‘Silent Sally’ tells some whoppers to the Green Valley News

Two-time loser CD 2 GOP congressional candidate Martha McSally, who has been avoiding taking questions from the media (except the friendly confines of FAUX News) and even questions from her CD 2 constituents, was afforded an opportunity to “write about whatever you want” by Green Valley News editor Dan Shearer in advance of the one and only CD 2 GOP primary debate in which she will appear with her primary opponents this coming Saturday.

Liar-LiarMcSally has earned a national reputation for her unwillingness to state her position on issues and to simply answer the damn question from reporters, hence the “Silent Sally” moniker we have been testing out at this blog.

But after the op-ed McSally submitted to the Green Valley News, it’s time to drop the pretense and just call her what she is: a shameless liar willing to say anything without regard for the facts.

Let’s take a look at the whoppers told by Martha McSally in her op-ed:

Whopper #1. Social Security is going bankrupt

Green Valley’s seniors have paid into Social Security and Medicare and they deserve exactly what they were promised. That has always been my pledge to seniors. To accomplish this goal, we must find common ground to stop these programs from going bankrupt.

At our current pace, Social Security will go bankrupt in 20 years; Medicare may run out even sooner.”

This is a favorite scare tactic among GOP candidates, and it is a complete lie. Iian Moscovitz wrote at the Motley Fool in 2012, 5 Huge Myths About Social Security – DailyFinance:

Myth No. 1: Social Security is going bankrupt
The biggest misunderstanding out there relates to Social Security’s financial challenges. (A Google search for “Social Security bankruptcy” turned up 50 million hits.) But the fact is that Social Security isn’t going bankrupt, nor is bankruptcy really possible as the system is currently set up.

Here’s the source of the confusion: Historically, Social Security has collected more than it paid out. The extra money built up in a trust fund that collects interest. But due to demographic and economic changes (more on that in a minute), it’s expected that insurance payments will begin to exceed income in 2021. Around 2033, the fund will run out.

But even then, the revenue Social Security collects each year would still be enough to pay out about three-quarters of scheduled benefits as far as the eye can see.

In short, to say Social Security is going bankrupt, you have to ignore its revenues. But by such a weird standard — ignoring revenues and seeing how long it would take expenses to drive tangible net assets to zero — the average member of the Dow would go “bankrupt” in just under three months . . .

Of course, doing nothing would mean that Social Security won’t be able to meet its full obligations two decades from now. But it’s not going bankrupt.

Myth No. 2: Meeting Social Security’s future shortfall is really hard
We only need to come up with about 0.9% of GDP in order to make Social Security’s revenues match up with its expenses for the next 75 years. To put that into perspective, 0.9% is close to the cost of unemployment insurance, the high-end Bush tax cuts, or one-fifth of the Defense budget. That’s not insignificant, but it’s hardly apocalyptic.

There are two basic ways to close that gap. We could increase payroll tax revenue by raising the cap (currently any personal income beyond $110,100 is exempt from Social Security payroll taxes) or raising the rate. Or we could cut benefits by lowering payments and/or raising the retirement age. Other strategies could include things like allowing more immigration to reinforce the population of working-age citizens or paying for it out of the general fund, but they aren’t discussed as often.

Generally speaking, polls tend to show more support for revenue increases than benefit cuts, though there are plenty of different options. To get a sense of what they are, here are a bunch of different tweaks the Congressional Budget Office examined that could help us reach that 0.9% threshold:

oasdioptions101512Source: Congressional Budget Office.

Whopper #2. “I absolutely oppose privatizing Social Security”

What would undermine the Social Security system is allowing people to opt out of the system. McSally writes in her op-ed to the Green Valley News, “I absolutely oppose privatizing Social Security.”

This would be a reversal of her previous position in 2012, when McSally argued for allowing people to invest their Social Security payments in private accounts. McSally wrote, “For younger workers, we need to consider approaches such as gradually increasing the retirement age and allowing them to invest a portion of their Social Security payments in ways that will allow them to maximize their returns.” [Green Valley News 4/04/12; Arizona Daily Star 3/25/12]. McSally also wrote, “We need to look at gradually increasing the retirement age for younger workers and giving individuals more options to invest part of their benefits for higher returns.” Id.

Whopper #3. Medicare is going bankrupt

“At our current pace, Social Security will go bankrupt in 20 years; Medicare may run out even sooner.”

