Last week, USA Today published an opinion editorial column attributed to Donald Trump titled “Democrats ‘Medicare for All’ plan will demolish promises to seniors.”
Immediately, Washington Post fact-checkers got to work.
And what they found was nothing short of astounding.
It turns out virtually every sentence contained a lie.
Missing apostrophe in the title aside, to lie that effortlessly–even by Trump standards–we have to admit is pretty impressive. Trump probably set a record for mendacity.
Here’s what he claimed.
Trump begins by saying:
“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.”
That $32.6 trillion amount is true, but Trump omits that costs for individuals, state governments, and others would actually decrease under the Democrats’ Medicare-for-All plan, and total national health expenditures might not increase at all. In fact, they could potentially decrease. Universal coverage would save the country $2 trillion over ten years.
Trump goes on to claim:
“Throughout the year, we have seen Democrats across the country uniting around a new legislative proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-All plan Democrats have adopted calls for the federal government to pay Americans’ medical bills instead of individual health insurance companies. Other ways in which the plan calls for Medicare’s expansion is eliminating deductibles and including vision, dental, and hearing aids. Over four years, the Medicare eligibility age will gradually decrease until every American is covered.
This is hardly “ending” Medicare.
Trump also claimed:
“As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with preexisting 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.”
He did not keep that promise.
Instead, he supported Republican plans to weaken protections for individuals with preexisting health conditions. His administration also refused to defend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka “Obamacare,” against a lawsuit that would undermine protections. The Trump administration also no longer supports an ACA provision for people with preexisting conditions to purchase insurance. Moreover, premiums have continued to increase, albeit more slowly; however, without Trump’s meddling they would be even lower in some states.
“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.”
Since Trump signed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” at the end of last year, handing $1.5 trillion in permanent tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy like himself and his ilk, the government is less financially prepared to weather baby-boom generation retirements.
And speaking of seniors. Another lie:
“Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare.”
This wasn’t true in 2012 when the GOP first argued it and it isn’t any more so now.
The fact is the ACA strengthened the short-term Part A trust fund outlook, and it includes a 0.9 percent payroll tax on the self-employment and wealthier Americans—above $250,000 per couple or $200,000 for a single taxpayer. Between 2010 and 2019, that was supposed to raise an additional $63 billion for the Part A trust fund. The healthcare law was also estimated to cut expenses, including $162 billion in adjustments to provider payments, and $86 billion in reduced payments to Medicare Advantage plans. This extended the “insolvency” date 12 years.
The savings Trump gripes about mostly were gleaned from healthcare providers, not Medicare beneficiaries, who ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs because of the ACA.
On the same point, Trump added:
“Democrats will seek to slash budgets for seniors’ Medicare, Social Security and defense.”
Defense, yes. Absolutely. But how can Democrats be seeking to “slash” Medicare and Social Security while at the same time striving to expand them?
Democrats have always sought those programs’ expansion; they are not reversing course now, which leads to Trump’s lie:
“Republicans believe that a Medicare program that was created for seniors and paid for by seniors their entire lives should always be protected and preserved.”
Anyone paying attention to the Republican agenda knows this is risible.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) talks about retirees receiving “premium support” from the federal government, which is nothing more than a “healthcare savings account”–a set payment adjusted to inflation with which recipients are expected to select from a range of insurance companies’ plans offered through a Medicare exchange.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), however, has estimated that under this system, by 2030, the government would pay just 32 percent of the health care costs–less than half it pays now. Retirees would be on the hook for the remaining 68 percent.
Another, shall we say, “alternative fact:”
“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.”
While it may be true that change is rarely smooth and may come with some discomfort–even if for the better–this is nothing but Trump praying on people’s fears.
Look to other developed countries with single-payer systems managed more cheaply and efficiently than ours and we will see how successful it is.
Here’s another mendacious claim:
“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.”
It’s called Medicare, and it’s been successfully providing seniors 65 and older and the disabled single-payer healthcare since 1966.
Trump did not make his tirade all about healthcare, though. Just to scare Republican voters, he trotted out the centuries-old right-wing assault on Socialists.
“The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.”
No Democrat, Democratic Socialist, Liberal, or Progressive is holding Venezuela up as a paragon of Social Democracy. After years of dictatorship, Venezuela is collapsing. No one wants that here, nor has anyone suggested we explore Venezuela’s path.
Instead, let’s model America’s economy after flourishing social democracies like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Canada.
Trump took a stab at immigration too:
“Some Democrats’ absolute commitment to end enforcement of our immigration laws by abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That means millions more would cross our borders illegally and take advantage of health care paid for by American taxpayers.”
More fear mongering.
While it’s true some Democrats and Democratic candidates are calling to abolish ICE, it’s probably not going to happen. What is more likely is reforming ICE to rein in its zero-tolerance policy toward migrants and asylum seekers.
We shouldn’t be surprised Trump lies.
He campaigned on lies and has based his presidency on thousands of them.
But what Trump is doing is putting an official voice on the entire Republican agenda.
The lies Trump told to USA Today are the positions Republican candidates and incumbents are running on this campaign season.
Remember that as you travel to the polls on November 6.
Image credit: CNN.com