More Information Comes Out On Republican Misinformation As Democrats Stand Up To Koch Brothers

The Affordable Care Act is bringing about considerable reductions in health care expenses for millions of Americans. Republicans opposing health care reform have tried to undermine support for the law with a series of false ads in which  they falsely claim people such as cancer patients have to pay more than in the past for health care coverage. Whenever these claims are actually examined, it has turned out that the claims are false. Considering the subsidies for coverage, the increased protections for those with medical problems, the elimination of limitations on coverage, and the caps on out of pocket expenses, it is generally not possible for anyone to really come out behind who had previously been purchasing coverage on the individual market. The only “losers” are those of us who don’t qualify for subsidies and are healthy enough to not have significant health care costs. Even the “losers” under the Affordable Care Act, who are affluent enough to pay the higher premiums for better coverage, will come out ahead if we develop major medical problems.

The case of Julie Boonstra was already covered when newspapers and fact checkers revealed that the ad, paid for by the Koch brothers, was spreading incorrect information. Previous reports revealed that her claims of paying more were untrue. As more information has become available on her policy, the facts show that she benefits even more than initially reported. The Detroit News has updated the facts on this case with this information:

A Dexter cancer patient featured in a conservative group’s TV ad campaign denouncing her new health care coverage as “unaffordable” will save more than $1,000 this year.

Julie Boonstra, 49, starred last month in an emotional television ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity that implied Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters’ vote for the Affordable Care Act made her medication so “unaffordable” she could die. Peters of Bloomfield Township is running for an open U.S. Senate seat against Republican Terri Lynn Land.

The Detroit News and fact checkers last month cast doubt on the accuracy of the TV ad. On Monday, Boonstra acknowledged which health plan she chose, offering the first evidence of cost savings..

Boonstra said Monday her new plan she dislikes is the Blue Cross Premier Gold health care plan, which caps patient responsibility for out-of-pocket costs at $5,100 a year, lower than the federal law’s maximum of $6,350 a year. It means the new plan will save her at least $1,200 compared with her former insurance plan she preferred that was ended under Obamacare’s coverage requirements.

Glenn Kessler reevaluated his report on this ad writing, “one cannot claim that a plan is ‘unaffordable’ when over the course of the year it will provide you with substantial savings. Thus we are changing the rating on this ad from Two Pinocchios to Three Pinocchios.”

Boonstra, and others claiming to be losers under Obamacare, might very well believe what they are saying, even if wrong:

When advised of the details of her Blues’ plan, Boonstra said the idea that it would be cheaper “can’t be true.”

“I personally do not believe that,” Boonstra said.

The Republicans are spending a tremendous amount of money spreading false misinformation about the Affordable Care Act, and an alarming number of people believe what they hear on Fox, right wing talk radio, and from other portions  of the right wing noise machine.  They have no idea that what they hear from right wing outlets is propaganda to promote a political agenda and is not actual news. Therefore we see pe0ple like Boonstra who are better off under the Affordable Care Act but do not look at the facts and do not believe this. Others have listened to “warnings” from the right wing and have not purchased coverage on the exchanges, and then complain about higher premiums because of not receiving the subsidies they would receive if they purchased coverage on the exchanges. Many have no idea that their old policies had limitations on how much would be covered while the new policies under the ACA have caps on what they would have to pay which usually greatly reduce what they will have to pay out of pocket compared to their previous policies.
Many people are harmed by the deliberate misinformation being spread by the right wing, including many who are now failing to sign up and take advantage of the benefits under the Affordable Care Act. Many of these dishonest ads are funded by the Koch brothers through Americans for Prosperity (a poorly named organization for one pursuing an agenda which would impoverish the middle class and turn the United States into a banana republic).
The New York Times has been reporting on how the Democrats are staring to stand up to the Koch brothers for their misinformation on health care and other actions to rig the system to benefit a small oligarchy. They summarized this in an op-ed today:

Democrats have for too long been passive in the face of the vast amounts of corporate money, most of it secret, that are being spent to evict them from office and dismantle their policies. By far the largest voice in many of this year’s political races, for example, has been that of the Koch brothers, who have spent tens of millions of dollars peddling phony stories about the impact of health care reform, all in order to put Republicans in control of the Senate after the November elections.

