Betsy McCaughey built a career out of saying bombastic, completely false things about health care reform. She is reviled by actual health care policy analysts from the left, right and center for spreading frightening, but demonstrably false, misinformation while adopting the tone and posture of a serious expert.
In 1994, she claimed that Hillary Clinton’s health care reform plan would bar people from purchasing care outside the new Clinton system, which would cruelly ration treatments to curb costs. It wasn’t true. The magazine that published the article would later disavow it.
Here’s what she said about Obamacare in 2009:
“One of the most shocking things I found in this bill, and there were many, is on page 425, where the Congress would make it mandatory ― absolutely require ― that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner ... all to do what’s in society’s best interest or your family’s best interest and cut your life short. These are such sacred issues of life and death. Government should have nothing to do with this.”
Pretty scary! And totally untrue. Completely, 100 percent false. Zero correspondence with reality. But McCaughey’s nonsense took off. She made the same claim in op-eds for The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. When Sarah Palin picked up the idea, the mandatory meetings morphed into “Obama’s death panel.” Conservative media and Republican politicians went wild.
But it was all based on nothing. McCaughey’s influence enrages actual policy experts who read legislation and accurately dissect the implications of new programs. As the typically measured Ezra Klein put it in The Washington Post in 2009: “Betsy McCaughey is really just a horrible, evil, awful, lying person who wants to make the world worse for people because that’s her ticket to increased TV time. There’s no other way to put it.”
So it makes sense that Donald Trump just named McCaughey to his team of economic advisers.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump