I’m sorry, I’m a little angry today. That’s because of this statement:
“When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?” McDonald said Monday during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters. “And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”
That’s a statement by VA Secretary Robert McDonald addressing a question about excessive wait times at VA facilities. All I can figure is he must have been a rather mediocre product of public education because this screams “STUPID!”.
When waiting in line for “Space Mountain”, Mr. Secretary, do people die? No? Then, you idiot, it’s not a valid comparison.
And secondly, what sort of “satisfaction with the experience” can someone who died waiting have, dumbbell? I’ll tell you now, since it is obvious you can’t figure it out – a very UNSATISFACTORY experience.
But of course, the dead can’t speak, can they you moron?!
Tell you what, why don’t you quit trying to find ways to explain the excessive wait times that are killing veterans and fix the effing problem? Ever think of that?
What a freaking imbecile.
We can only hope so … but then, one should remember that John Roberts sold his soul and his intellectual reputation to make payment for it into a tax. So we shall see. But some heartening news today if you’re someone who believes those in government should be held to the Constitution’s restrictions on government.
In a major ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said the administration does not have the power to spend money on “cost sharing reduction payments” to insurers without an appropriation from Congress.
Collyer’s decision doesn’t immediately go into effect, however, so that the administration can appeal it.“This is an historic win for the Constitution and the American people,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement. “The court ruled that the administration overreached by spending taxpayer money without approval from the people’s representatives.”At issue are billions of dollars paid to insurance companies participating in ObamaCare so they can reduce customers’ out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles for low-income people.
The House GOP argued that the administration was unconstitutionally spending money on these payments without Congress’s approval.
Of course that’s an almost daily occurrence for the past few decades. The lines have blurred and no one is held accountable. Oversight? What a joke.
How far this will go and whether the decision will be upheld is a mystery at this point, but not much of one … see again the first sentence.
The administration, of course, had an answer:
But the administration said it did not need an appropriation from Congress because the funds were already guaranteed by the healthcare reform law in the same section as its better-known tax credits that help people pay for coverage.
Yup, the executive needs no permission to spend your money anymore, just as he or she no longer needs permission to wage war. Blurred lines becoming even blurrier. Separation of powers? Get real.
Imperial presidency? For quite a while. The Judge, though, wasn’t buying the explanation:
Collyer ruled that the section only appropriated funds for tax credits and said the cost sharing reductions require a separate congressional appropriation, which the administration does not currently have.
“Such an appropriation cannot be inferred,” Collyer wrote. “None of Secretaries’ extra-textual arguments — whether based on economics, ‘unintended’ results, or legislative history — is persuasive. The Court will enter judgment in favor of the House of Representatives and enjoin the use of unappropriated monies to fund reimbursements due to insurers under Section 1402.”
Good for her. It won’t dismantle the dreadful system, but it does take another chink out of its funding. It’s a start. But whether the start will later faulter and fail to be upheld is still to be seen. In today’s world, unfortunately, the likelihood of that sort of a failure is much more prevalent than had this ruling come down 40 or 50 years ago when most people still believed in a much more limited government constrained by the Constitution.
Brave new world … one that promises to be much like the old and oppressive world if some have their way.
And it is neck deep in health care. So, with the passage of ObamaCare, what is the state of medicine?
The doctor is disappearing in America.
And by most projections, it’s only going to get worse — the U.S. could lose as many as 1 million doctors by 2025, according to a Association of American Medical Colleges report.
Primary-care physicians will account for as much as one-third of that shortage, meaning the doctor you likely interact with most often is also becoming much more difficult to see.
Now, 2025 is 9 years away and, the “primary-care physician” is the star of ObamaCare because he or she is the “gatekeeper”. However, which doctor is the worst compensated of all doctors?
Why the gatekeeper of course. And, that’s by design. Government design:
Starting salaries in high-paying specialties can range from $354,000 (general surgery) to $488,000 (orthopedic surgery), while primary-care fields tend to bring a sub-$200,000 starting salary, from$188,000 (pediatrics) to $199,000 (family medicine), according to a Merritt Hawkins report.
The pay disparities reflect America’s “fee for service” health-care model, which compensates providers based on the number and type of services they complete, and which inherently favors specialists.
Anyone know what entity pushes the “fee for service” model? Can you say “Medicare”? And yes, the insurance companies follow their lead. Hence, we have doctors in the primary care field looking at specializing because as gatekeepers, they are mostly the chief “referrer” to the other medical specialties … the ones that get paid more.
Wow … what a surprise then that the field of primary care is looking at a future shortage. It’s another one of those “human nature” things that central planners simply can’t wrap their brains around.
Then there’s the exacerbation of the problem by ObamaCare:
The shortage is one that’s been stewing for decades but of late was exacerbated by passage of the Affordable Care Act, which increased the number of insured people and along with that the demand for doctor access, experts say.
As we’ve mentioned countless times, having insurance does not equal having care. And as the number of gatekeepers dwindles, that problem will become even more acute.
Of course everyone knows what the answer that will be put forth by our political leaders don’t they? Why of course more government. You know, like the UK, where the former head of the NHS just died because the operation she needed was postponed 4 times.
Because, you know, the current political circus has sucked all the air out of the coverage of anything else … or maybe it has distracted everyone so much they aren’t paying attention. But this story is one that is and has been inevitable since the debacle of Obamacare was passed and instituted:
Federal health officials are seeking to deny medical reimbursements to doctors and hospitals that have served patients insured by failed Obamacare health insurance co-ops, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
Instead, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are insisting it, not medical providers, has the first right to any remaining funds as 12 of the 24 co-ops go through the liquidation process.
A legal showdown is expected over who pays for the co-op debacle that to date has lost at least $1.4 billion in federal solvency loans. The failures have forced the cancellation of health insurance policies for at least 800,000 customers.
The confrontation now pits medical providers against CMS bureaucrats who claim the federal government should be first in line to get any leftover funds.
The government’s plan has failed, those who trusted the government to implement it properly so they’d be reimbursed have been stiffed, and who is it trying to muscle their way to the front of the line for any money available? Why the same institution that set up this enormous scam, of course.
That’s what you get when you pass laws no one has read with policies written for and by bureaucrats and special interests, and haven’t a clue as to how any of it will work in the real world. And no one should forget, this is all on the Democrats, who wrote it, passed it and signed it into law. Every bit of it.
And now, the institution that brought about all this failure is putting those it is supposed to serve at the back of the line for reimbursement. Of course we’ve seen this before, haven’t we? Think GM bankruptcy and bailout. Yeah, creditors … back of the line.
Mandy Cohen, CMS’s chief operating officer, was the first Obama administration official to assert the federal government would preempt reimbursements to local or state medical providers. She did so during a Feb. 25, 2016, House oversight subcommittee hearing on health care.
“For federal loans, there is an order of repayment,” Cohen said. “I believe we are at the very top of all of the creditors.”
Well, except for a little thing like the Supreme Court saying the opposite:
Cohen’s testimony also puts CMS on the record as ignoring a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court verdict that held the federal government is next-to-last in line for payment in insurance cases and policyholders are first. Cohen claimed the Justice Department will enforce the CMS policy.
Same bullying government, same guy (and party) in charge. And of course the Justice Department will enforce “CMS policy” even if “CMS policy” is contrary to the law, because, the law is selectively enforceable under this administration, isn’t it?
Apparently they’re no longer a judicial body which weighs the arguments, compares them against the law and finds for the intent of the Constitution. Or said another way, the real Constitution is dead – long live the “living Constitution” that is full of goodies for which others pay.
How do I know this? Easy:
Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the words must be understood as part of a larger statutory plan. “In this instance,” he wrote, “the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”
Or said another way, to hell with law and the Constitution, the 6 of us have decided this is a good thing and we’ll read it any way we want too. Pay up, suckers.
I saw where someone said the court finally moved left.
Folks the court moved left 10 years ago with Kelo.
It’s just taken a while for some people to realize that.
As the delegates left the building, a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got?”
With no hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Not a democracy, not a democratic republic. But “a republic, if you can keep it.”
And, we couldn’t.
Or at least that’s the thesis of one Allen Clifton.
