In a Friday piece of presidential protection prose promulgated by the Associated Press, writer Erica Werner correctly identified a number of significant "unfulfilled commitments" relating to proposed health care legislation, and then attempted to make excuses for why they didn't happen.
Werner's work was conveniently accompanied by a heavily downplaying headline -- "Final health bill omits some of Obama's promises" -- while her rundown of the specifics in reality ended up being "all but two":
It was a bold response to skyrocketing health insurance premiums. President Barack Obama would give federal authorities the power to block unreasonable rate hikes.
Yet when Democrats unveiled the final, incarnation of their health care bill this week, the proposal was nowhere to be found.
Democrats will be pointing to this preliminary CBO score as if it is engraved on stone tablets. Republicans will proclaim their respect for the CBO and proceed to argue that its estimates should not be taken too seriously in this instance. This may come as a surprise, but I think the Republican argument is closer to correct. To crow, as did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that the package is "a triumph for the American people in terms of deficit reduction" is premature at best, delusional at worst.
The mainstream media are carping about Bret Baier's "contentious" interview when in fact "he did nothing unlike what Tim Russert did in all the years that Tim Russert interviewed Republican presidents," argued Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell on today's "Fox & Friends." [MP3 audio available here; WMV format video available here]
Just as the late "Meet the Press" host would push interview subjects to reconcile contradictory positions, Baier asked the same of President Obama, who "showed up [to the Baier interview] prepared to give a speech with his talking points, which is what he always does and always gets away with" when interviewed by other journalists, Bozell noted.
Later in the interview, former Bush White House press secretary Dana Perino noted that Obama currently has a 46 percent approval rating and asked Bozell what the poll numbers would look like if the media were actually tougher on Obama.
"If the press were, not tough on Obama [but] fair, fair with this president... I think among other things, health care would be dead. This whole charade would be dead," Bozell concluded.
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "After more than a year of debate, Democrats say they're on the verge of passing historic health care legislation." And touted the massive legislation as fiscally responsible: "The government says the final version of the bill will cost $940 billion over ten years, but will reduce the projected budget deficit by $138 billion."
In a report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes gave a fully positive description of the legislation: "The final bill would extend coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured. It would close the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors by the year 2020 and it would penalize businesses with more than 50 workers if they don't offer insurance."
After Cordes's report, Rodriguez spoke with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who praised CBS's adherence to the Democratic Party line: "Maggie, what I think is that we have seen yesterday very important information from the Congressional Budget Office, which as you indicate and Nancy indicated, shows that we are doing exactly what we said we would do."
While a vote on health care reform legislation appears to be imminent, should it pass it could have broader economic implications, even if the bill itself won't take effect for some time.
As CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer predicted - if it passes, get ready to see a sell-off on Wall Street. Cramer appeared on CNBC's March 18 "The Kudlow Report," with his former broadcast partner Larry Kudlow. Kudlow asked Cramer to elaborate on his theory ObamaCare could send the financial markets reeling or "topple the stock market," as Kudlow described it.
"First, it is the single biggest impediment to the stock market going higher," Cramer said. "And a lot of this has to do with what's not being talked about enough with how it's going to be paid and also about what it will do to small business formation. This bill is a disaster for both."
As the Media Research Center's latest Media Reality Check details, over the past year, the media have served as cheerleaders for ObamaCare, praising the proposed legislation, while continually slamming its critics.
As Congress moves closer to a final vote on the bill in the coming days, it's a good time to take a look back at the friendly spin that has dominated the airwaves in support of it, as well as the harsh attacks that have been launched against its opponents.
Here is a video compilation with just a sampling of some of the slanted coverage from the past 12 months.
Yesterday the Associated Press and Newsweek latched onto a pro-ObamaCare letter circulated by a left-wing group and signed by 59 nuns. Today, liberal Washington Post columnist and practicing Catholic E.J. Dionne took to the op-ed page to encourage House Democrats to "listen to the nuns."
Dionne ably expressed the sentiments of perhaps many a liberal journalist giddy over the news:
House members voting on health care will be representing primarily their positions as Americans and as agents of their constituents, though many will also be influenced by their faith. Those with a special affection for the Roman Catholic Church have an extra reason for voting in favor of the health bill.
