Texas Republican Fails Basic Math

Rep. Pete Sessions, a Republican congressman from (of course) Texas, took to the House floor on Tuesday to show off his elite mathematical skills. Apparently his cell phone doesn’t even have a calculator because he got this one wildly off the mark while trying to make a political point:

“If you just do simple multiplication, 12 million [insured individuals] into $108 billion, we are talking literally every single [Obamacare] recipient would be costing this government more than $5 million per person for their insurance. It’s staggering….$108 billion for 12 million people is immoral. It’s unconscionable.”

Glenn Kessler notes that he’s wrong in premise, conclusion and basic math:

First of all, let’s start with the numbers that Sessions cited on the floor. He claimed that the cost of insuring 12 million people would be $108 billion. Then he did some “simple multiplication” and came up with a figure of $5 million per newly insured person.

Actually, if you divide $108 billion by 12 million, you end up with $9,000 a person. That’s a pretty big difference. We might understand why $5 million would be “immoral” or “unconscionable,” as Sessions thundered in his speech, but it turns out to be less than 1/500th of that amount.

None of Sessions’ numbers make much sense, however. The Congressional Budget Office, in a March report, said that the cost of coverage in fiscal 2016 for Obamacare (in the exchanges and Medicaid expansion) would be $95 billion, after penalty payments and other revenue. But the reduction in the number of uninsured Americans would be 23 million people.

So if you do the math correctly, that’s a cost of $4,130 per uninsured individual in 2016. So that’s less than half the figure that would have resulted from properly dividing Sessions’ numbers.

So he contacted Sessions’ office for an explanation and he still got the math wrong:

After we contacted Sessions’ office and asked for an explanation, the lawmaker called The Fact Checker and said he had gotten his numbers mixed up. He said that he meant to say that Obamacare had cost $1.2 trillion over the past three years, and yet had only covered 20 million people. (He noted that he is not counting revenues that offset some of the cost.)

That would be $60,000 an insured person.

Must be some of that creationist math they teach down in the Lone Star state.

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  • anubisprime

    You can lead a dumbfuck to a maths book… but you can’t make him understand what to do with it!

  • anubisprime

    I thought these bozos had staffers that fact check claims and numbers in speeches and provide structure to a rant and rave to specifically avoid embarrassing gaffes…

    Is it that no one really wants the job of hand holding an imbecile with challenges…or does Mr ‘Calculate’ think he is brilliant enough to fly solo?…if the latter someone should really tell him it is a fail…

  • themadtapper

    That’s just too depressing to even make a sarcastic comment about. That’s not even a matter of misrepresenting seemingly legitimate numbers; he’s just plain pulling numbers out of his conservative butthole. And not a single one of his followers will bat an eye. They’ll eat that shit up.

  • busterggi

    Well he is from Texas where counting to three is considered advance math.

  • Larry

    Sessions should start doing his arithmetic using his fingers instead of pawing at the floor with his feet. In horses, its a neat trick. Congressmen, not so much.

  • Larry

    Well he is from Texas where counting to three is considered advance math

    Or black magic.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    @anumbisprime

    They don’t use fact checkers because they aren’t necessary. As long as what Sessions says reinforces the narrative that his followers believe in, it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not.

    I propose this motto: Tribe ante veritate!

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    It’s also wrong to assume that the costs of Obamacare apply only to insuring people who previously didn’t have insurance. It lowers the cost of insurance for millions who already had it and/or it improves coverage for people who had substandard insurance that promised to bankrupt them if anything serious happened. And it includes funding for a wide variety of programs to improve the health care system and reduce cost inflation.

  • Drew

    umm…

    So he contacted Sessions’ office for an explanation and he still got the math wrong:
    After we contacted Sessions’ office and asked for an explanation, the lawmaker called The Fact Checker and said he had gotten his numbers mixed up. He said that he meant to say that Obamacare had cost $1.2 trillion over the past three years, and yet had only covered 20 million people. (He noted that he is not counting revenues that offset some of the cost.)

    That would be $60,000 an insured person.

    Must be some of that creationist math they teach down in the Lone Star state.

    $1.2trillion/20million is $60,000. I mean there’s the problem that he’s using the wrong numbers because he’s failing to account for revenues that significantly reduce that $1.2t price tag, like reduce it an order of magnitude; but if you use his numbers (the set contained here), the division, at least, is correct…

    It appears, though, that he actually seems to have completely changed what his statistics are supposed to be showing: he went from talking about what it will cost next year while he was on the floor, to what it’s supposed to have cost over the last 3 years in the response, he doesn’t appear to have changed the denominator appropriately however.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Probably he wasa using the traditional British definition of billion, which is 1000 times higher than the American definition. So you see, it’s not that’s he’s bone stupid, it’s that he’s too cultured for his own good.

  • D. C. Sessions

    First off: no relation. Really.

    Secondly, it’s important to understand that at least since Paul Ryan became the Party’s “numbers whiz” [1] math has had a decidedly liberal bias.

