Glenn Kessler is up to his old tricks of making no sense whatsoever in his coverage of Medicare for All. Why the Washington Post allows a man so clearly out of his depth to flail around on this subject is beyond me. Is it sadism? Apathy? Something more sinister? Hard to say.

The recent screw up in the saga is an interesting one because it reveals Glenn’s inner struggles to grapple with his past mistakes. He will never admit the mistakes because he is fundamentally a dishonest operator. But when reality reveals the mistakes again and again, occasionally you have to say something just to muddle through.

In Kessler’s latest piece, he tries to fact-check a USA Today op-ed published by Donald Trump. Trump writes at one point:

Dishonestly called “Medicare for All,” the Democratic proposal would establish a government-run, single-payer health care system that eliminates all private and employer-based health care plans and would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years.

In response, Kessler writes:

Trump correctly notes that studies have estimated that the program — under the version promoted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — would add $36 trillion in costs to the federal government over 10 years.

The first thing you’ll notice here is that Kessler wrote “$36 trillion” where Trump wrote “$32.6 trillion.” But this is not the big point. It’s just Kessler’s usual sloppiness, similar to how he misspelled names in his prior piece on this subject.

The big point here is that Kessler is saying that Trump is right when he cites the $32.6 trillion estimate from the Mercatus study published in June this year. Yet, when Bernie Sanders, Andrew Gillum, and Alexandaria Ocasio-Cortez cited the exact same estimate from the exact same study, Kessler gave them 3 out of 4 Pinocchios on his inane truthfulness scale.

Why the difference in treatment? How can Trump be correct when citing the estimate, but progressive candidates be lying when citing it?

Well basically what happened is that when Mercatus put out its estimate, it only focused on how much Medicare for All would increase federal expenditures. It concluded that the increase would be $32.6 trillion between 2022 and 2031. But that same estimate showed that overall health expenditures, which is what really matters, would fall by over $2 trillion over the same period. Naturally, the progressive candidates highlighted the $2 trillion in savings, as that is the figure that actually matters and because that is a key part of the case for Medicare for All as they see it.

The Mercatus Center, which is funded by right-wing money, got angry that people were talking about how their study showed Medicare for All would save money overall. And so they told Kessler that these claims were false. Kessler, who remember is a dishonest player who also has no subject-matter knowledge, then wrote his 3-Pinocchio piece just repeating what the Mercatus people told him to say. His piece made the preposterous claim that the $32.6 trillion estimate was somehow not the real estimate, and that the real estimate was instead a $38 trillion figure that the report author put in the appendix of his report and explicitly says in the report text is not based on Bernie’s bill.

But now Kessler is faced with the literally everyday reality that all Republican ads and writings on the subject are citing the $32.6 trillion figure. Somehow not a single person in Republican land got the memo that the real estimate of the report is not the one in the abstract and main body of the report, but is instead the one in the appendix of the report, this being the crazy theory Glenn Kessler floated out to call progressive candidates citing the report liars.

Kessler’s apparent strategy for muddling through this mess he has caused is now to say that the $32.6 trillion estimate is the true one and that when every Republican attack ad and opinion piece cites it, they do so honestly. Yet he does this without ever correcting his old pieces calling progressive candidates liars for citing the same estimate.

If Kessler wants to be an honest person on this subject, then he has a clear choice to make here. He can either change his most recent piece saying Donald Trump was correct to cite the $32.6 trillion estimate and instead bizarrely claim Trump and every single other Republican is dishonestly low-balling the cost or he can change his old piece and finally admit, as is absolutely obvious to anyone at this point, that the $32.6 trillion estimate (which also shows $2 trillion of savings overall) was the real finding of the report and that it is not dishonest for progressives to say that.

If he wants to continue to be dishonest on it, then he’ll keep up the incoherent nonsense where the Mercatus report is somehow true when Republicans cite it, but false when progressives do so. I think I know which road he’ll take, but we’ll see.