Newsweek's Jonathan Alter: Conservatives Need to Stop the 'BS' of Calling Obama's Plan 'Socialized Medicine'

Left-wing talk show host Ed Schultz guest-hosted MSNBC’s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday night (could it be a tryout for that fourth spot in the ultraliberal MSNBC evening batting order after Maddow?) In one interview, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter reminded all conservatives of a certain age how eager he is for socialist health care, just as he was for Hillary’s plan the last time around. The first symptom? Deny the reality in front of everyone’s face, that somehow he and the Democrats don’t favor having the government run everything:

ALTER: First of all, nobody‘s talking about a government-run system. As John Podesta just indicated, if you‘re happy with your private health insurance, you‘re going to be able to keep it, no matter what comes out of this Congressional process. We need to stop stigmatizing, the name calling, the socialized medicine, the government-run programs. All that is just BS. This is—

(CROSS TALK)

ALTER: This is about a compromise that‘s going to offer a lot more choices. It is going to be expensive. But the question is whether it‘s more expensive to have the status quo. And health care experts on the left and the right believe that to be the case. That‘s why we‘re ready for change.

"Health care experts on the right" are not going to favor a more-government solution, so Alter should cut out the pretense that Obama’s going to generate some "purple" compromise on health care. Once again, the liberals get angry when someone starts calling it socialism, no matter how comfortably the shoe fits. He sounds like a Fairness Doctrine kind of guy when he insists "We need to stop letting the other side call it something stigmatizing."

Alter doesn’t want to acknowledge that countries with socialized medicine don’t offer "a lot more choices." Governments tend to restrict the amount of choices – which is why their patients come to America instead of waiting in line for months or years.

Earlier in the interview, Alter was clear in his opinion that government was more efficient than those private insurance companies:

SCHULTZ: Jonathan Alter, can President Obama get bipartisan help on this to get something done this year?

ALTER: Yes. I do think you‘re going to see health care legislation this year. Just to correct something Lars [Larson] just said, you know, it sounds counter-intuitive that the government could do anything right. We‘ve just been through a 25-year period where the ruling ideology was if the government does it, they must be messing it up. Actually, if you look at the history of Social Security and Medicare, runs much more efficiently than when the insurance companies take their huge cuts of all this.

Jonathan Alter is "idealistic" enough to think government somehow doesn’t take "their huge cuts" out of health spending. Anyone who wants a clear idea of Alter’s views on insurance companies should see his quotes from the last time around: he wants them put out of business.

Alter won our "Dr. Kevorkian Award for Health Reporting" in 1993 for this doozy in a Newsweek column:

"But Hillary was smart to rip their heads off....After all, she's right substantively: the [health insurance] industry has `brought us to the brink of bankruptcy,' it does `like being able to exclude people from coverage, because the more they exclude, the more money they can make.' No other industrialized country puts up with useless paper shufflers taking such a large cut of their health budgets...And she's right tactically: if health-care reform is to live, the companies backing Harry and Louise must die. If 90 percent of those 1,500 insurers don't die -- if someone lifts the DO NOT RESUSCITATE sign off them -- then the entire reform contraption will collapse." -- Newsweek media critic Jonathan Alter on insurance industry's "Harry & Louise" ads, November 15, 1993.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis