“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over . . . Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”-- Joseph Goebbels
Some months ago I wrote an article, the underlying point of which was that facts are facts. In order to get anywhere as a nation, our voters must be able to compare relevant facts on both sides of the issues of the day. As voters we do know that if you don’t have the facts on an issue, one is likely to deflect attention from your weak hand by using the techniques mastered by National Socialists in the 1930s and ‘40s to demonize their opponents or blatantly lie regarding an issue.
Regrettably, our current race for the White House resembles a sporting contest. A certain amount of these “hijinks” can be expected from any campaign. The Romney campaign recently was awarded “3 Pinocchio’s” by the Washington Post for alleging that the President opposed allowing our active duty military an extra three days to vote at the front end of the coming election to ensure that they can fully participate. The fact is that the President’s team was really arguing that everyone should get the advantage of that extra three days. This is obviously an emotional issue, but it is more “inside baseball” than a fundamental national policy issue over which we should be squabbling. Nevertheless, that distinction is probably missed by many Ohio voters, and, though “small potatoes,” we can understand the complaint.
On the other hand, far too many instances of issue avoidance and emotional attacks of a far more serious nature characterize this year’s campaign season by those clinging to office, and the voters can assume that this is not an accident but is supposed to divert their attention from the real issues that will determine our nation’s future. The origin of the greatest number of such spin campaigns are found in the President’s efforts to divert attention from his record of governance to Governor’s Romney’s wealth or to his supposed lack of sensitivity to the pain of the average voter. These efforts are pure chaff, devoid of substance. They are designed to avoid taking responsibility for the failures of this president’s administration, the poor economic condition after almost four years of the very constituents he promised to help, and the heightened divisions created by his take-no-prisoners approach to being president.
We hear from him and his surrogates personal invective regarding the Republican candidate and scare tactics regarding the fate of the nation should it choose the Romney-Ryan path.
Let’s just take one issue: Medicare and National Health Insurance. Both Governor Romney and Paul Ryan point out that their program would save Medicare for this generation of recipients and arguably create a far better program for those now under 55. If they want, Governor Romney offers, those 54 and younger can select a Medicare program as their alternative for coverage. Rep. Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, has already co-sponsored with Senator Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, a measure that would do exactly that.
Chairman Ryan truthfully also points out that it is really the President who has hurt this generation of seniors by raiding Medicare for $716 billion in support to provide funds for the Patient Care and Affordable Protection Act (Obamacare). These reductions will directly limit care for current enrollees without replacing it with something else. In the Obama world, that something else would inevitably involve rationing. Obama says that is just to get it started and that it will be made up for by squeezing savings from hospitals and other providers when it is up and running.
With Medicare providers already leaving the program, it is hardly likely as the Obama Administration tries to wrest service for another 30 million currently uninsured from a diminishing dollar pool that those savings are there. The rationing comes in as a result of Obama’s already enacted alternative. His new fifteen-person Payment Advisory Board is going to be forced to make decisions regarding who gets service and who does not. Meantime, the $294 billion cut in money for hospitals, $156 billion in lost funding for Medicare Advantage, $39 billion cut in funding for skilled nursing, $17 billion cut in hospice care, $66 billion in cuts for home healthcare, $33 billion in cuts to other providers, and the $11 billion in cuts to be ordered by the Independent Payment Advisory Board are no longer available and must be restored to protect those who today are most vulnerable.
While the Supreme Court has issued its decision on this law, the public has long since decided this is not the American Way and is demanding a re-do. Later in the fall, I will sketch out a program that may fall short of covering everybody for all medical care, but will accomplish much of what the public tells us they do want,and it will be provided by efficient private providers rather than crony government.
Professor Freer is the BB&T Visiting Professor in Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C., after a career in law, government, and corporate management spanning a half century. Professor Freer served as a government trial attorney, assistant to two Chairmen of the Federal Trade Commission, and for the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Picked by Kimberly–Clark Corporation to be its Washington Counsel, he became its youngest vice-president and was responsible for its representation before all governmental bodies, and for energy management and environmental compliance and control. Following his retirement from Kimberly-Clark, he was a principle in several law firms, including his own mid-sized Washington firm, and came to the academic realm as the first John S. Grinalds Leader in Residence at The Citadel and as an adjunct professor at The Charleston School of Law.
Prof. Freer was part of a very small team working with Casper Weinberger and Edwin Meese to create the structure for the Reagan Administration’s transition. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as a Commissioner of the White House Fellows Commission and served as Captain of the Grace Commission’s Land Team. He also served as Assistant General Counsel of four Republican National Conventions.
Prof. Freer founded the Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel’s Association in 1979. He followed that as the co-founder of the Republican National Lawyers Association in 1985, Washington Episcopal School in 1986, of which he remains Chairman Emeritus, Lawyers for the Republic in 1988, the U.S. Cuba Business Council in 1993, and the Free Enterprise Foundation in 2002, for which he is the current chairman.
Dr. Freer has also edited and authored several books: Finding Our Roots, Facing Our Future: America in the 21st Century, Citadel Values I and II, and the novel, Eagles Quest under the pseudonym Elliott Robins.