The Washington Post

Michele Bachmann’s bizarre attack on Obama and Obamacare

GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann is surging in the polls, but that apparently hasn’t made her more cautious about saying bizarre things. The latest is Bachmann’s allegation that President Obama secretly wants Medicare to go broke so that — I’m not making this up — he can force senior citizens onto “Obamacare.”

It’s a measure of how warped the right’s conception of the 2010 health-care law has become that Bachmann wasn’t laughed off stage. Obamacare, after all, is a system in which Americans who aren’t eligible for Medicare purchase coverage from private companies, with support from the federal government for those who need it. What does that resemble? GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicare itself — to create a system in which elderly Americans also purchase coverage from private companies, with support from the federal government for those who need it. Bachmann voted for Ryan’s plan in the House. So did nearly every other Republican in Congress. In Bachmann’s mind, Obama might have a secret desire to move seniors onto a premium-support program. But in reality, her GOP colleagues have an overt one.

Bachmann’s speculation isn’t just hypocritical. It’s also illogical if you believe Obama is, as she has claimed, taking the country on “the final leap to socialism.” Ignore the Obamacare label; Bachmann is accusing the president of wanting to take seniors off socialized medicine and push them into the private market he has set up for everyone else. Rosa Luxemburg would be proud, indeed.

And, unless she is remarkably misinformed, Bachmann’s comments are cynical. The only way her words make any sense as criticism is if you keep just one simple equation in mind — Obamacare = bad — and think no further.

With Bachmann on the ballot next year, it seems we’ll see if shallow conspiracism really works in the GOP primary.

Update, 11:27 p.m.: Text slightly edited for clarity.

Stephen Stromberg is a Post editorial writer. He specializes in domestic policy, including energy, the environment, legal affairs and public health.
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