The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. —THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1788

Joe Conason says Republicans’ math is bad; look who’s talking

“If President Obama honestly wants to negotiate an agreement with Republicans before the year-end fiscal deadline,” writes liberal observer Joe Conason, then “he must be deeply frustrated.”

Why? Because Republicans are unable “to do simple arithmetic,” Conason advises. He then gives an illustration of their faulty math:

Consider their treatment of Medicare, the popular social insurance program for seniors that Republicans have always despised. They have just emerged from a long national campaign in which they repeatedly and falsely claimed to ‘protect’ Medicare from the president—whom they accused of wanting to slash $716 billion from the program—but now they complain that he won’t cut it enough. The Obama cuts were mythical, but the Boehner budget proposal includes at least $600 billion in Medicare and Medicaid reductions.

There is so much intellectually dishonet or just plain wrong about this paragraph that it would be easier to point out where Conason is right. That is the single claim that the GOP has “accused [the president] of wanting to slash $716 billion from” Medicare. The rest of it is balderdash, and especially his contention that Obama’s cuts are mythical. Even the left-leaning “fact-checking” site Politifact grudgingly acknowledges the Congressional Budget Office’s projections that Obamacare will cut Medicare spending to the tune of $716 billion over 10 years as a means of defraying costs of implementation of the health care law.

But where Conason’s ideas become especially muddy is when he claims that Republicans were formerly opposed to cutting Medicare but now complain that Obama won’t cut enough from the entitlement. No sane person from either side of the aisle has ever proposed that Medicare is sustainable in its current form and should not be touched. That includes Obama himself. In 2009, he said we must be serious about curtailing the key drivers of our debt, namely health entitlements and Social Security.

What has Republicans (aka the adults in the room) so exercised now is that almost immediately after the president spoke, seemingly in earnest, of the need to trim Medicare he passed another gigantic—not to mention still unpopular—health care law that would further drain the economy. Which part of this doesn’t Joe Conason understand?

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Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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