Which brings me to President Obama. While I’m not calling him a genius, I do think he’s extremely intelligent. I also believe that his tendency to use “big picture” thinking while drafting policy is something most Republican voters simply can’t understand.
Now understand it this comes from orthodoxy central, aka a site called “Forward Progressives”. And this is apparently considered “forward thinking”. We just are too stupid to get it.
He uses Obamacare as an example of us not getting it:
While many Republicans want to look at the “now” aspect of the Affordable Care Act, they seem unable to grasp the reality that as more Americans get health insurance, giving them access to preventable care, this lowers expenses down the road for everyone. If people can prevent very costly heart attacks, strokes or other debilitating health issues now, that’s an overall savings for practically everyone from consumers to health insurers to doctors who now have more patients. Quite literally, improving the overall health of Americans will improve the health of this country. It even makes sense for our economy. If workers are healthier, because they have access to quality health care, that means there will be fewer people calling in sick to work, showing up sick to work (putting other employees at risk) or relying on government programs because their health conditions (that were preventable) render them unable to work at all.
But to see all of that requires “big picture” thinking and Republicans seem unable to understand anything beyond the spoon-fed bumper sticker talking points they’re given by the GOP and the conservative media.
We could spend 5,000 words and countless hours expounding on how clueless this is. Health care doesn’t get less expensive if you “subsidize” it by penalizing those who work and earn by making them pay for those who don’t. Period. Wealth is something earned by individuals, not governments. When government’s take other’s wealth to pay for government priorities, it leaves less for the individual who earned it to spend on their priorities. This isn’t a hard concept to grasp, but seems beyond Mr. Clifton and our brilliant president. While all the pie in the sky BS about a healthier American work force sounds wonderful, for the most part it isn’t the workforce that’s benefiting from this subsidy. So while you may want to see this as a “far reaching” plus, it isn’t. There are certainly ways to approach the lack of insurance, but this isn’t one of them.
Mr. Clifton then doubles down on his ignorance of economies with this “Underpants Gnomes” paragraph:
Minimum wage is another issue you see this with. Republicans constantly paint it as a “job killer” (it’s not) while also rallying against the millions of people who are on government assistance. Funny thing though, a good portion of the Americans who are on government assistance have jobs. If we made sure that no American working full-time had to rely on government programs just to survive, instantly we would save our country hundreds of billions of dollars over the years. Not only that, but when Americans have more money, they have more to spend. And what’s the biggest driver of economic growth? Consumer spending. More consumer spending means higher profits and higher demand, which means – more jobs.
But once again, when it comes to Republicans and explaining job creation, anything outside of “tax cuts create jobs” is often too complex for many of them to understand.
So, where again does the money come from to pay that $15 minimum wage? The earnings of the business. And what will a business have to do if it has to pay that wage? Well it has some choices – raise prices, lay off workers, go out of business, etc.
Would someone have more money to spend? Yes, if they weren’t laid off or their business didn’t close their doors.
And how big of a jump in spending money would they have? Well initially a bit. But then prices would adjust, because, you see, as the price of labor goes up, so do the prices of commodities and goods. In other words, if they still have a job and they’re earning $15 an hour, fairly quickly prices will catch up with their gain and their purchasing power will be about the same as they previously enjoyed. Meanwhile, businesses who can keep the doors open are raising prices and laying off workers, or considering automation as a replacement for workers.
Apparently this too is beyond the grasp of Mr. Clinton and the brilliant president. Half the story, in both cases, is where Clifton stops. And this is considered just freaking brilliant by the boob.
And you wonder why the left lives in a fantasy world? This isn’t rocket science nor is there a dearth of examples proving these points. They are everywhere, throughout history. Look them up? Oh, hell no … let’s continue to live in our fantasy orthodoxy and call everyone else stupid.
See climate change for further proof of this nonsense.
Forget the Supreme Court ruling that may gut it, the program is failing all on its own as it is unable to keep or deliver on any of its promises. Include with that the financial disaster it has become and you have the perfect vehicle for defining “a failure”:
ObamaCare’s supporters would like everyone to believe that with Healthcare.gov now functioning, everything is just fine and dandy. Contrary to what the conservative press (which I guess would include me) has been saying about the many problems of ObamaCare, Vox‘s Ezra Klein declared last September that “in the real world, it’s working.” In February, his fellow Voxland inhabitant Sarah Kliff rattled off eight ways in which the law had proved its critics wrong.
