Monday, September 10, 2012

ABC's This Week: Two Georges and Three Pauls


On ABC's This Week, George Stephanopoulos - and his cohort George Will - juggled three "Pauls" ~ Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, and Paul Krugman. There's also a Cokie and a Cory, but they don't add much substance.

Video of Episode Here

Complete Transcript Here

Paul Ryan was almost impossible to pin down with specifics about what he and Romney would do if elected. Mainly he just repeated GOP talking points and lies about how various programs work.

Here's a good example: On Medicaid. Ryan dances around all the good that Medicaid does for children, seniors, and the disabled, and instead starts bashing Obamacare. He also ignores the basic fact that most governors know good and well that their constituents need Medicaid, and that states don't have the resources to make up the difference if those funds are cut. Ryan's version of "flexibility" for the states is code for "pay for it yourselves."

STEPHANOPOULOS: President Clinton also took aim at the savings you do propose in Medicaid -- $800 billion, the largest specific savings in your plan. That's about a 35 percent reduction over the next decade.

And the president argued that it's going to be devastating for seniors who rely on Medicaid for nursing home care, middle-class families challenged by disabilities, children with autism. How can you squeeze that much money of a program, $800 billion, without cutting benefits or restricting eligibility?

RYAN: Here's the secret on this one. Medicaid spending still goes up under what we're proposing. What we're saying is we want to repeal ObamaCare, because we think it's a terrible law. And so we're taking away the massive increases in ObamaCare that are attributable to Medicaid. About a third of the people that ObamaCare is supposed to serve, they're just pushing people on Medicaid.

Here's the problem, George. Medicaid is not working. More and more doctors are less likely to even take people with Medicaid. It's a system that needs reforming.

So we don't want to put more money and force more people on a program that's failing, that's not working. We want to reform Medicaid. And so what were saying is, don't expand this program as dramatically as ObamaCare does. Keep it like it is, increase its funding and send it to the states so the states can fix this problem. I think government closest to the people, especially in providing health care for the poor, works the best.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But The Urban Institute has estimated that between 14 million and 27 million people will -- fewer people will be covered under that plan. And won't the block grant, block-granting this program, sending it to the states, mean that low-income and disabled people will lose their guaranteed right to coverage?

RYAN: No, not at all, of course not. Look, governors are asking us all the time for more flexibility on Medicaid. There are a lot of different ideas out there on how best to cover the low-income populations of various states. And look, every state has different issues and different problems. So we want to be able to give the states the tools they need, make sure that they spend this money on their Medicaid population, but give them the ability to fix the problems in their unique state --

STEPHANOPOULOS: But doesn't --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- individuals will not have a federal guarantee under a block grant. That's correct, isn't it?

RYAN: Sure. No, with maintenance of that -- I won't get into the details, but with maintenance of effort requirements, which is what we've done in the past, they still have to serve this population. They just get more flexibility on how to serve this population, instead of all these rules and strings from Washington that make it really hard for them to make sure that they can meet the mandate and provide the best possible quality care to low-income populations.

Yep ~ that flexibility thing will solve everything. No details necessary - just vote him into office and he will "fix" the system. Oy Vey.

Then Rand Paul and Paul Krugman bickered over another talking point ~ whether government has "exploded" under Obama, which according to the GOP, it has. Rand Paul fervently believes it, anyway.

PAUL: ... understand is you are arguing that the government sector is struggling. Are you arguing that there are fewer government employees under Obama than they were under Bush?

KRUGMAN: That's a fact.


PAUL: No, the size of both -- of government is enormous under President Obama.

KRUGMAN: If government employment had grown as fast under Obama as it did under Bush, we would have a million-and-a-half more people employed right now, directly.


PAUL: Are there less people employed or more people employed now by government?

Then they got back to commenting on Paul Ryan - with a classic Paul Krugman smackdown of doofus and Democratic concern-troll Cory Booker:

Booker: . . . This is Paul Ryan who used to be a man of substance, who put up plans, I may disagree with some of them, but with great levels of specificity. Now they have said they're going to cut $5 trillion in taxes, increase spending in the military, and somehow not dig us into a deeper deficit budget...

. . . KRUGMAN: I'm going to disagree, respectfully, he was never a man of substance. This is who he always was. That was always an illusion.

Later, Krugman had a few choice words for the Republican Convention:

KRUGMAN: It's not a matter of individual speeches or strategic positioning. The Republican Party is where it is because that's where the base is. And you watched that whole primary process, Republican candidates had to appeal to their base, which is by and large elderly white people arguing with empty chairs. And they could not -- they could not reach out to the growing demographic--

Old Republican Geezer George Will thinks we should do away with political conventions entirely - I guess because he wanted to go bed early instead of watch them, plus he yearns for the day when Bill Clinton isn't making lengthy speeches (dream on, George). Paul Krugman points out the educational purpose of such a convention, bringing the whole thing back around to Paul Ryan, whose speech truly "defined" him at the RNC in Tampa.

WILL: We need a little data on who watches these conventions and what effect they have. Because, you know, conventions are a government program, and there is an enormous amount of tax dollars that goes into this. And like all government programs, they are immortal and they go on forever. Maybe we should terminate these.

KRUGMAN: I thought the two conventions were enormously informative. A lot of people who normally catch politics in snippets on the news, got to see extended laying out of positions on both sides. And a lot happened. Right? We saw -- we saw the implosion of Paul Ryan, you know, extraordinary dissent and reputation, because people got to see him speaking at length on national TV. We saw Bill Clinton laying out a case in more detail than most people would ever get to see. These were -- I'm not sure that conventions don't decide anything in terms of who gets nominated, but they turn out to be extremely effective educational programs.

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