to fall for it, why can’t he do the same to hand over Medicare to privateers and corporations? But if truth and independent facts have any place in this country anymore (and sure, that’s a big IF), they need to toss Lyin’ Ryan’s plans onto the fire. While we’re at it, can we pretty much have the media realize that as a rule, anything else that Lyin’ Ryan has to say about the federal budget and the economy is likely to be dead wrong, and laugh him off of the podium for the next 2 years?
And no Beltway media, it doesn’t matter how pretty Pau-LIE’s face may be, because that guy is throwing out some ugly, disgusting ideas, and sneaky methods in carrying out that agenda. Never forget that Ryan and other Congressional Republicans are fronting for some even worse people when it comes to discussing the future of both Medicare and Social Security, as noted in this always-great passage from Robert Greenwald's movie Koch Brothers Exposed.