But has it? Not really.
For starters, the exchanges have enrolled about 3 million fewer people than the Congressional Budget Office projected in 2010. And far fewer of the enrollees are from the ranks of the uninsured than hoped. Medicaid enrollment is lower too, for the simple reason that states refused to expand the program.
Ezra Klein hasn’t visited the “real world” in years (Dale and I asked him once if he’d visited a VA hospital after he waxed enthusiastic about how good the VA was. Of course, he hadn’t). And, as expected, the government’s predictions, which were used to justify Obamacare, were woefully wrong. No surprise to some of us.
The core of President Obama’s sales pitch to America was that the program, which he called the Affordable Care Act, would “bend the health care cost curve” and save an average family $2,500 on their premiums each year. How would it accomplish this feat? Essentially, he said, by forcing uninsured “free loaders” who show up in the emergency room to obtain free care to either buy (subsidized) coverage on the insurance exchange or sign up for the expanded Medicaid program. The point was that if they had coverage, they’d get cheaper care sooner in a doctor’s office rather than more expensive care later in a hospital emergency room.
Things don’t seem to be working out that way. ObamaCare is indeed bending the cost curve — but up, not down.
In fact ER visits are up under Obamacare, not down (another supposed justification for the law). As for rates? They continue to go through the roof:
Every year, companies selling coverage through ObamaCare’s exchanges have to ask state regulators to approve their premiums for the following year — a practice more appropriate for the Soviet Union than an allegedly free-market economy. And this year, according to several news reports, some are requesting increases of over 50 percent.
In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6 percent in premiums for 2016. The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3 percent increase. In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4 percent across its products. Moda Health, the largest insurer on the Oregon health exchange, seeks an average boost of around 25 percent.
Some states are even higher.
The reason is called “economics”. It is a fairly simple concept to grasp. When you subsidize millions who don’t pay full price or any at all with the money those who do pay full price pay, the cost curve for those paying has nowhere to go but up. Surprise, that’s precisely what is happening, despite promises to the contrary (which we here knew were full of hot air when they were first uttered).
And there are more hikes on the horizon:
What’s more, these hikes are likely just a prelude to far bigger ones in future years. Why? Because two programs — risk corridor and reinsurance — that were meant to “stabilize” rates in ObamaCare’s first few years so that insurers could obtain the right mix of enrollees are set to expire next year. (The risk corridor program slaps a fee on insurance companies that have lower-than-expected medical losses, and compensates those that have more. The reinsurance program imposes a fee on insurance policies and funnels it to insurers with high-risk individuals.) With these programs gone, the challenge of maintaining a balanced risk pool will become even harder.
The expanded Medicaid program is no picture of robust health, either. It has produced no cost-saving decline in emergency room visits, nor has it contributed to hospital profitability, as was hoped.
What a freakin’ mess. So?
So, to recap: ObamaCare has fallen short of its enrollment target, hiked insurance premiums, failed to cut down on ER visits, and flopped in its attempt to improve hospitals’ bottom line.
But its real problem is the lawsuit? Maybe treatment for delusions is covered under ObamaCare!
Hey, like I said, some people think the VA system is the cat’s meow. There is no hope for them.
Dietary guidelines – the Washington Free Beacon got a triple Drudge link yesterday pointing to an article on the new USDA guidelines for making sure we’re being good little tax payers and can continue to be good little tax payers (until we get to be 75, at which point we should just die so as to prevent being a burden on society and our families).
Obviously someone in the Drudge organization wanted to get attention on this yesterday, but not as a red-letter item. However, it has or had, three links to it, which I always view as meaning they understand people click for reasons of personal interest, and they provided three reasons, all of which to me boiled down to ‘hey, you kinda concerned about government intrusion into your personal life????’.
What all three links jumped to is a high level review of the new Dietary Guidelines recommendations that the USDA is unleashing on us.
I’m (actually) going to review the PDF from the USDA in detail but the highlights of the article show some scary possibilities for connections at a high and obvious level.
