It's caucus night, and national Democrats have dispatched our old friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Iowa to dispense her special blend of partisan invective and hacktastic spin. After gliding through a kid gloves interview on MSNBC, the DNC Chairwoman held a brief general media availability -- and Townhall was onhand to challenge her talking points. DWS incessantly denounced Republican extremism (which curiously helped drive a historic GOP landslide in the midterms), and lustily engaged in Mediscare to underscore just how terrifying conservative policies are. Republicans are determined to "end Medicare as we know it," she intoned. When the moment presented itself, Katie jumped in to ask why Democrats continue to insist on repeating the political "lie of the year," as determined by the typically left-leaning fact check organization, Politifact. Wasserman Schultz, visibly perturbed, interrupted the question and launched a meandering answer that hinged on an empty distinction. Off camera, I chimed in with two quick follow-ups -- to which DWS was substantively unresponsive. Here's the full exchange, culminating in the Florida Congresswoman throwing in the rhetorical towel:
(1) Wasserman Schultz -- who has been excoriated for spreading outright lies about the Ryan plan by virtually every fact-checker under the sun -- is technically correct that there's a difference between stating that Republicans want to "end Medicare," and saying they want to terminate the program "as we know it." In reality, of course, both assertions are designed to serve the same dishonest purpose: Scaring seniors with disingenuous innuendo and misinformation. Paul Ryan's House-passed reforms save Medicare from impending actuarial doom, which brings us to my first follow-up...
(2) "Doesn't simple math end Medicare as we know it?" Why, yes. Yes, it does. DWS, who is a master at denying empirical facts, couldn't even muster a complete rejection of my premise, so she reverted to empty, meaningless boilerplate. Entitlement reform is necessary to protect seniors (ending Medicare as we know it!), she explained, while scrupuously avoiding any specifics. Regular readers may recall that she and I have done this tango before. I encountered her at the Iowa State Fair this summer and asked her to articulate her party's alternative vision for meaningful Medicare reform, in light of their hysterical demagoguery over every single Republican proposal. Back then, her response was abysmal and devoid of any substance. Nothing's changed, it seems. (Note well her comment that Medicare "solved" senior citizens' healthcare worries -- a fantasy that conveniently elides that fact that this miracle fix is on a collision course with insolvency.
(3) After reciting a few platitudes, DWS pivoted back into attack dog mode, bitterly demanding that Republicans "sit down and compromise" with Democrats to help preserve Medicare. Well, as it happens, the very Republican she regularly demonizes has recently done exactly that. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin teamed up with lefty Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon to introduce bipartisan legislation that incorporates many elements of Ryan's original proposals, while maintaining "traditional Medicare" as an option in market-driven exchanges. It also offers a more generous benchmark for spending increases than Ryan's 2012 budget called for -- a concession to the Left. Although many conservatives have voiced significant concerns about some of the compromise's elements, the Wyden/Ryan plan does precisely what DWS claims to crave. Nevertheless, the White House instantly dismissed it out of hand -- they're too invested in Mediscare as a political strategy to abide any plausible solution. Does DWS share the president's opposition to the break-through, consensus-building reform plan? As the clip reveals, she wasn't interested in answering that question. What a surprise.
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