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Monday, February 24, 2014

Obamacare horror stories fail fact-checks; so what about Tom Cotton's 'Elizabeth'?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 6:42 AM

click to enlarge WHO'S ELIZABETH? Fact-checking sought on Tom Cotton's Obamacare victim.
  • WHO'S ELIZABETH? Fact-checking sought on Tom Cotton's Obamacare victim.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes today about Obamacare scare stories being churned out by the Republican Party opposition. On closer examination, they fall apart, false or not nearly so dire as portrayed.

Which raises a question: What about the Obamacare victim U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton cited in his response to President Obama's weekly address Saturday? Will he give reporters a name so that it can be fact-checked, too?

Krugman writes:

In the official G.O.P. response to the State of the Union address, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers alluded to the case of “Bette in Spokane,” who supposedly lost her good health insurance coverage and was forced to pay nearly $700 more a month in premiums. Local reporters located the real Bette, and found that the story was completely misleading: her original policy provided very little protection, and she could get a much better plan for much less than the claimed cost.

Came Tom Cotton Saturday to tell a similar story :

“Elizabeth, from Pulaski County, Arkansas knows this all too well. Elizabeth gets insurance through her employer, but her monthly premiums have risen eighty-five percent because of Obamacare’s new coverage mandates. She’s now forced to pay for things she does not want and can’t afford, simply because Washington politicians and bureaucrats think they know what’s best for her and her family.

“What’s worse, Obamacare isn’t just raising her premium costs. Elizabeth now takes home less total pay than she did in 2011 – and that’s after two raises and a promotion. She’s stopped shopping at locally owned businesses because she can’t afford their prices, so Obamacare is hurting her local community, too. 

It is perhaps just as Cotton describes. Trust, but verify. Elizabeth, can we talk?

Krugman writes about actors in Louisiana TV ads against Sen. Mary Landrieu claiming they've lost health insurance. They are just acting. In Michigan, a cancer victim who claimed higher costs actually had lower costs, a fact-checker found. Krugman's theory:

Even supporters of health reform are somewhat surprised by the right’s apparent inability to come up with real cases of hardship. Surely there must be some people somewhere actually being hurt by a reform that affects millions of Americans. Why can’t the right find these people and exploit them?

The most likely answer is that the true losers from Obamacare generally aren’t very sympathetic. For the most part, they’re either very affluent people affected by the special taxes that help finance reform, or at least moderately well-off young men in very good health who can no longer buy cheap, minimalist plans. Neither group would play well in tear-jerker ads.

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