Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Just One Example

It's not worth taking the time to unpack all of Sen. Collins' distortions here. But I'd like to look at one example, to convey just how misleading she's willing to be.

At 1:43 in her new video, Collins produces a chart to support what is perhaps her most troubling criticism--that the Senate bill will "increase health care costs" and fail to "rein in costs." After all, wasn't reform supposed to deal with runaway costs? If it doesn't--and instead sends them soaring higher--surely the junior senator is right that the reform legislation is a failure.

But is she right?

As the chart fills the screen, Collins cites the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and viewers are clearly meant to deduce that the chart was produced by the CBO.

It wasn't.

In fact, when you look at the tiny fine print, the chart seems, instead, to have been drawn up by the Senate Republican Policy Committee--using numbers churned out by the "Senate Budget Minority."

And so Collins has performed a bait-and-switch, swapping in a partisan chart--produced by reform opponents, based on their own assumptions--even as she leads viewers to believe that she's passing along independent analysis.

Needless to say, reform proponents reject the chart's conclusions: While they readily concede that (as the CBO notes) total, aggregate cost of all health care spending will go up initially in the Senate legislation (as it would in any plan that extends coverage to millions--including the imaginary one that Collins could actually support) the bill is designed to reverse that increase over the long term by restraining spending growth.

(That may sound counter-intuitive at first, but it won't once you look at the numbers.)

Of course, Collins is free to challenge health care economists like Jon Gruber, who vouch for the cost control mechanisms in the bill. But she doesn't challenge them in her speech. She simply asserts that they're wrong. And pretends that her position is backed up by respected, independent experts.

That's sneaky. It's disrespectful to Mainers and it shows bad faith. And it's totally consistent with the junior senator's disingenuous approach throughout the health care debate.

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