Now Democrats are starting to fight back, deciding they should at least try to counter the tycoons with some low-cost speech of their own. Democrats may never have the same resources at their disposal — no party should — but they can use their political pulpits to stand up for a few basic principles, including the importance of widespread health-insurance coverage, environmental protection and safety-net programs.

The leader of this effort has been Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, who has delivered a series of blistering attacks against the Kochs and their ads on the Senate floor over the last few weeks. In addition, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has set up a website, www.kochaddiction.com, to remind voters of just what the Kochs stand for, and why they raised $407 million in the 2012 election. And individual candidates are making sure voters know who is paying for the ad blitz.

“The billionaire Koch brothers,” says one of the people quoted in an ad released Monday by Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, who has been the object of one of their blatantly false television barrages. “They come into our town, fire a refinery, just running it into the ground, leaving a mess.” Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina reminds voters that the Kochs and their allies have pressed for high-end tax breaks that burden the middle class.

Mr. Reid’s comments have gone to the heart of the matter. In his most recent speech, he pointed out that the fundamental purpose of the Kochs’ spending is to rig the economic system for their benefit and for that of other oligarchs. They own an industrial network that ranks No. 14 on the list of the most toxic American air polluters, and got their money’s worth in 2010 by helping elect a Republican House majority that has resisted environmental regulation…

Cross posted at The Moderate Voice

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Nuclear Option Weakens The Republican Tyranny Of The Minority

Harry Reid and Senate Democrats struck a blow against the tyranny of the minority today by exercising the nuclear option. Republican influence in the Senate is out of proportion to the number of people they actually represent due to the small Republican states having the same number of Senators as much larger states, which generally are Democratic. The Republicans have further extended this advantage by abusing the filibuster, often blocking appointments and legislation with a minority vote. In the entire history of the United States, 168 presidential appointments have been blocked. Eighty-two were under Obama and eighty-six were under all other presidents. While in the past the filibuster was more likely to be reserved for cases where the minority party had a real objection, Republicans are often using the filibuster to block qualified appointees just because they were appointed by Barack Obama. Republicans still do not accept Obama’s election and subsequent reelection

The impact of this is somewhat limited as it applies to executive branch appointments and most judges but does not apply to Supreme Court nominees or legislation. Republicans, who are outraged by this extension of majority rule, threaten to extend this should they take back control of the Senate so they can appoint more Scalias and Clarence Thomases to the Supreme Court.  (Why do Republicans hate America so much?) Rand Paul even called Reid a big bully.

In order for the Republicans to take advantage of this and carry out their threats, they will need a Republican president as well as control of the Senate. At least in the short run, this doesn’t look likely. Demographic changes have made it difficult for Republicans to take the White House unless the party changed dramatically. The Republicans might manage to take control of the Senate in 2014 if all the close races go their way. In 2016, a presidential election year which already is more favorable to Democrats than an off-year election, the Democrats have to defend ten seats while the Republicans will have to defend twenty-four. While red state Democratic Senators are among those running in 2014, several blue state Republicans will be on the ballot in 2016. I’m sure Harry Reid considered the likelihood of continued Democratic control of the Senate when deciding to go ahead with the nuclear option.

 

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Mitt Romney Denies Having Had Sexual Relations With Those Tax Returns; Is Not A Crook

Mitt Romney says “Every year, I’ve paid at least 13 percent” but still refuses to release his tax returns to prove it. Considering that Mitt Romney has demonstrated that he is a pathological liar who at any moment will say what best serves his campaign regardless of the truth, it is difficult to take his word for this. His claim is reminiscent of Richard Nixon saying “I am not a crook” or Bill Clinton saying “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Romney continues to complain about Harry Reid’s claims that Romney paid no taxes for ten years. I don’t believe Reid either but at least this probably unfair attack differs quite a bit from the types of attacks which come from Republicans. The Swift Boat Liars didn’t stop when John Kerry released his military records (and I’ve seen a number of right wing blogs which deny the fact that he did so). Releasing the usual birth certificate didn’t shut up the Birthers, and some even persist with their absurd claims after the long form was released. While Harry Reid’s claims are unfair (assuming they are untrue), Romney could end this by simply doing what he should have done in the first place and release his tax returns.

