Friday, August 17, 2012

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Red Herring Example

Came across this clip on a couple of politically oriented blogs. Setting aside the politics (which I try to do with some degree of regularity), I found this to be a good example of the Red Herring fallacy (A red herring is an argument which is used to distract from the original issue by introducing some irrelevant issue or topic).

Blitzer starts by essentially repeating the point that Paul Ryan had made in a video which was played moments before this video starts.

He (Blitzer) says 'So the question is, just to be precise, he does call for dramatic changes for people 54 and under. But anyone who is 55 or older or any senior living in Florida right now they have absolutely nothing to worry about because if his plan were to be approved because it would not affect them at all. You accept that, right?"

Red Herring #1
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz responds by avoiding Blitzer's very specific question about anyone 55 or older having no change to their medicare with this amazing Red Herring: "No, Paul Ryan's views two years ago on Medicare and how we can shore it up and preserve it for future generations were extreme and wrong then and they're extreme and wrong now and made even worse by the fact that now they're in charge of the House of Representatives, and actually if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan became president and vice president of the United States, they would be able to end the Medicare guarantee, shred the health care safety net that Medicare has provided for more than 50 years, and turn Medicare into a voucher program, leaving seniors really out in the cold because as health care costs grow larger than the voucher provides, seniors wouldn't have enough money to cover their health care costs. And we know that the Romney/Ryan plan would increase Medicare premiums by $6,300 each year for seniors, Wolf, so.."

This probably normally works but today Blitzer feels like lighting up the grill. Blitzer trys to bring her back to the original question by saying: "But we're talking about, but he says there would be...he says he's not calling for any changes for anyone who is 55 or older including anyone who is on Medicare right now. Those changes, let's say I accept...Let's say we accept all those, the description you have of all of those changes, that affects people 10 years from now...let's say 65 or 67 when they're eligible for Medicare. But it doesn't affect anyone who is receiving Medicare right now or those who have 10 years to go, 55 and older.

Red Herring #2
Wasserman-Schultz responds "It certainly does and I'll tell you how...First of all, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan presume that the people who are younger than 65 years old who have spent decades in their (Blitzer corrects her and says 55) ok, so 55 and younger (Remember, the original point was regarding people 55 and older, not younger people. By talking about younger people she moves into her next Red Herring) We'll start with that age. Those people have spent decades paying into Medicare and because of the arbitrary cutoff of 55 years old that Romney and Ryan have established that means that we would no longer for those people have Medicare be a guarantee. Instead, we would shred that safety net. It would no longer be a guarantee. It would be a voucher. They'd pay more than $6,000 more in premiums to pay for their Medicare coverage and because health care costs often rise higher than that voucher would at a faster rate the voucher wouldn't provide for all the health care costs

The back and forth gets convoluted from here, so you can watch the video for the rest of it.

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