CBS Airs 'Reality Check' on Obama's False Claim Health Plan 'Deficit Neutral'

Reality catches up with CBS News which on Tuesday night ran a “Reality Check” story on how a new CBO report shows President Obama's claim that his government-expansion health care plan won't hike the deficit doesn't match reality. So, will ABC News display similar skepticism when it broadcasts GMA and World News from the White House next Wednesday, culminating in a prime time hour, “Questions for the President: Prescription for America”? (ABC's Jake Tapper on Monday night briefly cited the CBO report, but ABC and NBC were silent on Tuesday evening.)

Fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor announced “there are growing concerns that President Obama lacks a realistic plan to pay for this sweeping reform.” Reporter Wyatt Andrews related “how the nation really pays for health reform just got a shocking wake-up call. The Congressional Budget Office, CBO, said Senator Ted Kennedy's health care proposal could cost one trillion dollars over ten years, and 36 million Americans would still be uninsured.” Andrews proceeded to note how Obama “claims he can achieve reform without raising the deficit,” but, he asserted, “the fact is, this means raising taxes.” Andrews also pointed out that Obama's “more than $600 billion worth of spending cuts” to Medicare and other programs don't comport with inevitable resistance from hospitals.  

Online, the CBSNews.com headline over the Andrews story presumes Obama's plan is necessary: “How Will We Pay For The Health Care Plan?


Glor set up the report by maintaining “we always knew overhauling our health care system would not be cheap.” Who is the “we”? Not CBS. Back on Thursday, March 5 when Obama held a dog and pony show at the White House, CBS drunk the kool-aid. Anchor Katie Couric: “President Obama says you can't fix the economy without fixing the health care system. And today, he brought dozens of experts to the East Room to talk about his prescription for change. Here our chief White House correspondent, Chip Reid.”

Reid portrayed Obama's efforts as a way to reduce costs:

REID: ...In 2008, national spending on health care totaled $2.4 trillion. Over the next decade, costs are expected to explode at about 6 percent a year with total spending soaring to $4.4 trillion in 2018.

OBAMA: If we don't tackle health care, then we're going to break the bank.

REID: Just ask Michael Anderson, owner of wagon work body shop in Northern Virginia...
For a full rundown of the sycophantic coverage that night, check: “Friendly Network TV Reception for Obama's Health Care 'Fix.'”

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Tuesday, June 16 CBS Evening News:
JEFF GLOR: We always knew overhauling our health care system would not be cheap, but today we learned more about the staggering sums involved – at least a trillion dollars over the next ten years, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. And there are growing concerns that President Obama lacks a realistic plan to pay for this sweeping reform. Details now from Wyatt Andrews in tonight’s “Reality Check.”

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): How are we going to pay for that, Mr. President?

WYATT ANDREWS: That one question, how the nation really pays for health reform, just got a shocking wake-up call. The Congressional Budget Office, CBO, said Senator Ted Kennedy's health care proposal could cost one trillion dollars over 10 years, and 36 million Americans would still be uninsured.

SENATOR CHRISTOPHER DODD (D-CT): It's a preliminary set of numbers.

ANDREWS: Democrats called the numbers inconclusive. Even the CBO called its own report incomplete. But the sheer magnitude of what Congress is considering is undeniable.

ERIC CANTOR, HOUSE REPUBLICAN WHIP: The news yesterday from the CBO is the turning point in the health care debate.

ANDREWS: So what will health reform cost? The President has also estimated one trillion dollars-

BARACK OBAMA: -and will be deficit neutral-

ANDREWS: -and claims he can achieve reform without raising the deficit. The fact is, this means raising taxes. And where the President claims he can raise $267 billion by limiting the tax deductions of high-income wage earners, the fact is, most of Congress opposes this idea.

JONATHAN OBERLANDER, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA CHAPEL HILL: And if they're unwilling to do that, they're going to have to pick an option that has other political difficulties. And so the question is which kind of poison do they want to drink?

ANDREWS: The President has also outlined more than $600 billion worth of spending cuts, some of which cut Medicare payments to hospitals. Last month, the hospitals claimed at the White House they would support billions in savings, the fact is, they now, say, they never meant cuts, that payment cuts are not reform. What's coming and very soon is a dog fight over that trillion dollars, and every interest group that promised to compromise to achieve health care reform will be arguing someone else should go first. Wyatt Andrews, CBS News, Washington.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center