Is everyone in the news business a frustrated mind reader? Given their often demonstrated tendency to tell us what politicians think, we might believe this to be the case.
The NYT was doing some mind reading in its coverage of the vice presidential debate when it told readers:
"Mr. Ryan believes competition will drive down the cost of health care, keeping the voucher’s value up to date."
("Up to date" in this context means large enough to cover the cost of a Medicare equivalent policy.) Of course the NYT gives no explanation of how it knows what Ryan "believes" about the effectiveness of competition in keeping costs down. The very next sentence in the article reports the assessment of the Congressional Budget Office:
"The Congressional Budget Office projected that over time, the value of the voucher would erode, shifting the extra costs to seniors."
So does Ryan have access to information that the Congressional Budget Office does not have? Does he have a different way to interpret the data? After all, we have more than a half century of experience with the private insurance market, including experiments with including private insurers in Medicare. This experience has shown that private insurers raise, not lower, costs.
In the absence of any evidence otherwise, we might reasonably conclude that Representative Ryan wants to cut the cost of Medicare in order to maintain lower tax rates. We might also conclude that Ryan wants to give money to insurers who would profit enormously from the voucher system that he has proposed. The insurance industry is a major contributor to the Republican party.
It would of course be irresponsible for the NYT to report as a fact that Ryan is pushing his voucher plan as a way to redistribute tax dollars to the insurance industry. It is similarly irresponsible to report as a fact that he believes that his voucher plan will reduce costs.