Another Republican conspiracy nut rises to the fore—claims Covid-19 doctors were gaming the system.

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

We know of course that there’s no bottom to Trump’s ignorant cynicism, but the obsequious Republican senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, may find it before he does.


Tuesday at a campaign stop in Waterloo (Yes, Waterloo, let’s hope it’s symbolic), she agreed with an audience member who stated that the number of Covid-19 deaths was greatly exaggerated, adding, “these health-care providers and others are reimbursed at a higher rate if COVID is tied to it, so what do you think they’re doing?” It’s always the most dishonest people who believe everyone else is cheating them.

Ernst claims, with no proof, that there have been about 10,000 Covid-19 deaths, not 180,000.

She “heard it on the news,” which has the same credibility as Trump’s “everyone is saying saying.”

Since Ernst’s sun rises and sets on Trump’s sunset-yellow hair, we can’t be surprised when she supports his whims and fallacies, and this particular conspiracy theory has been popular for months among the prescient wizards of QAnon, the land where facts go to die.


But Ernst has added that darker, Trumpian touch—a belief that the medical professionals are also part of the deep state—faking Covid-19 patients so that they can work overtime and make more money. Maybe Ms. Ernst should ask health care workers like Diedre Wilkes and James Goodrich how that extra money is working out. Oh that’s right, she can’t. They died from that overhyped disease apparently trying to cheat the government out of a few bucks.


At times like this I doubt the existence of karma, and at the same time I’m ashamed to admit that I wish it did exist.

As for that extra money, what Ms. Ernst failed to mention is that the 20% increase doctors received for treating coronavirus patients arrived via the federal stimulus bill to compensate hospitals for quickly falling revenue as most Americans stayed home, and for the high costs of treating a patient with the virus. Doctors have said that reporting criteria remain strict and that nobody is exaggerating COVID-19 numbers; in fact, most experts agree that the 180,000-plus COVID-19 deaths in America isn’t an overcount but likely a vast undercount.

We’ll let the scholarly fact-finders at QAnon—the ones who pegged John F. Kennedy, Jr, as Trump’s new running mate—sort through the data.

In years past tabloids would dot the check-out counters in grocery stores, and people standing in line would scoff at the silliness. The stories centered on aliens and grisly crimes—sensationalism run amok and disguised as journalism. Any politician quoting from such an article would have been laughed out of office. Today’s Republican office-holders, currying favor with the president, refer them as if they were Pulitzer submissions.

And the president himself—it might have be lonely, scuttling across the depths looking for the true bottom where humanity is a quaint memory and only mistrust and misanthropy hold sway. It'll be having Joni Ernst to keep him company.

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