Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s assertion that all the stories
about Americans who fared poorly under the Affordable Care Act are
false, is wrong on its face.
By Peter Grier
WASHINGTON –Are Republicans right to call Harry Reid a liar? This
question arises in the wake of Senate Majority Leader Reid’s statement
on the floor of the Senate Wednesday regarding horror stories about
American’s experience with Obamacare.
“All are untrue, but they’re being told all over America,” said Senator Reid.
“All”? Republicans have leaped on this as a clear untruth of its own.
Some have wondered aloud if the mainstream media will call upon
Democrats to disown Reid’s comment, as it asked if Republicans would
repudiate rocker/provocateur Ted Nugent after he campaigned for the
GOP gubernatorial candidate in Texas.
Reid has a history of whoppers, according to other conservatives.
Remember in the presidential campaign, when Reid said in an interview
with the Huffington Post that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid taxes for 10
years? That was rated “Pants on Fire” incorrect by the fact-checking
“Once a month, Harry Reid said something that would be a career-ender
for your average Republican,” said Jim Geraghty of the right-leaning
National Review this week.
Well, Reid’s assertion that all the stories about Americans who lost
coverage, or had to pay more, or had to find new doctors under the
Affordable Care Act are false, is wrong on its face. Any big change in
social policy such as Obamacare will roil the status quo. While it
provides benefits for many who didn’t have them, it also creates
categories of losers whose situation will be worse off. For instance,
people who live in rural areas with little medical competition, and
make just above the threshold for government subsidies of their
premiums, are quite likely to face steep premium hikes.
In fact, that statement is so off that Reid knew it and walked it back
that same day. He returned to the floor and said he was focusing on
anti-Obamacare ads produced by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a
political group that has spent more than $30 million campaigning
against Obamacare in recent months.
AFP gets lots of money from wealthy brothers Charles and David Koch.
Reid referenced the Kochs by name.
“I can’t say that every one of the Koch brothers’ ads are a lie, but
I’ll say this … the vast, vast majority of them are,” said Reid.
This statement is partly true, partly not. Reid appears to have taken
his cue here from Democratic bloggers and activists who have
challenged many of the facts presented in AFP ads. In particular they
have taken issue with an AFP-financed spot running in Michigan in
which a leukemia patient said her new Obamacare coverage is
“unaffordable” due to higher out-of-pocket costs.
The women’s health premiums have actually fallen under Obamacare,
according to reporters who checked into her situation. They’ve gone
down enough so that she’ll likely pay less, or about the same, for her
health care even if her out-of-pocket expenses are higher.
“The bigger story here is that, in order to sell these Obamacare
‘horror stories,’ AFB needs to either shield the full stories from
comprehensive scrutiny or actively mislead about them,” writes the
left-leaning Greg Sargent on his Plum Line blog at the Washington
That’s just one ad, though. Reid said the “vast majority” of AFP ads are a lie.
That’s still a clear overstatement, according to Post fact-checker
Glenn Kessler. For this he gave Reid two Pinocchios on his four
Pinocchio rating scale.
Reid “would have been on safer ground if he dropped the harsh rhetoric
and had simply said that many of the ads have serious problems and
even rely on actors, not real people,” Kessler writes.
Underlying this spat over Reid’s accuracy are pent-up tensions
regarding his role as majority leader and the upcoming midterm
election. Republicans say Reid has run the Senate like an autocrat,
swatting away their attempts to propose legislative amendments on the
floor while curtailing the power of the filibuster.
Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee, at a Christian Science Monitor
breakfast with reporters this week, went so far as to compare Reid to
Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
Reid, for his part, may be worried his days in power are dwindling.
Right now polls indicate that it’s a better than even chance that
Republicans will win control of the Senate this November. If so, Reid
would be supplanted by the current minority leader, Sen. Mitch
McConnell (R) of Kentucky.
Reid’s “unacceptable rhetoric” and “astonishing behavior” are signs
that Democrats are desperate, Senator McConnell said in a Fox News