By passing it, they would save the bishops from the moral opprobrium that would rightly fall upon them if they succeeded in killing the best chance we have to extend health coverage to 30 million Americans. I suspect that many bishops would be quietly grateful. In their hearts, they know the nuns are right.
But today, National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez noted another group of nuns that probably won't get as much, if any, media coverage precisely because they stand with the nation's Catholic bishops with their concerns about inadequate protection for the unborn in the legislation before Congress.
Finally! A reporter who stands up to the media's Chosen One and isn't afraid to ask the tough questions.
Kudos to Bret Baier. He prepared for a difficult interview and came right out of the gate asking the questions that matter most to the millions of Americans protesting government takeover of health care. Other networks have had this opportunity in innumerable interviews, but Fox has proved itself to be the only network willing and capable of showing backbone and doing their journalistic duty.
How have the left-wing media reacted? While they should hang their head in humiliation for making the fair, hard questions in this interview monumental, they have instead criticized Baier's interview as ‘contentious,' as if it's unprofessional for a journalist to deviate from lapdoggery.
And we wonder why America has chosen Fox News Channel over the competition time and time again.
"Hot on the heels of Kucinich's declaration of support for health-care reform, the Associated Press is reporting that Catholic nuns are urging Democratic lawmakers to support health-care reform," Newsweek's Katie Connolly informed readers of the magazine's The Gaggle blog this morning.
"This is a major break with the church's bishops, who have strongly opposed the legislation on the grounds that some federal subsidies may end up funding abortions," Connolly gushed, later closing her blog post with the conclusion that "[a]t the very least, the letter damages the validity of [pro-life Democrat Rep. Bart] Stupak's argument."
Both Connolly's post and the underlying AP story failed to delve into this, but the letter in question was not simply cobbled together by apolitical nuns. It was pushed out to the media by a group with a left-wing agenda, reports CatholicCulture.org:
It's no shock to rational, thinking people that healthcare legislation currently before Congress will do nothing to halt rising insurance premiums, but that the folks at the Associated Press would come to such a conclusion AND write about it is quite surprising.
There it was in a piece published Wednesday called, "FACT CHECK: Premiums would rise under Obama plan."
Readers are strongly encouraged to fasten seatbelts tightly, for they're about to enter what has to be an alternate universe (h/t Ed Morrissey):
"[H]ypocrisy is a well-established parliamentary procedure," Tumulty noted in her March 17 Swampland blog post before contrasting the Hoyer of 2010 to the in-the-minority-party Hoyer of 2003 who decried "deem and pass" as "demeaning of democracy" and cautioned that its prior use should not excuse the practice in the future (emphases mine):
2010: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on the idea of passing health care with a self-executing rule:
The House Democratic leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer, also defended the maneuver on Tuesday. “It is consistent with the rules,” Mr. Hoyer said. “It is consistent with former practice.”
2003: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer complaining about the Republicans' use of self-executing rules:
But have the media completely dropped the ball and that is allowing those in power to circumvent constitutional process? According to Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., they have. She had some harsh words for the fourth estate on conservative talker Sean Hannity's March 16 radio show. (h/t Kevin Eder)
"Well yeah and the other thing is treason media," Bachmann said. "Where is the mainstream media in all of this not telling this story? This is a compelling story - that the Speaker of the House would even consider having us pass a bill that no one votes on?"
It's certainly not business as usual in Washington, D.C., but that's probably not what the American people had in mind when they elected President Barack Obama to come to the White House and usher in a new era of change.
"I think the process is well tainted by now," Hume said. "This is a case where in the face of a level of resistance that I have never seen before, in the sense on a bill that the sponsors continue to push, I've never seen anything pushed this far for this long in the face of such resistance of this size. This is unprecedented."
Michael Moore: crusader and "common-man" - with a net-worth in the range of $25-50 million, appeared on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" with fill-in Lawrence O'Donnell March 15, continuing to fight the good fight against capitalism and health insurance companies.
Moore predicted the Democrats' ObamaCare will pass, "But this bill, as good as many of the thing are in the bill, you know - young people can stay on their parent's insurance until 26, that's a great thing - it's a death sentence for literally tens of thousands of people who are going to get sick, or have been sick, and because of their preexisting conditions."
To Moore, the current health care reform proposal does not go nearly far enough. He favors a universal single-payer system that would effectively be a government take-over of one-sixth the economy.
