Two More Errors in Glenn Kessler’s Piece Gets 12 Pinocchios


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I wrote earlier today about Glenn Kessler making factual errors in his Medicare-for-All fact-checking piece. Kessler has since edited his piece to strip out his factual inaccuracies and added a note saying “This fact check has been updated.”

The Washington Post continues to host a video that contains the exact same factual mistakes that Glenn Kessler corrected in his piece. I have called for that video to be removed or similarly corrected, but so far it remains on the site broadcasting claims that Kessler himself acknowledges are false.

In the meantime, I have found two more mistakes in Kessler’s piece that also warrant correction. They are below.

New Mistake One: Apples and Oranges

Kessler writes:

Sanders has said his plan would cost $1.38 trillion a year, paid for in part with new taxes on employers and an income-based premium, but under Blahaus’s [sic] analysis it would be closer to $3.3 trillion.

The $1.38 trillion figure comes from Gerry Friedman’s paper published during the 2016 presidential campaign. The problem with Kessler’s citation of it here is that this figure is estimating a completely different quantity than the $3.3 trillion figure it is being compared to.

There are two specific problems with this apples-to-oranges comparison, one that is relatively minor but another that is so bad that it, once again, deserves a correction.

The relatively minor problem is that Friedman’s $1.38 trillion figure is for the years 2017 to 2026. But Blahous’s figures are for the years 2022 to 2031. Moving the window 5 years forward is necessarily going to make all the figures much higher.

The major problem is that Friedman’s estimate is for new public spending on Medicare-for-All. I confirmed this with Friedman today. But Blahous’s figures are for new federal spending on Medicare-for-All. Under Medicare-for-All, state-level Medicaid expenditures will shift to the federal government. This will not represent new public spending, but it will represent new federal spending.

Saying that Blahous estimates Bernie’s plan will cost $3.3 trillion while Bernie estimates it will only cost $1.38 trillion without acknowledging that these two figures represent completely different quantities (the former federal spending, the latter public spending) is totally misleading to readers and makes it seem like the two estimates are further apart than they actually are.

This clearly deserves a correction that explains that these two figures are not an apples-to-apples comparison.

New Mistake Two: Kessler Misspells Name

Kessler spells the name of Charles Blahous as “Blahaus” multiple times in his piece. But it is spelled “Blahous” not “Blahaus.”