Considering right off the top of my head, the beautiful union of what I call the Affordable Insurance Scam (ACA/Obamacare), and Net Neutrality rules:
the government thinks it can monitor pretty much anything you do to your body on the theory that they’re now helping to pay for your healthcare. So they recommend ‘trained interventionists’ will help out at work sites, food sites, businesses, schools, the community….to help you manage your weight problem.
and…tax increases, of course, because it’s essential we keep Moloch’s fires burning ya know….so they’re recommending sin taxes on desserts (yeah, seriously) and I’m sure soda, and chips, and yeah….
And finally the USDA thinks it’s a good idea to monitor our ‘screen time’ to see if we’re spending too much time sitting in front of a TV or, I’ll wager, a computer, kindle, cell phone.
Sure, I could be reaching, but I’m fairly sure it will eventually tie to the recent drive they have in saving our Internet with Net Neutrality regulations. I say I could be reaching, but they said that when we observed the nanny state would soon outlaw transfats too. Open the gate, they’ll see a need to come on in.
If you’re still using dead tree products to read of course you’ll be okay. They probably think it more healthy to remain sedentary reading a book for 5 hours than it is remaining sedentary viewing information from a screen for 5 hours. Probably because they figure Americans just don’t DO that.
Which is part of the reason we’re where we are today really. We’re proving we really are morons.
So, here’s the USDA recommendations.
And those recommendations even on the surface scare the crap out of me because unlike the good old days when the government could ‘recommend’ things, now they don’t recommend, they use their power over the national purse, over business regulations, over utility regulations, and the power of tax enforcement to ‘recommend’ things by way of financially punishing us to help correct our erroneous (not in agreement with what they want) ways of thinking and acting in our private lives.
We’re not quite there, yet, but data gathering is a tool, a resource, and a creepy way of watching everything you’re doing if you’re not using cash for your purchases. Your WalMart purchase doesn’t just show dollar amounts to the world.
“I see you bought 3 pounds of cane sugar, 2 lbs of butter, 2 dozen eggs, 2 gallons of fat milk, and 10 lbs of refined white flour…..why?”
Not there yet, but the capability is there, and all that has to happen is someone like the Obama administration decides they can regulate to the businesses that they need that information for health care purposes.
Oh, and don’t reflect on over 40 years of being told, by this same government, that refined grains were great for you, or that dietary cholesterol was really bad for you.
All in all, it’s working out to be pretty twisted but not really that surprising given our betters view on who’s in charge here and who works for who.
I’m pretty sure Khrushchev and Brezhnev and the rest of the Homburg hat wearing politburo weren’t necessarily worried about your diet as long as you kept your head down, kept quiet, and did your part like a good little soviet comrade.
Excuse me, is that tiramisu you’re eating there Winston?
The idiocy continues on all sorts of fronts. A few things that caught my eye. David Axlerod’s autobiography and his expectations:
“More than anything, this is what’s terrible about modern media and how these books roll out,” Axelrod says. “I was determined to write a book that wasn’t going to be characterized by some titillating nugget that had about a three-day half-life, but rather an entire story of my life and the conclusions that life has led me to. I wanted to write a book that people might want to read years from now and not just today’s publication because they wanted to find out who had been knifing who.”
A lovely sentiment. But Axelrod, who likes to think of himself as a real-world idealist, surely knew not to get his hopes up.
Oh balderdash. Axelrod is about as calculating a political hack as one can find. To assume he was so naive or stupid to believe his book would be treated any other way is irony on steroids. The only thing interesting about the man at all are the political secrets he may reveal. I got a good laugh out of his disappointment.
Under the sarcastic title of “wow, I’d have never guessed this … ” we find:
A shadowy Bermudan company that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
Look, those guys learned how to successfully co-opt liberal left anti-war groups ages ago. This is just the updated effort. Why this would surprise anyone is a mystery to me. And, of course, it’s the big names of the movement – Sierra Club, the Natural Resource Defense Council, Food and Water Watch, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Center for American Progress. Bought and paid for … by evil oil.
Irony … it’s just lost on the left.
