With the midterm elections fast approaching, Donald Trump has picked up a pen to help the party. In an op-ed published today in USA Today the president attacks a Democratic healthcare plan, claims they want to erase the US’s borders, and threatens that a Democratic victory at the polls will transform the US into a socialist country.
The op-ed appeared to be timed to coincide with a multi-state GOP ad campaign against single-payer health insurance. It was widely criticized by journalists and academics, because much of what Trump wrote is false.
USA Today has “lost its mind,” wrote New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen on Twitter.
USA Today’s editorial page editor Bill Sternberg told Quartz that the submission was “treated like other column submissions; we check factual assertions while allowing authors wide leeway to express their opinions.” Readers are “invited to submit opposing viewpoints and provide additional context,” he wrote.
When Quartz fact-checked the president’s claims, we found several misleading statements, half-truths, and outright lies:
On “Medicare for all”
a new legislative proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives.
Democratic lawmakers have not all signed on to a single proposal. Trump is likely referring to bills introduced by Democratic senator Bernie Sanders and representative Keith Ellison. Based on these two bills, and other proposals, Medicare would indeed be different, but it would not end. (The idea has been floated in Congress for 15 years, but is gaining traction now).
Essentially, the approach would expand health care to cover all citizens, rather than just seniors or citizens with disabilities who ware covered by Medicare. Senior benefits would not be taken away or reduced. Nursing associations and doctors are among the groups voicing support.
[d]ishonestly called “Medicare for All”
It’s not dishonest, although it is a marketing gimmick. Polls have shown that a lot more voters respond more favorably to “Medicare for All” than “single payer insurance.”
It would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years.
This is indeed the result of a study on the program’s cost. The $32.6 trillion breaks down to about the same as what the US currently spends annually on healthcare. In 2016, the US spent $3.3 trillion on healthcare.
I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise
The GOP was not able to muster enough support to pass an alternative to the Affordable Care Act. However, Trump did expand short-term insurance plans, which are not required to cover pre-existing conditions. The White House has also said it would no longer defend the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that pre-existing conditions be covered, effectively making it easier for insurance companies to deny coverage. (Trump himself links to an article stating that he “flip-flopped” on that promise.)
Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare.
This claim, based on an analysis published by a Republican action committee, is false; the $800 billion actually refers to the predicted change in health care providers’ profits under Obamacare.
Republicans have proposed cutting funds for Medicare, Democrats countered today. “Every year of [Trump’s} presidency, House Republicans’ budget proposals have called for approximately $500 billion in cuts to Medicare and at least $1 trillion cut from Medicaid, which seniors rely on for long-term care,” said Democratic representative Nancy Pelosi in a statement, which is backed House budget numbers.
The Democrats’ plan also would mean the end of choice for seniors over their own health care decisions. Instead, Democrats would give total power and control over seniors’ health care decisions to the bureaucrats in Washington, DC.
Today’s Medicare is already run by the US government, which puts limits on coverage and drugs. Under Medicare for All, seniors and other customers would still be free to choose and refuse specific care and procedures.
Democrats would outlaw private health plans that offer the same benefits as the government plan.
This is true. Private plans would be allowed if they offered different conditions from the government plan. Policies with the same conditions would be blocked due to fears they would undermine the critical mass necessary to empower the single payer to conduct better price negotiations.
On the “new Democrats”
The truth is that the centrist Democratic Party is dead.
Thanks in part to demographic shifts, the percentage of Americans who identify as Republicans has been shrinking in recent years; the percentage who identify as Democrats has remained the same. Both parties have moved away from the center, Pew Research Center found in a late 2017 study, particularly on immigration, help for the needy, and race-related issues.
The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.
Democratic socialism is growing in popularity among millennials of both parties; 48% of millennial Democrats and 23% of millennial Republicans identify as “socialists” or “democratic socialists,” a recent poll found. Contrary to Trump’s claim, Democratic socialists still represent a minority in the Democratic party, however.
Venezuela’s economy collapsed under the weight of authoritarianism, corruption, and mismanagement; it is also not a role model to anyone within the Democratic party. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has pointed to Denmark as a goal instead.
Democrats are also pushing massive government control of education, private-sector businesses and other major sectors of the U.S. economy.
If Democrats win in the November midterms, they are expected to increase oversight of Trump’s Department of Education, and force it to back US civil rights laws in schools. About 90% of US families already rely on a public, or government-run school to educate their kids; however, the vast majority of those budgets are handled by state and local governments.
Every single citizen will be harmed by such a radical shift in American culture and life. Virtually everywhere it has been tried, socialism has brought suffering, misery and decay.
While dozens of countries have the word “socialist,” in their ruling government party name, which should and shouldn’t actually be considered “socialist” is a matter of debate.
China is often referred to as a “socialist market economy,” but it is essentially an authoritarian dictatorship, run by a small group of wealthy people, for example. On the other hand, the so-called “Nordic models” of socialism embrace capitalism with a strong social safety net; citizens of these countries enjoy some of the world’s highest national rankings for quality of life and gender equality.
Indeed, the Democrats’ commitment to government-run health care is all the more menacing to our seniors and our economy when paired with some Democrats’ absolute commitment to end enforcement of our immigration laws by abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That means millions more would cross our borders illegally and take advantage of health care paid for by American taxpayers.
Just one-quarter of Democrats favor abolishing the immigration enforcement agency ICE. Of those who do, many suggest reassigning the rapidly expanding agency’s roles, rather than eliminating them entirely. Others suggest curbing its authority.
Today’s Democratic Party is for open-borders socialism.
“Open borders” is a term that the Trump administration has been using frequently, but it doesn’t accurately reflect most Democratic party members’ position. The Democratic party platform stresses improved “border security” and prioritizing enforcement to target criminals, not families; all the House Democrats (and several Republicans) voted to give “Dreamers” citizenship but also enhance border security.
Bernie Sanders dismissed the term “open borders” as a Koch brothers proposal (the right-wing industrialists are in favor of looser immigration laws); younger DSA candidates have called for a “humane, responsible” immigration system.
This radical agenda would destroy American prosperity. Under its vision, costs will spiral out of control. Taxes will skyrocket. And Democrats will seek to slash budgets for seniors’ Medicare, Social Security and defense.
Democrats have long pushed to expand Social Security and Medicare. Some have proposed rolling back the Republican tax cuts on companies passed last year to pay for infrastructure and other projects. Historically, Democrats did favor curbing defense spending, but not in recent years.
Quartz has reached out to USA Today’s Sternberg for more information.