Perfectly timed for the week President Barack Obama is pushing the House to vote on ObamaCare, on tonight’s (Tuesday) episode of CBS’s The Good Wife, set at a Chicago law firm, the lawyers “battle a health insurance company that refuses to pay for urgent in-utero surgery.” The CBS.com plug for the March 16 episode: “In an emergency courtroom set up in a hospital, Alicia and Will battle Patti Nyholm and an insurance company that refuses to pay for life-saving in-utero surgery.”
So, I’ll hold out hope this episode will deliver more than just simplistic vilification of an insurance company and might, given the plot involves “in-utero surgery,” also forward pro-life perspectives. Watch and see.
The Associated Press's timing couldn't have been better for those who still want to pretend that Social Security is really not in serious trouble. Stephen Ohlemacher's item ("Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs") originally appeared on Sunday, in the midst of most of the major college basketball conference tournament championships, then followed by the evening's announcement of the selections for the NCAA Division I Men's basketball tournament. (The AP has issued minor revisions several times since its original appearance, up to and including today.)
The wire service's timing, while convenient for the Washington establishment, as it minimizes the possibility of distractions from its statist health care obsession, couldn't have been worse for those of us who wish the American people would get a grip on the gravity of the situation -- which is why I saved this post for today.
What is about to occur is the event that as little as a year ago, according to the Social Security Trustees' 2009 Report, wasn't expected to arrive until 2016. Ohlemacher tells us that it's right here, right now, and gets the reporting right until his seventh paragraph (bolds are mine):
And delivering that response was "The O'Reilly Factor" host Bill O'Reilly, who called his show "the signature broadcast" of the network. O'Reilly dismissed Raines as a lunatic. However he was also critical of The Washington Post for giving him an outlet to trot out his ranting.
"[I] think there is a more important thing in play here," O'Reilly said. "The Washington Post has given this guy Raines a big platform on Sunday, this coming Sunday, to print this nonsense and it is nonsense. If Raines were sitting here I could carve him up and he, Raines knows it."
But O'Reilly questioned why the Post had decided to give Raines the space in its upcoming March 14 issue to rip on his network. According to O'Reilly, this was an effort to rally the media for a last stand.
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship sure have something against health care insurance companies and the Chamber of Commerce. Moyers, the liberal host of PBS’s “Bill Moyers Journal,” and Winship, the show’s senior writer, slammed both for making money and lobbying in the March 12 Huffington Post article.
The article, “Ask the Chamber of Commerce: Why Is Too Much Not Enough?” was a long complaint about “the health care industry saying to hell with consumers and then hiking premium….” They continued whining and wrote, “This week, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the health insurance industry's lobby, announced they'd be spending more than a million dollars on new television ads justifying their costs.”
So much for the MSM refrain about Republicans having previously used reconciliation just as Dems are proposing to do now on ObamaCare . . .
Larry O'Donnell has emphatically proclaimed that the way Dems intend to use reconciliation is "unprecedented" and has "never, never, never" been so used before. O'Donnell's many off-his-meds rants notwithstanding [recent example here], he actually does understand the legislative process, having served as Dem Chief of Staff of the Senate Committee on Finance back in the HillaryCare day.
O'Donnell also criticized the MSM "group think" to the effect that Dems were obliged to pass some kind of health care legislation this year. Larry's uncharacteristically lucid observations came during his Morning Joe appearance today. [H/t reader Mike K.]
One of the left's knocks on conservatives has been claiming they're demagogues that play on emotion to push a certain point of view. It's been said about Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the Tea Party movement.
However, HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" host Bill Maher doesn't seem to take issue with using trumped up emotions to push an agenda. The difference - he is approaching things from the opposite end of the ideological spectrum. Maher appeared on MSNBC's March 10 "Countdown" and defended his demand from his own March 5 program that President Barack Obama quit smoking. The reason - so he would get angry and use that emotion to promote his agenda.
"No, what I was - you know, the point of the rule was that when people quit smoking, they get angry," Maher explained. "And I like my president angry, because, you know, considering how much in this country people are poisoned, ripped off and lied to, we should all be angry, but especially that guy, who has to deal with Congress every day in trying to get this health care bill through and all that. And you know, I like him when he's out on the stump in a sort of a partisan mode. I think his biggest mistake, that he has made, in his first year, was to out put bipartisanship ahead of fixing the country. He spent all his political capital on getting three damned votes for that stimulus bill instead of coming in with all the energy from the election and saying, ‘You know what, we're in a crisis mode, I won this election by a sizable mandate, here's what we're going to do. If you don't like it, Republicans, you can suck on it.'"