“So what about Medicare?” you ask. This is a “Mediscare” tactic from McSally. The chief of Medicare in May 2013 credited Obamacare for continuing to help extend the life of Medicare after a new trustees’ report said it will be solvent for two years longer than expected. Medicare Chief: Obamacare Is Extending Medicare’s Life:

The trustees’ report found that Medicare’s trust fund will remain fully solvent until 2026; last year’s projection was 2024. The two years comes on top of eight more years of initially projected solvency for Medicare due to the Affordable Care Act.

“The Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund is projected to be solvent for longer, which is good news for beneficiaries,” said Marilyn Tavenner, who runs the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we are taking important steps to improve the delivery of care for seniors with Medicare.”

Whopper #4. The return of the $716 billion “lie that will not die”

Washington Democrats, including Congressman Barber, have supported and defended drastic cuts to Medicare and Medicare Advantage amounting to $1,500 per senior in order to fund Obamacare. Meanwhile, some Washington Republicans have proposed altering Medicare to an untested and unproven model in the Ryan Budget. I oppose both these approaches because they do not uphold the promise our country has made to seniors.”

The cuts to Medicare Advantage providers marks the third election cycle in a row that the GOPropagandists have trotted out this “Mediscare” tactic which has been thoroughly debunked by fact checkers since 2010. I have fact-checked this several times in posts over the years. See NRCC’s ‘pants on fire’ – the $700 billion lie that will not die:

“Even after every media fact check organization in America rated the GOP claim that Democrats cut $500 billion from Medicare benefits a “pants on fire” lie repeatedly since 2010, my summary here Fact Check: The NRCC’s ‘pants on fire’ – the $500 billion lie that will not die,” they did it again in 2012. I posted the fact checks by CNN, ABC News and PolitiFact in Fact Check: Romney-Ryan ‘pants on fire’ – the $700 billion lie that will not die. The Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler is here. Answering readers’ questions about Medicare – The Washington Post. This is the same recycled bullshit from the previous two election cycles.

As Sahil Kapur pointed out in Medicare Chief: Obamacare Is Extending Medicare’s Life above:

The Affordable Care Act cuts Medicare spending by some $716 billion over the next 10 years by reducing payments to private insurers under Medicare Advantage as well as hospitals and other providers [there are no cuts to beneficiaries]. The law also aims to save money over time by transitioning Medicare from paying providers for quantity of services to quality of care.

“These reforms aim to reduce spending while improving the quality of care, and are an important down payment on solving Medicare’s long term financial issues,” Tavenner said.

Margaret Sanger-Katz at the New York Times’ Upshot column just last week reported, Expected Health Spending Declines (Again):

The last few years have seen a puzzling and welcome new trend in health care spending: Instead of going up and up, increases have slowed way down.

Since health care costs are growing more slowly than they have in decades, they’re making budget forecasts look better and better.

According to a report published on Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare is now expected to make up 4.6 percent of G.D.P. in 25 years, down from 4.9 percent in last year’s estimate. That’s a big enough difference that it buys the Medicare trust fund, which pays for hospital care for senior citizens and the disabled, about six more years of solvency in the budget office’s estimate compared with last year.

Over the last few years, the Congressional Budget Office, the official scorekeeper on federal spending, has repeatedly reduced its forecasts of how much Medicare will cost. And to nearly everyone’s surprise, the program keeps underspending even those revised estimates. A recent summary of the C.B.O. numbers published last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care research group, found that Medicare is currently spending $1,000 less a person this year than was forecast in 2010.

To the simpleton McSally: reducing health care costs actually extends the life of Medicare. It is not going “bankrupt.”

Whopper #5. I am opposed to the Paul Ryan Budget plan to voucherize Medicare

“Meanwhile, some Washington Republicans have proposed altering Medicare to an untested and unproven model in the Ryan Budget. I oppose both these approaches because they do not uphold the promise our country has made to seniors.”

McSally writes that she is now opposed to the Paul Ryan Budget, the official House GOP budget, which contains a plan to privatize Medicare under a “premium support” system by offering the elderly a coupon voucher to buy a private plan (by the way, it also retains the $716 billion in reduced payments to private insurers under Medicare Advantage in the Affordable Care Act). the Paul Ryan Budget also included increasing the eligibility age for Medicare over time.