Under the title of “when bureaucrats get huffy”, things got a little testy in a Congressional hearing yesterday with the newest VA Secretary. Apparently he’s not used to having his competence questioned:
The fracas started when Coffman criticized the VA for citing its effort to defend cost and time overruns at a Denver hospital projects as a major accomplishment.
“How is that a success?”
[Rep. Mike] Coffman [(R-Colo.)] asked. “You lost that case on every single point for the hospital in my district that is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.”
“I think that that’s just characteristic of your glossing over the extraordinary problems confronted by your department,” Coffman added. “This is a department mired in bureaucratic incompetence and corruption. And I gotta tell you, I think the public relations is great today, but there’s no substance.”
McDonald said he was offended by those remarks, and then dodged the question and tried to shift the blame to Coffman and others in Congress.
“Actually, I’ve been here six months,” McDonald said to Coffman. “You’ve been here longer than I have. If there’s a problem in Denver, I think you own it more than I do.”
Really … because Coffman has what to do with running the VA project in question? After all the failure of the past 6 years, that’s just what you need, an egoistic, thin-skinned nincompoop at the head of the VA. McDonald followed that little jewel up by showing he knew nothing about the person he was insulting:
… McDonald ended by barking at Coffman, “I’ve run a large company, sir. What have you done?”
Well, as it happens, Mike Coffman is a combat veteran who started his own company, and is the only member of Congress to have served in both Iraq wars. And as it happens, Secretary McDonald is an ass, just like the head of the IRS, just like our Attorney General, just like … yes, it’s the culture and climate that has evolved within this administration and it all goes directly to the head of it all … our snarky, sarcastic and disrespectful president.
Btw, in my estimation, McDonald ended up looking like a fool, something he richly deserved.
Instead of hurling insults, McDonald should be interested in actually doing something useful. Like his job:
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ vast health network — beset by a scandal last year over delayed care — has been listed as a high-risk federal program by congressional auditors for the first time.
The report by the watchdog Government Accountability Office, which is issued every two years, includes a broad indictment of the $55.5 billion VA program, one of the nation’s largest health care systems. USA TODAY obtained the VA section of the report, scheduled for release Wednesday.
And this goob, like most of the administration, is trying to lay off any blame. It’s a perfect example of an ossified bureaucracy that is more than incompetent, it’s lethal.
Finally, for those of you who like strolling down the memory lane of climate alarmist predictions, there’s a website up dedicated to reminding us again how wrong they’ve all been:
A senior environmental official at the United Nations, Noel Brown, says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000.
San Jose Mercury News 30 Jun 1989
Ah, yes, the good old days.
What else is new, right? In the last presidential election, it was the “War on Women”, with George Snuffleupagus firing the first volley with an oddball question about contraception. This time around, it’s a report from Chis Christie’s tour of the UK:
As he toured the United Kingdom on Monday, Chris Christie seemed to leave his tough guy persona back in the United States. The potential Republican 2016 presidential contender punted on questions about whether Americans should vaccinate their kids amid a 14-state outbreak of a disease which is staging a comeback after being largely eradicated by science.
“All I can say is we vaccinated ours,” Christie said, while touring a biomedical research facility in Cambridge, England, which makes vaccines.
The New Jersey governor added that “parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”
Not exactly controversial unless you spin it the right way (which CNN does in the above article by accusing the New Jersey Governor of being uncharacteristically mealy-mouthed). And it would really help if you could get another potential candidate on the record saying something similar. Enter Rand Paul:
In a contentious interview today, Sen. Rand Paul said he’s heard of cases where vaccines lead to “mental disorders” and argued that parents should be the ones to choose whether they vaccinate their children, not the government. Paul is a former ophthalmologist.
“I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” Paul, R-Ky., said in an interview with CNBC anchor Kelly Evans.
“I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they’re a good thing, but I think the parents should have some input,” he added. “The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children and it is an issue of freedom.”