    [1] Or perhaps since Art Laffer.

  • dingojack

    ArtK – ‘Tribus ante veritas’.

    Dingo

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    @9:

    $1.2trillion/20million is $60,000. I mean there’s the problem that he’s using the wrong numbers because he’s failing to account for revenues that significantly reduce that $1.2t price tag, like reduce it an order of magnitude…

    But if his point is that the money is being spent wastefully, it would be valid not to count the new revenues. If it really did cost $60,000 per year to insure each new person, it wouldn’t be any less ridiculous just because we have new taxes and offsets to pay for it.

    The problem is that even with his “correction” he’s exaggerating the cost by a factor of at least 5 and tallying up 3 years worth instead of looking at a single year. As the Fact Checker piece notes, if you do it correctly you get $4500 per newly insured citizen per year, which is a fucking bargain even before considering that much of that money is going to other worthwhile things.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    @dingojack

    Thanks for the correction. That’s what happens when you trust an online translator. (My Latin-student son is traveling and I couldn’t check with him.)

  • 4ozofreason

    The sentence explaining that it’s still only $60,000 is coming from the writer of the article, not the congressman. Presumably, he was offering the new numbers as how he arrived at five million per person, but, as the author points out, is still incorrect.

  • abb3w

    So, not counting revenue offsets of costs, and expressing the cost as total rather than annualized.

    Lies, damn lies….

  • raven

    The CBO has the ACA saving the feds $21 billion a year.

    1. There are costs with the ACA.

    2. There are also savings with the ACA. They more than balance each other out.

    3. As part of the ACA, Obama also extended the solvency of Medicare by 6 years. This is gigantic. Given the political planning horizon of a maximum of 2 years, 6 years is close to infinity.

    Looks like Rep. Sessions is another victim of Fundie Xian Induced Cognitive Impairment. The evidence that this is a real syndrome is overwhelming.

  • eric

    After we contacted Sessions’ office and asked for an explanation, the lawmaker called The Fact Checker and said he had gotten his numbers mixed up.

    That’s no excuse. If someone writes you a talking point in which they have 1E11/1E7 = 5E6, and you speak that point claiming you are doing “a little simple math,” then you are lying and ignorant. You clearly haven’t done any math at all, because if you had, you would’ve noticed your speech-writer’s error.

  • Drew

    The sentence explaining that it’s still only $60,000 is coming from the writer of the article, not the congressman. Presumably, he was offering the new numbers as how he arrived at five million per person, but, as the author points out, is still incorrect.

    Oh I see.

  • vereverum

    Tribus ante veritatem.

  • grumpyoldfart

    In Australia our politicians make up the figures while they are speaking in the House. Then their assistants go back to the office, get the correct figures and give them to the Hansard reporters who make the appropriate changes before the report is published. The general public listening to the broadcast is told a lie but the politician never has to answer for that lie because the ‘official’ record will eventually show that the figures were correct.

    For those who don’t know:

    Hansard is the name given to the edited transcripts of debates in the Senate, House of Representatives, Federation Chamber and parliamentary committees. They are published shortly after the chamber or committee proceedings have concluded. (my bold)

    http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Hansard

  • dingojack

    In that case: ‘tribum ante vertiatem’

    Surely?

    Dingo

  • vereverum

    Tribus nominative singular

    ante preposition with accusative

    veritatem accusative singular (object of ante)

    venit implied verb 3rd singular

    .

    I don’t know if magistramarla reads this blog, but they’d be the final authority.

  • frankgturner

    @ Dingo, Artk, and vereverum

    I would add something to it to make it accurate.

    Tribum ante vertiatem, fides ante factum…

  • dingojack

    ‘venit’? Surely the 3rd person plural would be better? [‘veniunt’]

    How about ‘Veritas ad tribubus accomodant’ (the truth to the tribe they fitted)?

    Happy?

    :) Dingo

    ———–

    Curiously I found, by complete accident (yer Honour), ‘tribas‘ [from the Greek ‘τριβάς’, rubbing] which was described as: “a woman who practises lewdness with women”*, so I’m guessing (female) homosexuality wasn’t invented out of whole cloth in the 1960’s then…

    * Phaedr. 4, 14, 3; Mart. 1, 91, tit.; 7, 67, 1; 7, 70, 1; Cael. Aur. Tard. 4, 9.

  • Artor

    Hey, all you Mooslim immigrant traitors with your foreign gibberish! Go back to Latin America and lay off that great American hero Sessions! Dont’cha know, math is a liberal conspiracy, and those “numbers” were invented by Ay-rabs who just hate us for our freedumb?

  • dingojack

    Or (as liberalz might say):

    “Hey, omnes Mooslim immigrant proditores cum ceteris alienum? Revertere in America Latina heros sessiones, et secetur magna! Dont’cha scire, a math est liberalis coniurationis, et eos “numeros” Ay-rabs inventæ sunt qui oderunt nos quia iustus noster freedumb?”

    😉 Dingo