TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather.
Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

The Right Stuff

A politics blog by Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson's baseball card - if he had one - would report he throws left, writes right. In his columns and blog, "The Right Stuff," southpaw Jackson provides insight into the evolving human condition from a distinctly conservative point of view.

Leftish columnist aboard Fantasyland carousel

By
Published:   |   Updated: March 28, 2014 at 11:35 AM

It’s hard to know where to begin dismantling the misinformation glut appearing under the name of Frank Cerabino, a Palm Beach Post columnist whose precious yammering about Marco Rubio’s opposition to Obamacare appeared on the op-ed page of Friday’s Tribune.

A quick skim of Cerabino’s rant reveals at least five assertions that, on the facts, are at least wobbly, if not outright misrepresentations.

Among the particularly laughable: David Frum, “conservative” columnist. Not lately. Frum, who gave George W. Bush the “axis of evil” phrase, abandoned the right not long after the rise of the Tea Party movement. He’s used his status as a former GOP insider to tweak conservatives on cable news, yapping at his ex-colleagues from the end of a liberal media leash.

But the crux of Cerabino’s critique otherwise centers on four weary lefty talking points, which is ironic – although he’d never notice – because Cerabino himself complains about Rubio’s reliance on “a litany of tired talking points.” Pot, meet kettle.

Cerabino grumbles that Rubio failed to mention the “442,000 Floridians who have already signed up for Obamacare coverage.” There’s a good reason for that. The figure touted by Obamacare acolytes – the most in America! – is at best presumptive. Signing up isn’t paying a premium. With the administration waiving the Monday deadline, invoking Unilateral Change No. 38, it’s an open question whether signing up even means completing an application.

Moreover, we don’t know what portion of enrollees was shoved into the exchanges because their old policies – the ones that fell to President Obama’s “Lie of the Year” – were scuttled by Obamacare mandates. If Florida is like the rest of the nation, Obamacare has so far barely budged the needle when it comes to its animating goal: getting coverage to the uninsured.

Cerabino also tags Rubio for failing to mention that unpaid medical bills is the No. 1 cause of personal bankruptcy, but this, too, is thoroughly debunked mythology, a tale of woe whipped up using tortured numbers by a Harvard University team that included Democratic activist, imaginary American Indian and – sigh – current senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren.

If unpaid medical bills aren’t the top cause of personal bankruptcy, and they aren’t, it follows that Cerabino Talking Point No. 3 – “Floridians … are just one ailment away from financial ruin” – is equal nonsense.

Cerabino crosses the finish line in his own Fantasyland half-marathon by suggesting Rubio should tell his constituents who are seniors and/or veterans about the evils of genuinely socialized medicine delivered through Medicare and the Veterans Administration.

Taking the second first, veterans don’t need to be instructed on the inefficiencies, delays and rising costs of care through the VA; those compelled to rely on its Byzantine mercies live it every day. As for Medicare, one thing at a time. House budget chief Paul Ryan’s income-tested premium-support model, replicating the sumptuous smorgasbord available to federal employees, would solve most of what ails Medicare by introducing thoughtful free market reforms.

About the only thing Cerabino gets right, in fact, is when he quotes Frum, and even now Frum has sense to recognize the swiftness with which Americans embrace new entitlements: Once your neighbors get comfortable with the idea of government controlling their health care access in exchange for tax-subsidized premiums, “They [will] have gained something they will think is worth protecting.”

That, at least, is a worthwhile argument, and it’s one all Republicans – but especially those inclined to run for President – must be ready to address when Congress reconvenes in January 2015 with GOP majorities on both ends of Capitol Hill … leaving our friend Frank Cerabino in exquisite agony.

Subscribe to The Tampa Tribune


Comments