This is a reversal of McSally’s previous position on the Paul Ryan Budget. In February 2012, McSally said that she supported “many elements” of the Paul Ryan [2012] budget proposal. [Interview on azstarnet.com, 2/28/12]. In April 2012, McSally said that she would have voted for Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget for FY 2013. “There were several budgets actually that were tied up last week to the House and the one that did pass is the one that Paul Ryan had created and I would have voted for that budget’ she said. [KGUN 9 News,4/09/12].

Half-Truth

“A report came out this month from the White House showing Medicare alone had $36 billion in improper or excessive payments. $36 billion is enough to fund benefits for 3 million additional Medicare recipients. $36 billion is approximately 6 percent of Medicare’s budget, and saving 6 percent would be a huge step forward.”

McSally is referring to the Wall Street Journal, Report Raises Red Flags on Medicare Lab Billing:

The report, by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, found that more than 1,000 laboratories showed five or more measures of questionable billing during [2010], the latest available when the office began compiling the data. That includes various metrics signifying higher-than-average billing, using ineligible physician identification numbers and administering duplicate tests, among other things.

The findings show how Medicare remains vulnerable to inappropriate spending. In fiscal 2013, the rate of improper payments in Medicare was 10.1%, representing $36 billion in improper payments, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That is up from 8.5%, or $29.6 billion, the previous year.

Clinical laboratory services, which include blood counts, cholesterol screenings and urinalyses, lend themselves to suspect billing in part because physicians order the services instead of providing them directly, according to Medicare fraud specialists.

A tiny sliver of doctors and other medical providers accounted for an outsize portion of Medicare’s 2012 costs, according to the analysis of federal data that lays out details of physicians’ billings.  The top 1% of 825,000 individual medical providers accounted for 14% of the $77 billion in billing recorded in the data.

Is McSally serious about prosecuting these wealthy medical providers for Medicare fraud? Because they tend to contribute heavily to GOP candidates. One is even governor of Florida. Rick Scott ‘oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history’ (Scott’s prior tenure as CEO of Columbia/HCA about a decade ago, when the hospital company was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud).

Speaking in GOP Code

[W]e need to lower the overall cost of health care by enacting patient-centered reforms. Doing this will improve Medicare’s sustainability and improve efficiency and quality of care for senior This includes replacing Obamacare with initiatives that strengthen doctor-patient decisions and focus on health outcomes driven by choice, transparency, and flexibility instead of the mandates, penalties, and taxes inherent in Obamacare.

This is the obligatory “repeal ObamaCare” mantra that everyone knows is not going to happen. “Patient-centered reforms” is GOP code for health savings accounts, tax credits, tort reform, etc. See House GOP Solutions Group Outlines Health Care Plan to Increase Affordability, Accessibility, Availability (.pdf). It is simply an outline of well-worn GOP talking points – 4 pages –  that the GOP has never put into a piece of actual legislation as part of its bogus promise to “repeal and replace ObamaCare” with a plan of their own over the past four years.

I am a constituent of CD 2. I will not tolerate a candidate who finds it so easy to lie me and to treat me as if I am ignorant and do not know better. In fact just the opposite is true. This is Martha McSally’s third run for Congress, and she has demonstrated to me that she is ignorant of public policy and lacks the intellectual curiosity to educate herself to be knowledgeable about public policy matters. She simply parrots the GOP talking points her GOP handlers give her to say. I will not tolerate a candidate who is so wilfully ignorant and intellectually lazy. There is no there there, and voters should not reward such a vacuous candidate.

3 responses to “‘Silent Sally’ tells some whoppers to the Green Valley News

  1. PAUL MILLER

    What do you expect …it’s called political literary license … so she lies … name one running for any office in Arizona who does not push or cross that line…?

  2. Prup (aka Jim Benton)

    There is a third part of politics as well, and that is understanding our opponent, and the nature of his backing and the coalition supporting him. We need to understand the difference between those supporters of his who are as ‘hopeless’ for us as we are for our opponents. (Tell me, is there one regular reader of BfAz — other than passing trolls — who is even conceivably going to vote Republican for any office? No? Then anyone who spends effort and time actually trying to convince us — instead of dragging us into a meaningless side argument like a troll — is wasting that time and effort, and would be wasting it even more if they tried to convince us that a McSally (or even a Franks) ‘really’ is closer to us than we think. We know better — and so do the convinced members of our opposing coalition. We won’t get them by pandering to them. But, every so often, we can convince someone who is philosophically opposed to us to vote for us anyway, because they admire our ‘courage’ or our ‘willingness to say what we really mean, even if we know it is unpopular.’ Not many, but every few votes helps. (A State Senate race here in Brooklyn in 13 wound up being decided by 13 votes. It does happen that sometimes EVERY vote counts.)

