Selective Fact Checking on Medicare

The self-proclaimed fact checkers went into overdrive last night following Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.  Words like false, shortcut and mislead were splashed across headlines minutes after the speech concluded.  As Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse said earlier this week, the fact checkers often evaluate claims underpinned by their “own sets of thoughts and beliefs.”

He forgot to mention that fact checking also tends to be selective.

For whatever reason, the fact checkers have not weighed in on a report written by Harvard economics professor David Cutler.  The blatant misrepresentation of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on Medicare did not go unnoticed, though.  Writing for the National Review, The Heritage Foundation’s Rea Hederman explains:

…Dr. David Cutler and his co-authors assert that “CBO concludes that premium-support plans would achieve much of their federal savings from ‘increases in the premiums paid by beneficiaries, not from increases in the efficiency of health care delivery.’” This would be a strong negative finding indeed. But that is not, in fact, what CBO concluded. 

The quote is lifted from a paragraph in which the CBO outlines why opponents dislike premium-support reform. The full sentence, found on the first page reads, “Opponents also maintain that much of the federal savings from premium support would come from increases in the premiums paid by beneficiaries, not from increases in the efficiency of health care delivery.” In other words, Dr. Cutler — a foe of premium support — is presenting his viewpoint, but labeling it as a CBO conclusion.

Cutler’s logic leap is breathtaking and reeks of desperation, leading National Center for Policy Analysis’s John Goodman to ask, “Has David Cutler Lost It?” Perhaps we should be asking the same of the media’s self-anointed fact checkers.

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