As most politicians realize, in order for a lie to serve its purpose, it has to be at least vaguely plausible. Politicians who go too far and make up an outlandish lie have done something counterproductive -- people not only won't believe the bogus claim, they'll end up thinking less of the person telling the lie, instead of the intended target.
With this in mind, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sent out a newsletter to supporters last week claiming, "For every Kentuckian that has enrolled in Obamacare, 40 have been dropped from their coverage."
That is, of course, demonstrably ridiculous, even by Rand Paul standards. In reality, an untold number of Kentuckians saw their old, substandard plans get phased out under the Affordable Care Act -- such cancellations were common before the ACA, too -- but these consumers transitioned to new coverage.
Besides, to suggest that these folks outnumber enrollees 40 to 1 is suggest Rand Paul is very bad at math -- the remarkable success of Kentucky's "Kynect" program makes the claim literally impossible. More than 413,000 people in the state have enrolled -- multiply that number by 40 and you end up with a number far larger than the entire population of the state.
How in the world did the Republican senator arrive at such an outlandish figure? Glenn Kessler reported
Paul spokesman Brian Darling says that the staff failed to update a line that appeared in Paul's newsletter in November. At the time, Kentucky reported 7,000 sign-ups for private plans, and the newsletter was measuring that against 280,000 canceled private and small-group plans. This is the same sort of apple-and-oranges use of outdated numbers that earned McConnell Four Pinocchios. Instead of a remedial math class, maybe the staff in Paul's office should start keeping up with the news.
That's assuming, of course, that Paul's office is genuinely concerned with giving newsletter recipients accurate information.
As long as we're on the subject, I've been meaning to mention that the entire "canceled plans" talking point is increasingly hard to take seriously
Millions of the plans that were canceled because they did not meet Affordable Care Act requirements probably would have been canceled anyway -- by the policyholders, a new study suggests. [...] Most individuals who lost plans probably would not have continued them even without the law, according to the study, which was published online Wednesday in Health Affairs.
Jonathan Cohn added
, "In English, that means few people hold onto non-group policies for very long -- typically, it's just a transitional phase, while they are between jobs that provide insurance directly.... So what does that tell us about Obamacare? According to Sommers, it suggests that most of the people who got those cancellation notices probably would have dropped existing coverage within a short time anyway."
And people wonder why Republicans are suddenly so interested in talking about Benghazi and the IRS.