    There is a second group, who would never vote for us, who maybe are listeners to radio talkers and preachers and really believe we are horrible and dangerous. They are lost to our candidate, and we waste time trying to convince them to vote for us. But we might be able to get them questioning their own candidate as well, and maybe staying home or ‘scratching’ the race.

    Yes, that is indeed ‘voter suppression’ — but of the perfectly legitimate kind. We aren’t making it harder for people to vote, we aren’t creating legal obstacles, we are just convincing them that for their purposes and goals voting for ‘none of the above’ (either by skipping the election, skipping the race, or voting third-party) is their best choice.

    It is this category and the next where we fall down — though usually not as clumsily as do some of our pundits and professionals (*cough* Tom Kaine *cough*). We tend to see our opponents’ constituents as being composed of either fools, self-defeating idiots (‘who never vote for their own advantage’ — assuming that the only ‘advantage’ someone sees is financial, when we don’t vote that way. We vote against our financial advantage every time we vote for someone who supports inclusion — because it cuts down the chances our greed has of getting that job. We vote against our own ‘advantage’ every time a childless one of us votes to spend money on education, etc and we’re proud as hell that we do. But we don’t understand someone who votes against something like the ACA because he — as sincere as he is wrong — believes it is either unconstitutional or against what he views as his religious duty. We sure as hell don’t understand him enough to try and get under his defenses and convince him that his sources have lied to him. (We can just ‘throw facts’ but he has his own facts to block ours with and “It ain’t what you don’t know that hurts you so much as what you know that ain’t so.” We have to — and rarely bother to — challenge the authorities he relies on and show him he has been lied to.))

    Or else we see trhem as simply clones of their congressman, knowing everything he stands for — hell, there are things I’m not sure of my own Congresswoman’s position on — and supporting him one hundred percent on all of them.

    Times have changed. At one time we were scattered, didn’t sgree on all matters, and were vulnerable to being ‘peeled off’ on specific issues. Those ‘Reagan Democrats’ had been REAL Democrats once, but we lost them because we were divided on certain issues.

    But now we are the ones who are unified. (For good reason. This really is the first time in my memory where we are unified and on the right side on every issue, the right and usually the popular side.) It is our opponents who have the weaknesses on specific issues. Things that once were wedges to use against us — like LGBTQ rights, like contraception and women’s health, like other women’s issues like equal pay and sexual harassment, like various economic issues — are now the issues we can — if we have the brains — use to ‘peel slices’ away from our opponents.

    We forget, when someone votes Republican (yes, or Democrat) they may not know all their candidate stands for. They may not know even obvious things — obvious at least to political junkies like us. But let’s just take gay rights and SSM. These are now popular positions. Sure some voters will vote against us because of our support for them but we’ve already lost all of them by now, and we won’t win them back by waffling on the issue.

    Now the people ‘in play’ are the ones who used to oppose SSM — until they found out a friend or relative was gay, or until they saw the results it had in other states where it was legal. Now if we campaign proudly and boldly on it, it won’t cost us votes — those votes are already lost — but it might win us a surprising number of voters who would ordinarily vote Republican, who are ‘phiosophically’ (old-fashioned) Republicans, but who can’t support someone who is a homophobe, or someone who torpedoed VAWA, or who opposes minimum wage expansion or Medicaid expansion. Or who spends all his time in Congress doing nothing but voting to repeal the ACA and attending Darryl Issa’s numerous idiotic scandal-hunts.

    These aren’t just wedge issues that will peel off votes for those who support the unsupportable. We can put ALL Republicans on the defensive. “Okay, you don’t oppose SSM, that’s nice, but what are you doing to change your party’s position?” Okay “You aren’t a racist, you don’t oppose Obama because he’s black. Again, that’s nice, but have you ever demanded a Republican be fired for circulating racist e-mails as so many of your lower-level staffers have been caught doing?”

    But we can’t do any of this unless we actually run on the issues we have, and run boldly and unapologetically — remember those few votes from the first category. I don’t mean we all need to be raving Progressives — it’s nice when we are, but some places need moderates to run, particularly if they have a strong ‘neighborly’ approach. But we need to make our positions plain, and make people see it is the republican who needs to defend his position, not us, we’re just being sensible and fair.

