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Op-Ed: Inconvenient Truths of History | Batavick

Frank J. Batavick | CNBNewsnet

You can call it misinformation, spin control or propaganda. Regardless, there are things that Unknown some people insist on believing that collide with the inconvenient truths of history.

The assertion that this nation was founded on Christian principles flies in the face of the fact that many of our founders were Deists and not pure-bred Christians. Thomas Paine, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen, and James Monroe may have been baptized into the Anglican Church, but as contemporaries during the Age of Enlightenment, they adopted a belief in the primacy of human reason. For them God or Divine Providence represented a supreme being who created the universe but then stepped back, much like a clock-maker. This God also handed down no text of revelation to us to guide our lives. In fact, Jefferson cut and pasted together his own version of the New Testament. It survives today as the Jefferson Bible and includes much of Jesus’ wisdom and proverbs but none of the miracles, has no mention of the supernatural, and ends before the Resurrection. I may not agree with him, but to Jefferson Jesus was merely a Jewish Plato.

Another fallacy is that today's income tax rates on the wealthy are much too high and raising them would hurt the economy. During the early 1960s, the marginal tax rate for a married couple filing jointly with an income over $400,000 was 91%. The economy and stock market boomed and the middle-class grew. In 2013 this same tax category carried a marginal tax rate of 35% and we have nowhere near a booming economy, but a shrinking middle class and growing income inequality. Furthermore, the redistribution of wealth through taxes was a basic tenet of the founding fathers, and they would not be pleased with our current system. In 1785 Jefferson wrote to James Madison, "Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise."

The safety net provided by Democratic social programs has not proved the ruination of the republic. We’ve had many slanders thrown at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and they echo the old smears against Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Alf Landon, FDR’s Republican challenger in the 1936 election, vowed to repeal Social Security and branded it “the largest tax bill in history.”

In the long run-up to the passage of the Social Security Amendments of 1965 which created Medicare and Medicaid, Ronald Reagan called such legislation “socialized medicine” and warned that “one of these days we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.” Seniors, remember these baseless, fear-mongering attacks the next time you receive a Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid payment.

And now we have the ACA. We were told that no one would sign up, but today millions more Americans have medical coverage as a result of Obamacare, and the uninsured rate is the lowest in history. Critics called the act a jobs killer, but since it was passed the unemployment rate has dropped considerably and as many as 90 new health care service companies have sprung up.

We were also told that the ACA would drive insurers out of the marketplace, but the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform reported that 56 new insurers entered the market in 2015.

The GOP claimed the ACA would increase the deficit, but we remain on track to have the smallest annual deficit in nine years.

Lastly, look around. There has been no federal takeover of the health industry and no death panels. Most people in private or employer-provided insurance plans have been little affected by the ACA. Still, there are things that some people insist on believing, even when they collide with the inconvenient truths of history. You might think they’d look it up.

Frank Batavick is a graduate of Gloucester Catholic (‘63) and La Salle University ('67) with over 40 years of experience as a television writer/producer/director for public TV and media companies in IN and NJ.  He has also served as adjunct faculty and visiting professor in Communications at colleges and universities in NY and MD. Frank now lives in MD with his wife Dori (GCHS, ‘63), where he is the vice chair of the Historical Society of Carroll County’s board of trustees, editor of the Carroll History Journal, and a weekly columnist and occasional feature writer for the Carroll County Times.

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