When Michael Moore starts getting panicked, you know times are getting tumultuous for the left and the Democratic Party.
The anti-corporation, sometimes conspiracy theorist documentary filmmaker aired his frustrations about the current health care reform predicament. Congressional Democrats have gotten themselves into a mess with time running out as the midterm election cycle fast approaches and Moore said he was worried. According to Moore, who appeared on MSNBC's March 10 "The Rachel Maddow Show," if the Democratic Party doesn't make strides in getting their liberal agenda passed - it's bleak times ahead for them.
"Well, we see what it's led us to, to the fact that one out of eight homes now in America is in foreclosure or delinquency," Moore said. "One out of eight home and, of course, the millions that don't have health care and everything else it's - how do you get yourself out of bed every morning to do this show with just the despair of how - the hope that we all had a year, year and a half ago. And now it's like, I just feel like the Democrats are - they're in for an ass-whooping of Biblical proportions in November if they don't get off the dime and do the job they were sent there to do. I mean that. I mean, it - don't they see that?"
CNN's Jim Acosta omitted the left-wing affiliation of pro-ObamaCare protesters during a report on Wednesday's American Morning, referring to them as only "health care advocates and labor groups." Acosta, like his colleague Nancy Cordes at CBS, also highlighted child protester Marcelas Owens, and labeled him a "brave young man."
Kiran Chetry and John Roberts introduced Acosta's report, and the anchors also failed to mention the political bent of the protest, which was organized by the Health Care for America Now coalition (HCAN's members include the AFL-CIO, NAACP, and Planned Parenthood). Chetry remarked that "thousands though rallied in Washington against what they call 'insurance industry bullying.'" Roberts stated that the demonstration was "one for the books."
ABC and CBS on Tuesday night picked up on the cause of a small anti-health insurance industry protest in DC organized by left-wing labor groups, but instead of denigrating them as the networks did with much larger Tea Party and anti-ObamaCare rallies, the two newscasts empathized with their cause, each relaying an anecdote about a victim of the current system. Both ABC’s Jonathan Karl and CBS’s Nancy Cordes did, however, proceed to point out the small profit margin for health insurance companies.
“Taking their cue from President Obama, protesters took their complaints about insurance company premiums and excess profits to the insurance industry and the streets,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer announced. Karl noted the ideology of the “coalition of liberal groups” and recognized “the attacks are pretty harsh. They're accusing the insurance company CEOs of bribery, money laundering and manslaughter.” But he then showcased “Leslie Boyd, whose son Michael died of colon cancer after he couldn't get insurance or afford a colonoscopy.”
On CBS, Katie Couric set up the story on how “angry protesters targeted the insurance industry.” Cordes found “eleven-year-old Marcelas Owens” who “flew here from Seattle” because “his mother Tiffany lost her job and the health insurance that went with it after a prolonged illness caused her to miss work. She stopped going to the doctor and died at 27 of pulmonary hypertension.” The kid [in the screen capture] delivered a perfect soundbite: “She ended up passing away because she didn't have the equal rights to health care as some people with more money.”
What's a principled stance on the life of an unborn fetus if it means achieving the be-all and end-all victory for liberal ideologues - a government intrusion into health care? According to The Nation's Chris Hayes, it's just "one giant obstacle."
Hayes, filling in for Rachel Maddow on MSNBC's March 9 broadcast of "The Rachel Maddow Show," didn't seem impressed with Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. Stupak, who has a documented history of having a pro-life position on abortion long before so-called health care reform was even a possibility, has been taking heat from left-wingers in this political battle. But according to MSNBC, it's just his "15 minutes of fame."
"If health reform is finally going to happen this year, Democrats have one giant obstacle standing in their way, his name is Bart Stupak," Hayes said. "Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak from Michigan has threatened for the last week to pretty much anyone who will listen, to bring down the health reform bill if the anti-abortion language he prefers is not in it. And Bart Stupak says he's not just speaking for Bart Stupak. He is speaking for the Stupak dozen."