Again, not terribly controversial except for the “mental disorders” part. Which is what the media are now running with to paint all conservatives as “anti-vaxxers”:
NBC News – “Rand Paul: Vaccines Can Lead to ‘Mental Disorders'”
CNN – “Paul: Vaccines can cause ‘profound mental disorders'”
ABC News – “Rand Paul Says Vaccines Can Lead to ‘Mental Disorders'”
HuffPo – “Rand Paul: Children Got ‘Profound Mental Disorders’ After Receiving Vaccines”
Vox – “Rand Paul says he’s heard of vaccines leading to ‘profound mental disorders’ in children”
FactCheck.org – “Paul Repeats Baseless Vaccine Claims”
So on, and so on. The New York Times tackles it this way:
The politics of medicine, morality and free will have collided in an emotional debate over vaccines and the government’s place in requiring them, posing a challenge for Republicans who find themselves in the familiar but uncomfortable position of reconciling modern science with the skepticism of their core conservative voters.
The vaccination controversy is a twist on an old problem for the Republican Party: how to approach matters that have largely been settled among scientists but are not widely accepted by conservatives.
Suddenly, we’re all talking about vaccines and how those nasty, anti-science Republican weirdos are dangerous to society. Funny how that works. And of course, never let facts get in the way, such as Paul being correct about the mental disorders thing. Here’s his statement again:
I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.
Guess what? The CDC agrees with him (my emphasis):
MMR vaccine side-effects
(Measles, Mumps, and Rubella)
What are the risks from MMR vaccine?
A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions.
The risk of MMR vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.
Getting MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles, mumps or rubella.
Most people who get MMR vaccine do not have any serious problems with it.
Fever (up to 1 person out of 6)
Mild rash (about 1 person out of 20)
Swelling of glands in the cheeks or neck (about 1 person out of 75)
If these problems occur, it is usually within 7-12 days after the shot. They occur less often after the second dose.
Seizure (jerking or staring) caused by fever (about 1 out of 3,000 doses)
Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints, mostly in teenage or adult women (up to 1 out of 4)
Temporary low platelet count, which can cause a bleeding disorder (about 1 out of 30,000 doses)
Severe Problems (Very Rare)
Serious allergic reaction (less than 1 out of a million doses)
Several other severe problems have been reported after a child gets MMR vaccine, including:
Long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness
Permanent brain damage
These are so rare that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine.
While extremely rare, do long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, or permanent brain damage count as “profound mental disorders”? I guess you make an argument that not all such cases do, but I would think permanent brain damage fits the bill.
Ironically enough, the FactCheck.org article actually highlights that Paul and the CDC are on the same page:
There have been some reports of “lowered consciousness” or permanent brain damage after a vaccine is given for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) or measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), but the CDC says that these are so rare that a cause-and-effect relationship cannot be determined.
Note that the CDC does not posit a causal connection, but then again neither does Paul. Indeed, he further clarified:
“I did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that they were temporally related — I did not allege causation. I support vaccines, I receive them myself and I had all of my children vaccinated,” Paul said in a statement. “In fact today, I received the booster shot for the vaccines I got when I went to Guatemala last year.”
Too late, since the media has its juicy soundbites already.
None of this is to say that GOP politicians don’t do this to themselves. Paul certainly didn’t have to even raise the specter of a potential causal link between vaccines and mental disorders. He should have known that, regardless of what the CDC and science says, most everyone was going to associate his comments with the debunked autism link. Even if there was a proven causal link, it’s so incredibly rare as to not be deserving of a mention. I get his thinking from a liberty perspective, but message delivery is vital and Paul failed at that.
The Chris Christie statements, on the other hand, don’t strike me as even slightly off, but clearly there was a theme building here amongst the media hivemind. The idea that the guy who insisted on quarantining the Ebola nurse is super interested in liberty does sound a sour note, and Christie probably should have led with the idea that routine vaccinations are safe and effective which is why everyone should get them. Seems like a rookie mistake for someone who’s been in the limelight for quite some time.
Not that it matters. The theme has been set, and the narrative will now run its course. Inconvenient facts such as who the anti-vaxxers really are, or what Democrats have had to say on the issue, will be glossed over or simply dismissed. And all vaccines will be treated the same so that if a GOP candidate balks at mandating, say, a flu vaccine, he or she will then be tarred as an anti-science, ant-vaxxer. Democrats and the Left will be fine with this since they have zero problems with government mandates. And thus the media has neatly cleaved the country it two wholly separate and unequal parts in order to drive the political wedge deeper.