There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and Republican claims about health care.
O.K., it’s not news that politicians make misleading claims, some more than others. According to a running tally kept by Daniel Dale of The Toronto Star, as of Monday morning, Donald Trump had said 4,682 false things as president.
But G.O.P. health care claims are special, in several ways. First, they’re outright, clearly intentional lies — not dubious assertions or misstatements that could be attributed to ignorance or misunderstanding. Second, they’re repetitive: Rather than making a wide variety of false claims, Republicans keep telling the same few lies, over and over. Third, they keep doing this even though the public long ago stopped believing anything they say on the subject.
This syndrome demands an explanation, and I’ll get there eventually. Before I do, however, let’s document the things that make G.O.P. health care lies unique.
First, as I said, I’m not talking about mere dubious claims. When Trump officials insisted that the 2017 tax cut would lead to a decade of miraculous growth, their claim made no sense in terms of the underlying economics, and it flew in the face of decades of evidence. But it was a prediction, not a statement of fact, and it’s conceivable (barely) that Trump’s people actually believed it.
But when Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, went on TV Sunday to declare that “every single plan” Trump has put forward “covered pre-existing conditions,” that was