Thursday, April 25, 2013

"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes" (updated)

The quote in my title is from Mark Twain. If he were alive today, he might be surprised by how prescient  he was so long ago about information in the age of technology. We have a perfect example of that unfolding as I write - and the culprit of the lie is one that both journalists and news junkies should have gotten wise to by now...Politico.

Here's a little background. One of the things included in Obamacare is that members of Congress and their staffs will be required to purchase their health insurance on the state exchanges created by the law. So Politico's headline screams: "Lawmakers, aides may get Obamacare exemption." They then go on to explain how very secret meetings (that only Politico knows about, of course) are going on to let Congress off the hook.

There was one sentence that caught my eye - but no context was given and so it seems to have been ignored by most people.
The problem stems from whether members and aides set to enter the exchanges would have their health insurance premiums subsidized by their employer — in this case, the federal government.
What Politico failed to mention is that currently the federal government pays 75% of the premium for members of Congress and their aides. I'll let Ezra Klein take if from there.
It’s not clear that the federal government has the authority to pay for congressional staffers on the exchanges, the way it pays for them now in the federal benefits program...

But no one is discussing “exempting” congressional staffers from Obamacare. They’re discussing creating some method through which the federal government can keep making its current contribution to the health insurance of congressional staffers.
But of course everyone from the baggers of fire at naked capitalism to the baggers of tea at Hot Air are all over this one.  And for every one person who might eventually learn the truth about this story, there will be hundreds that carry on assuming that the health care exchanges are so terrible (and costly) that both congressional Democrats and Republicans are weaseling out of them while mandating regular folks to participate.

The moral of this story for any thinking person should be...NEVER trust a rumor started by Politico!  They do this kind of thing all the time.

UPDATE: Since even some writers like Brian Beutler at TPM seem pretty ignorant about what's going on here, Ezra Klein has written a bit more on all this.


  1. Brian Beutler is another fake progressive who delights in Obama bashing. Guess what Brian! You are smarter than the President only in your own twisted mind(?).

  2. In his Daily Politics Blog, Charles Pierce always refers to Politico as Tiger Beat On the Potomac.