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I Hope Harry Reid Knows What He Is Doing Or He Should Stop Acting Like A Republican

I sure hope Harry Reid knows what he is doing, or he might wind up helping Mitt Romney in the end. As Romney refuses to release his tax returns we cannot be certain whether the accusations are true, but Reids claims that a Bain investor told him that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years sounds rather fishy. Even a Bain investor actually did say that, how credible would this be. I’ve never seen a financial adviser show their personal tax returns to a client. If Mitt Romney won’t release his tax returns when he should, while running for president, whey would he have shown them to a client when their was no reason to?

The reactions of the McCain people, who did see many of his returns four years ago, also makes me doubt there would be anything as damaging as not paying taxes for ten years. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his rate was closer to zero than 15 percent in 2009.

Of course we cannot be certain about this unless Romney does release his tax returns. Perhaps Romney did brag about not paying taxes, and perhaps the McCain people are covering for him out of party unity.

Harry Reid is sticking to his accusations:

On Wednesday, Reid stuck to his story, and broadened it.

“I am not basing this on some figment of my imagination,” Reid said in a telephone call with Nevada reporters. “I have had a number of people tell me that.”

Asked to elaborate on his sources, Reid declined. “No, that’s the best you’re going to get from me.”

“I don’t think the burden should be on me,” Reid said. “The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes. Why didn’t he release his tax returns?”

A Romney spokesman said Reid’s charge was baseless and below the belt.

Burden of proof isn’t so one-sided here. Romney should release his tax returns, but that doesn’t free Reid of being obligated to back up his charges too.

There are possible up-sides to this. Reid is drawing even more attention to Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns. This might also force Romney to release his returns.

One possible down-side to this is that should Romney release his tax returns, whatever comes out might not be as bad as Reid is alleging, and the meia story could then change to Romney’s vindication. If it turns out that Romney is hiding something such as only paying around 5 percent for a couple of years, the story could then be that the charges of paying no taxes for ten years were outright false as opposed to how little taxes Romney paid.

Looking at the reactions to this around the blogosphere is amusing. Conservatives seem unanimous in condemning Reid for making false accusations, which is rather hypocritical considering that conservatives (including Romney) make false accusations about Democrats on a regular basis. Most conservatives can’t conceive of responding to liberals with anything other than a gross distortion of the facts. As Steve M. says, “welcome to our world, Mitt. Now you have a vague sense of how Democrats feel all the time.” Still, do we really want a Democratic leader acting like a Republican?

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Boehner Passes Bill Which Never Had A Chance

In perhaps one of the most brazen demonstrations of incompetence and lack of concern for one’s nation from a government leader we have ever seen, John Boehner has devoted the last few days to pass a bill which had zero chance of becoming law, as opposed to seriously working to prevent a crisis next week. Boehner got his bill passed and, as expected, the Senate voted it down. The Senate has also been searching for a deal which could pass:

Senate Democratic and Republican leaders are having intense discussions to come up with a bipartisan solution for raising the debt ceiling.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that he needs ideas from Republicans sometime Friday if Congress is to meet the Aug. 2 deadline.

A Senate GOP leadership aide said the two sides have until early Sunday morning to reach an agreement.

The two sides are discussing trigger mechanisms that could be used to build bipartisan support. Such triggers would force Congress to carry out another round of deficit reduction before the 2012 election.

At the moment, it is difficult to see them reaching an agreement, but perhaps Republicans will be more willing to compromise when we get down to the last minute. The failure of Boehner’s bill might at least serve the purpose of allowing them to argue that they had no choice but to accept a compromise Senate bill to prevent economic catastrophe.  On the one hand, one would think that country club Republicans aren’t anxious to see their investments wiped out.  On the other hand, the Tea Party members who have been pressuring Boehner don’t show any signs of ever facing reality.

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Senate Democrats Will Not Accept A “Mini” Ryan Plan on Medicare

The Note reports that not only will Senate Democrats not support the Ryan plan non Medicare, they also will not accept a “mini”Ryan plan:

The Senate Democratic leadership came out today and reaffirmed that Medicare cuts should not be on the table during the debt ceiling discussions.

