A memo allegedly from the higher-ups of the Democratic Party has been circulating, advising Democrats to avoid discussions on the details of the CBO report on Obamacare, and tells them to actively mislead the public on some points of the Obamacare bill.
Politico initially ran the story, but has pulled it upon claims by Democrats that it is a Republican hoax. Fortunately, it was covered elsewhere. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air discloses that he was sent a scan of the memo by an Washington source, and provides the pdf here. Moe Lane at Red State also has a pdf of the memo.
Moe Lane highlights some important sections of the memo:
Explicitly. From a Thursday memo on the subject:
We cannot emphasize enough: do not allow yourself (or your boss) to get into a discussion of the details of CBO scores and textual narrative. Instead, focus only on the deficit reductions and number of Americans covered.
Emphasis theirs, not mine. Also:
The inclusion of a full SGR [‘sustainable growth rate’ – ML] repeal would undermine reform’s budget neutrality. So, again, do not allow yourself (or your boss) to get into a discussion of the details of CBO scores and textual narrative. Instead, focus only on the deficit reductions and number of Americans covered.
As most health staff knows, Leadership and the White House are working with the AMA to rally physicians support for a full SGR repeal later this spring. However, both health and communications staff should understand we do not want that policy discussion discussed at this time…
I’d ask what they were so afraid of, but I already know the answer – and so do you.
Ed Morrissey comments and highlights the section he feels is most significant:
Earlier today, a source in Washington DC sent me a scan of a memo that Democratic leadership has passed to staffers on the Hill instructing them how to handle the media and their bosses in the next 72 hours on ObamaCare. I confirmed it with another source on Capitol Hill a few minutes ago. The memo warns staffers to avoid discussing the mechanisms within the CBO analysis in order to mislead voters on their intentions for the “doctor fix” and how it will “undermine the reforms’ budget neutrality.”
I won’t transcribe it all (readers can download it here to read it in full), but I’ll highlight the relevant passage:
Second, most health staff are already aware that our health proposal does not contain a “doc fix.” Some Republicans have repeated CBO’s November 18th letter that says “the sustainable growth rate (SGR) mechanism governing Medicare’s payments to physicians has been frequently modified (either through legislative or administrative action) to avoid reductions in those payments, and legislation to do so again is currently under consideration in Congress.” The inclusion of a full SGR repeal would undermine the reform’s budget neutrality. So, again, do not allow yourself (or your boss) to get into a discussion of the details of CBO scores and textual narrative. Instead, focus only on the deficit reduction and number of Americans covered.
As most health staff knows, Leadership and the White House are working with the AMA to rally physicians support for a full SGR repeal later this spring. However, both health and communications staff should understand that we do not want that policy discussed at this time, lest I [sic] complicate the last critical push for health reform.
Basically, this is an admission that the numbers the Democrats submitted to the CBO were entirely false, and that they plan to make this bill a deficit expander in the spring. It’s a breathtaking admission of deceit and hypocrisy — and its exposure should have the media asking more questions about that CBO scoring and putting Democrats in the hot seat over it.
Of course, the Democrats are claiming that the memo is a GOP hoax, because Obamacare is somehow not already such a mess that it needs to be further discredited, or something. From Talking Points Memo:
A senior Democratic leadership aide told TPMDC in an interview the memo, obtained and printed by Politico and leading the Drudge Report this afternoon a few days ahead of the health care vote Sunday, is “a hoax.”
“We have checked with every Democratic office, no one has ever seen it. It did not come out of a Democratic office,” the aide said, adding that media outlets printing the memo have not checked with leadership offices if the memo is authentic. A second Democratic leadership aide confirmed the memo was not sent by the Democrats. A third Democratic aide also said the memo is fake, citing the “draft” stamp and saying no one uses such things.
Morrissey has confirmed with several sources on the Hill that he memo was in fact being circulated, although its origin couldn’t be verified.
Meredith Jessup at Townhall mentions the story.
Peter Suderman at Reason Magazine comments on the memo and the claims of it being a hoax:
If Democrats were actually caught admitting all of this, it would likely be pretty damaging. Democrats, however, are claiming the memo is a GOP hoax.
I can’t verify whether or not it’s a genuine Democratic memo, but the fact that neither the Politico item nor the memo itself identify an author or source is somewhat suspicious. Politico is attempting to verify the veracity of the document now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s never confirmed either way—or if it is, but not until long after the larger legislative debate is settled.
And that is the likely outcome. Whether it is a hoax or not, it veracity will most likely not be determined until after the vote. Supporters of Obamacare will never be convinced of its veracity, and opponents will never be convinced of its falsity.
Lori at Snark and Boobs also comments on the story, and the issue of it being a hoax. She isn’t too convinced:
Ed Morrissey confirmed it’s existence and he is always trustworthy. That said, he can’t confirm with whom the memo originated.
Update (Ed): When Politico went live with this article, I had confirmed with two people I know on the Hill that they had seen this being passed around. Did it come from Democrats, or from Republicans? I can’t answer that, but I did confirm with two sources that it exists.
If it was originated by the Republicans (although I doubt it; Talking Points Memo isn’t a reliable source, to say the least. And neither are the Democrats, clearly) , then I hope the media doesn’t dare try to blast them for allegedly “dirty tricks”, all while ignoring the fact that the Democrats are trying to circumvent THE CONSTITUTION.
Even if the memo is a hoax, what the Democrats are doing to get Obamacare passed is far more devious than a false memo.
As far as I’m concerned, here is what it comes down to: who is more desperate? Obamacare is unpopular, and the Democrats are having to resort to arm-twisting, bribery, and potentially unconstitutional procedural maneuverings in order to get it passed. Republicans have public opinion behind them and a myriad of possible actions with which to fight Obamacare even if it is passed, many of which seem very likely to succeed. The CBO report was glossed over and finagled to benefit Democrats, and they were avoiding discussing the inner details that belied their talking points. And let’s not forget incidents like Rathergate, in which the Democrats demonstrated a propensity for forging documents for their advantage.
In short, the Democrats have more to gain by circulating such a memo than the Republicans do by forging one. Occam’s Razor, and his aftershave too. If I see something substantial that proves it was a fake, fine, but until then I have no reason to believe that the Republican had need to risk such an action, and plenty of reason to believe that the Democrats did.