At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "President Obama makes a tough final push, going on the offensive against health insurance companies. Will it work?" Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez gushed: "It looked like a campaign rally yesterday with President Obama center-stage taking his fight for health care reform out of Washington and into America's heartland."
White House correspondent Bill Plante followed up Rodriguez's fawning intro by reporting: "It did indeed look like a campaign. I'll tell you, the President is racing hard to get across the finish line with health care reform. He's trying to convince the public to ignore what he calls 'Washington's obsession with keeping score in politics.'" An on-screen headline read: "Obama on the Offensive; Attacks Insurers In Latest Push for Reform."
Plante ignored the Obama administration's constant political score-keeping and instead lamented how despite the President "taking on the pundits and the political establishment...polls show Mr. Obama has an uphill battle." Plante cited a recent Gallup poll showing 49% of Americans oppose ObamaCare, though failed to point out that only 42% of respondents in that poll favored the plan.
On Thursday, the Early Show claimed that ObamaCare was on the "fast-track" to being passed.
Rush mentioned this on the air as his show opened.
It comes from the Associated Press, in a later paragraph of an Obama cheerleading item ("Obama pitches health plan in spirited appearance"; AP picture at right is from that story) by Julie Pace and David Espo.
The paragraph in question opens by giving readers the impression that either Pace, Espo, or another AP person has actually seen language in whatever iteration of ObamaCare happens to be floating around House chambers these days. But then it backs down and says it's only "described by a Democratic aide," meaning that the wire service is willingly serving as a trial-balloon enabler:
In a new change sought by House Democrats, the fix-it bill would require businesses to count part-time workers when calculating penalties for failing to provide health coverage for employees. Smaller businesses would be exempt. The Senate bill would count only full-time workers in applying the penalties, but under the change, described by a Democratic aide, two part-time workers would count as one full-time worker. Businesses say that's unduly burdensome, but Democrats contend it would prevent businesses from avoiding penalties by hiring more workers part-time.
Perhaps President Barack Obama might have preferred New York Times columnist Tom Friedman to reserve these comments for their golf outings together, but has Friedman recognized this path toward a larger government is unsustainable?
On MSNBC's March 5 "Morning Joe," host Joe Scarborough recounted his childhood in the early 1970s and the poor economy. He explained there was a different focus - that his family was hoping for the economy to turn around and could have cared less about the other issues of the day - Vietnam, Watergate, etc. It was all about the economy.
"You know Tom Friedman, I remember in the early '70s, my dad worked for Lockheed, got laid off and he was without a job for 18 months," Scarborough said. "This is in the middle of Watergate was blowing up on TV and in the middle of Vietnam, as it was grinding to a very bloody, messy ending. And my family, we just cared about one thing. When we watched Walter Cronkite at night, we wanted to know if the economy was turning around. And we didn't understand what was going on in the college campuses."
Sullivan did some number crunching and found that, due to concerns about a lack of a restriction on abortion spending in the Senate bill, Pelosi may end up being a few votes shy of the threshold to pass the legislation.
Sullivan's advice to the Speaker? She just needs to moderate her testy tone to dupe enough pro-life Democrats to voting for a bill that lacks the Stupak amendment which was passed in the House version of the bill (emphasis mine):
Introducing a story on the latest effort pass health care reform on Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "This morning President Obama is putting health care reform on the fast-track, declaring that it's year-long journey must be completed in Congress quickly."
At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith had similarly declared: "President Obama says the health care debate is over. He wants a reform bill on his desk in the next few weeks." A Headline on screen read: "Health Care Fast-Track."
White House correspondent Bill Plante reported on the so-called "fast-track" plan: "The President yesterday rejected Republican calls to start over, saying that it is time to make a decision on health care....he made it clear that he's willing to get this done with a legislative maneuver requiring no Republican support." At the end of his report, Plante acknowledged things weren't quite so simple: "this is by no means a done deal....Republicans united in opposition, Democrats wavering because of elections this fall."
Without big government, Americans are nossink, nossink—do you hear me!?
On his MSNBC show this evening, Ed Schultz bellowed that "small government has never gotten anybody any health care." Got that, you weak, dependent Americans? You are incapable of getting anything done for yourself. Only big government can save you.
Here's how Schultz denigrated the ability of Americans to fend for themselves.