“Seniors can’t afford it,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said following today’s policy luncheons, “The vast majority of the American people, including most Republicans, do not support changing Medicare as we know it, that piece of legislation that came from the House.”

“That” piece of legislation would be the Paul Ryan plan, “The Path to Prosperity” which cuts the budget deficit by roughly $5 trillion over the next 10 years.

The Ryan plan completely overturns the new health care law and proposes a major reform to Medicaid and Medicare. Medicaid would switch to a block grant system, meaning the federal government would allocate money to states, giving them more flexibility in how they tailor their programs for the poor. Currently, the federal government matches every dollar that states spend on Medicaid and the formula varies from state to state

Today, Senator Schumer, D-NY., said it is not acceptable to Democrats to even accept a “mini” Ryan plan.

So the plan from now on is that, whenever Republicans propose either cuts to Medicare or any plan to privatize Medicare, we call it a “mini” Ryan plan. If we are lucky, Senate Democrats will then kill the plan. If only this plan was operational before George Bush proposed his Medicare plan.

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America Returns Those Who Destroyed The Economy To Power (Russian Communists Envious)

The midterm elections are turning out as most expected. The Republicans have won control of the House, while the Democrats will probably retain control of the Senate. Republicans have also had major gains in many states, giving them an advantage in redistricting.

Really, America, wouldn’t it make more sense to vote for the party which kept the United States out of another depression as opposed to bringing back the people responsible for the economic collapse?  What this election really proves is that dishonest talking points and outright lies will win over rational thought about our problems.

As it is getting late, for now I’ll primarily repost some of my items from Twitter and Facebook and will have more on the election later.

I voted for the party which believes in science and rule of law, not the party which is trying to replace both with theocracy.

Christine O’Donnell loses. No happy ending for her–which goes along with her crusade. (One of the retweets changed the word after the dash to “witch.”)

At least if the GOP only takes over the House they’ll still fall short of being able to achieve their goal of replacing the Bill of Rights with the Ten Commandments. Except they’d keep the Second Amendment (and ignore all the confusing stuff about militias and just assume it means an individual right).

The worst news of the night beyond the flat-earthers taking control of the House is the defeat of Russ Feingold in the Wisconsin Senate race. With his strong record on civil liberties, Feingold was endorsed by recent Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr. How is defeating Feingold a step towards reducing government?

In his acceptance speech Rand Paul spoke of taking our country back. Exactly how many centuries does he mean?

Republicans Retake House. Seeing how the people responsible for screwing up a country can be returned to power, former Communists in Russia are now plotting their return.

People of color will now be in top positions in both the White House and the House of Representatives. First Barack Obama in the White House, and now John Boehner will be the nation’s first orange Speaker.

Is the nation ready for an orange Speaker of the House? More importantly, is the nation ready for a bat-shit crazy Speaker?

There is going to be a tendency for some on the left to respond to the election results by attacking Obama. Some hardcore Clintonistas have already started. This is a mistake. The only thing standing between between us and the insane hordes might be Barack Obama’s veto pen.

The big difference: Previously the Democrats would pass bills in the House but they would die in the Senate due to the need for sixty votes. Now we won’t have liberal legislation pass either House. Instead we will have all sort of lunacy proposed–leading to the GOP getting thrown out in two years.

Just wait until the GOP House passes bills to privatize Social Security and Medicare, with Rand Paul proposing the same in the Senate.

Damn, I now live in a red state. Does that mean I have to unlearn all that science and other elitist book learnin?

If there is a God he sure got my prayers wrong. I wanted the team from Ann Arbor to win in football and the candidate from Lansing to beat the candidate from Ann Arbor in the gubernatorial race. Instead I got the reverse.

Losses by Christine O’Donnell and Sharon Angle represent a poor night for Sarah Palin. Other candidates Palin supported are also going down, possibly including in Alaska.