    And again, it isn’t just up to the candidates. I am perfectly serious when I insist we can actually, on our own, do things that will be important in waking people up. Abd the key to our being able to do so is two words, “USE PRINT!

    Seriously, print reaches people, simply because it produces a ‘thing’ that people can see and pick up and read if only because they are bored waiting for a bus, because it is there in the columns of the paper. or there in the doctor’s office, or at the gym, or next to the cupcakes or the cash register.

    You can’t fast forward through print. You don’t have to click on it, knowing in advance where it is coming from and expecting just what message you expect. You don’t have to read it in an e-mail, which, of course, you never bother to open. You don’t have to pull out your phone and get someone to look at a print piece the way they would a video. Print is simply there and because it is, it gets seen by hundreds of times as many people who need to see it than do most tv ads, most web ads, most emails.

    And, btw, it’s cheap. You could put out a thousand well-designed flyers for a few bucks — and if they are good enough you can make more for other people to use as well — and if you are really broke charge them for your expenses.

    Of course all that is (in the tones of the immortal Maynard G. Krebs) “WORK!” Sports Talk Radio may not be as efficient, but its easier and probably more fun — at least until the electipon returns come in.

    [Congrats, BfAz, you are the ones to get stuck with the Prup “Harangue of the Week,”]

  3. Prup (aka Jim Benton)

    Okay, a wonderful piece — if you do something with it. BfA is still one of the type of blog I first discovered in 2006, a blog that is a ‘clubhouse’ for people who don’t just talk politics, but also are out working the streets and working the phones. It was/is a state blog, and that was an important thing because it could and did publicize races that needed the cleansing light of publicity.
    Sometimes we need reminding of what 2006 and 2008 were like. Because of two main factors, this new thing called blogs, and Howard Dean’s insistence to give up on not one single race — he realized that getting out the vote in a ‘hopeless race’ gives us a small chance of being able to take advantage of a mistake by a ‘sure winner’ (remember ‘macaca’) but also gives us voters who will vote on down-ballot races and swing some of them — we kept every single seat we had held and won a lot of the others. We’ve never done that before, but we did it in 2006 AND in 2008. In fact, one reason the ‘pundit blimp’ has been predicting doom for us this year is that we already “picked all the low-hanging fruit’ in those races. And some of them are still annoyed at how we won races “They” said we’d lose — and are even surer we’ll give them back this time.

    That’s what we did then, but some time in the 2009-2010 period too many blogs turned into ‘Sports Talk Radio.” Fun, sure, sitting around telling each other how awful the Republicans are, telling each other why our pet candidates should win. The trouble is that it is nothing more than fun.

    We started ‘preaching to the converted.’ We convinced each other to go vote — as if we wouldn’t have anyway. But we totally forgot that we could actually be influential — even when ‘our candidate’ was in office. And BANG!

    Another reminder. We slept through the 2010 election, mourning our sudden ineffectualness, so badly that, had the Republicans not handed us Crazy Chrissie, the Obtuse Angle and the Wrestling Queen, we would have lost the Senate then. We did a little better in 2012 — I think, for example, that it was the Dakota blogs that helped Heidi Heitsma win a seat we thought was lost — partially by spreading the word of her opponent’s record on Domestic Violence.

    But we — and I started this by saying that BfAz was far better than most — still forget what we are doing when we are ‘doing politics.’ It’s simple, really, a three-part process:

    We start by making sure our supporters actually get off their couches and away from their omputers and actually go vote. And yes, we are good at GOTV — and we have the ‘excuse’ that the ‘Sports Talk Radio’ aspect works for that — a little. (Most of us would crawl over barbed wire to vote if we never saw a blog, that’s ‘who we are.’ But we can at least start working on our neighbors who share our beliefs but not our enthusiasm.)
    Second, we realize we can and should reach the neutral, the apathetic, and the unconvinced, first to make sure they vote, and then to convince them to vote the way we want them to. Sure, we can’t work on a ‘wholesale level.’ None of us can afford to set up a PAC, run all those ads that we — and almost everyone else — only sees out of the corner of our eyes as they are fast forwaded through. But we can make up a few flyers of our own for a few bucks, and hand them out or leave them for people to find — whassamatta, we don’t have some store owners among us who can’t give the flyers a little counter space. We can even actually, on our own, but a small ad once a month in the local paper and fill it with witty and pointed commentary people will actually look forward to seeing.

    That’s two points — and if BfAz has a word limit, I’ve passed it. Let’s put part 3 in a separate post.