Thursday, August 16, 2012

Medicare, part 2

There is something about writing words down on a whiteboard that gives them the ring of truth and authority. That's what Mitt Romney must have thought when he made this presentation.

And here's the Obama campaign's response:

Who are people going to believe, and how are they going to figure this out? Both whiteboards cannot be true. As I said in my previous post, this stuff is really confusing and hard to explain even with a whiteboard presentation.

But wouldn't it be helpful if the Romney campaign would define some of its terms? For example, when they say Obama has cut $700 billion out of Medicare, shouldn't they explain that those cuts do not affect benefit levels, but instead come from changing reimbursement rates to hospitals, rooting out fraud, and similar measures? When Romney says 4 million seniors might lose Medicare Advantage, shouldn't he explain that that means taxpayers will no longer subsidize private insurance companies for charging a higher price for the same coverage than the public system? Shouldn't Romney explain that the Romney/Ryan plan is going to feature actual cuts to Medicare unlike the savings the president has implemented, and that they will be expecting the next generation of seniors to shoulder more of the costs of medical care?

I fear that all voters will take out of these presentations is that both candidates are saying the exact same thing: "My plan will protect Medicare and keep it solvent; the other guy's plan will send Medicare into bankruptcy." People tend to choose which side is telling the truth based on gut instinct. The whiteboard just helps people rationalize the choices they have already made. So take your pick. I'm not being cynical here, just describing how the mind tends to work. If people really want to understand what each campaign is promising to do about Medicare, that is going to take a little more study.

UPDATE (8/17/12): People could start with this video from Stephanie Cutter, which takes apart Romney's claims one by one:


  1. Good post - this stuff is complicated.

    I was with you until you referred me to Cutter. She reminds me of the "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", one of Aesop's Fables.

    You'll remember the shepherd boy who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking a wolf is attacking his flock. When a wolf actually does appear, the villagers do not believe the boy's cries for help, and the flock is destroyed.

    When Cutter finally tells the truth no one will believe her.

    1. I think you just proved my point about how the mind works.

  2. I think I made my point about how politics works.