And a few comments from others:

Often on Election Day we’re forced to choose between a liar and an idiot. Thx to the Tea Party, we can vote for both. –Andy Borowitz

No matter what happens, it’s a bad night for Tea Party voters because it involves so much math. –Andy Borowitz

‎”Politico was wrong, Huffington Post was wrong, hell, all the pundits were wrong. Harry Reid isn’t just Dracula, he isn’t just Lazarus, he’s our Leader and our whole caucus is thrilled that he’s unbreakable and unbeatable.” –John Kerry on the reelection of Harry Reid

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Planned Islamic Community Center Turns Politicians Of Both Parties Into Babbling Idiots

The planned Islamic Community Center planned near ground zero has resulted in a lot of nonsense. Most of it has come from the right, who mischaracterized it as a Ground Zero Mosque, with the right wingers showing no respect for either freedom of religion or property rights. Some of the nonsense also came from the Democrats. I really don’t know what Nancy Pelosi is talking about here, as she speaks of looking into “who is funding the attacks against the construction of the center.”  Her clarification does not make much more sense. (Of course this is not the first time I’ve questioned if Nancy Pelosi was making sense).

What is obviously going on here (along with Harry Reid trying to sound like a conservative on this in the midst of a tough election campaign) is that the Democrats still have absolutely no idea how to counter the the hateful and ignorant rhetoric from the far right. Instead they look at the polls and find that a majority of Americans support the conservative position in this and fear saying anything meaningful.

If  Islamic terrorists who had flown planes into the World Trade Building had wanted to build a mosque near ground zero I would understand the opposition. Of course those who desire to build the Community Center had no more connection to 9/11 than Saddam Hussein did.

As long as the Democrats fail to provide leadership and manage to speak out intelligibly on such issues a majority of people will listen to the right wing position. Democrats need to counter Republican rhetoric and misinformation with intelligent and factual responses. They won’t win by chickening out and hoping that Rachel Maddow or liberal bloggers will manage to bring some sense to the debates.

Update: Not Howard Dean too.

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The Worst People In American History–To Conservatives

Right Wing News conducted a survey of conservative  bloggers to find out who they thought were the worst twenty-five people in U.S. history. John Wilkes  Booth beat out Nancy Pelosi, but only by one vote. Jimmy Carter leads, followed by Barack Obama. Both are well ahead of Timothy McVeigh, who also trails Ted Kennedy, FDR, and LBJ.  The results:

23) Saul Alinsky (7)
23) Bill Clinton (7)
23) Hillary Clinton (7)
19) Michael Moore (7)
19) George Soros (8)
19) Alger Hiss (8)
19) Al Sharpton (8)
13) Al Gore (9)
13) Noam Chomsky (9)
13) Richard Nixon (9)
13) Jane Fonda (9)
13) Harry Reid (9)
13) Nancy Pelosi (9)
11) John Wilkes Booth (10)
11) Margaret Sanger (10)
9) Aldrich Ames (11)
9) Timothy McVeigh (11)
7) Ted Kennedy (14)
7) Lyndon Johnson (14)
5) Benedict Arnold (17)
5) Woodrow Wilson (17)
4) The Rosenbergs (19)
3) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (21)
2) Barack Obama (23)
1) Jimmy Carter (25)

It also appears that, in their view, we are living in really bad times considering how many of the worst people in American history are now living or were around in the not very distant past.

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Sharon Angle’s Religious War

Sharon Angle has previously called “Second Amendment remedies” to pursue the Tea Party platform, and possibly to take out Harry Reid. Another sign of her theocratic views has been found in an interview on Christian talk radio:

“And these programs that you mentioned — that Obama has going with Reid and Pelosi pushing them forward — are all entitlement programs built to make government our God. And that’s really what’s happening in this country is a violation of the First Commandment. We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We’re supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government.”

This mindset will further reinforce to some that religion infuses everything Angle believes but also might explain her hostility to government programs, believing essentially they are produced by a false God. And she frames the race as one she has been praying over for some time, a war of ideologies and faith: “And I knew that all along when I started praying over a year ago over it. And this just seemed to be the battle that I needed to go to war with. And I need warriors to stand beside me. You know, this is a war of ideology, a war of thoughts and of faith. And we need people to really stand for faith and trust, not hope and change.”

Is this a political campaign or a call for a religious war. Is this call for “warriors to stand beside me” another version of her call for “Second Amendment remedies”?

I think that Sharon Angle needs to pay less attention to the Bible and First Commandment and more to the Constitution and the First Amendment.

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