A rising chorus of repeal-mongers, outraged at the Obama administration's federal health care power grab, took over Washington this week. Nope, it's not the tea party. It's Democrats Against the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Yes, Democrats.
What's IPAB? A Beltway acronym for subverting the deliberative process.
On Monday's Early Show, CBS's Susan Koeppen profiled a doctor who hyped that "people are dying because they don't have simple access" to health care and spotlighted two of his patients who chronicled their difficulties with the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Koeppen also failed to mention the liberal leanings of an organization she labeled as merely "an advocacy group for health care consumers."
Anchor Erica Hill introduced the consumer correspondent's report by noting that "a new proposal would cut reimbursement rates for doctors who accept Medicare by 30% in 2012...the potential cuts are raising concerns for the more than 100 million Americans who rely on the program, as well as the doctors who treat them." Koeppen then led her segment with Dr. David Ansell's "people are dying" clip and described how the Rush University Medical Center physician "has been treating patients who can't get help anywhere else."
In the run-up to the passage of Obamacare in March 2010, Nancy Pelosi infamously told a friendly audience: "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."
Fifteen months later, we still haven't learned everything about a bill which no honest congressperson or senator can claim to have read and fully understood.
Today's "discovery" is that some couples in their early 60s earning up to $64,000 a year can qualify for Medicaid. As has become establishment press custom since Obamacare's passage, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar at the Associated Press reports on the "anomaly," without getting to its root cause, namely that nobody who voted for the 2000-page legislation knew it was there:
Dennis Cauchon at USA Today has been one of a very few establishment press reporters willing to expose federal workers' disproportionate pay and benefits (previous examples here and here) as well as Uncle Sam's precariously dangerous financial situation.
Cauchon has two USAT items today on the latter topic (HT to NB commenter Gary Hall): "U.S. funding for future promises lags by trillions," which reports that federal obligations totaled $61.6 trillion as of September 2010, a $5.3 trillion increase from a year earlier, and "Government's Mountain of Debt," which itemizes those obligations by major source.
Unsurprisingly, 75% of federal obligations, or a combined $46.2 trillion (actually more, which will be seen at the end of this post), relate to Social Security and Medicare, which no one but a few deluded leftists believe (or pretend to believe) are sustainable in their current form. Unfortunately, at the end of his first story, Cauchon quoted one of them, Michael Lind, whom the USAT reporter described as "policy director at the liberal New America Foundation's economic growth program," who said the following:
BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- The extinct political slogan "As Maine goes, so goes the nation," may be supplanted by what is happening in the United Kingdom. There is a form of functional political illiteracy here that does not bode well for the United States should it follow Britain's very bad example, particularly on matters involving immigration and health care.
For several years, the British media have been full of horror stories about failures in the National Health Service (NHS). "Thousands of Elderly at Risk in Care Crisis" screamed the front-page headline in the Times of London last week. This is nothing new, because a headline in The Daily Telegraph nearly two years ago warned, "Cruel and Neglectful Care of One Million NHS Patients Exposed." Is anyone listening?
In late January (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how the Associated Press and the New York Times had been studiously avoiding covering the Obamacare waivers granted by Kathleen Sebelius's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Though I can't verify that the AP has ignored the issue since, it doesn't seem to have been a prominently covered item until today, when wire service reporter Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar ("Health care law waivers stir suspicion of favors") unsurprisingly weighed in for the defense.
In doing so, the AP reporter failed to note that the waiver process's arbitrary nature, which leaves plans at the tender mercies of HHS, is troubling even if the evidence of favoritism is not yet convincing (arbitrariness can also involve poor judgment even if politics aren't involved). He also failed to address those who contend that if Obamacare is such a good thing, why are companies and other entities having to scramble to avoid it? Finally, he failed to tell readers if any waiver requests have been turned down, and if so why.
Here are excerpts from Alonso-Zaldivar's report. Get a load of his third paragraph, where he dreams up excuses, and the final excerpted paragraph, where he all but admits that waivers in general are being granted for a very important political reason -- to prevent embarrassing Obama and the Democratic Party (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, new chairwoman of the DNC, falsely claimed Sunday that the Ryan Medicare plan would deny care to seniors with preexisting medical conditions and that all future beneficiaries of Medicare would be abandoned by the Ryan plan and have to buy their own insurance from a private company.
As reported by both FactCheck.org and Washington Post, both of her Democratic talking points are simply untrue. In reality, according to the two sites, the Ryan plan specifically says that insurance companies "must agree to offer insurance to all Medicare beneficiaries" and subsidizes future beneficiaries so they can buy private insurance through a Medicare exhange program set up by the government.
Read what Wasserman-Schultz had to say after the break, and let us know what you think in the comments.
In their coverage of Herman Cain's official announcement that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, Associated Press reporters Shannon McCaffrey and Greg Bluestein limited their description of Cain's tenure as chief executive of Godfather's Pizza to the following:
He worked at Coca-Cola, Pillsbury and Burger King before taking the helm of the failing Godfather's Pizza franchise, which he rescued by shuttering hundreds of restaurants.
That's all he did, eh? Guys, if that's all you could cobble together about Cain's time at Godfather's, you should have ended the excerpted sentence after "franchise" (for which a better word would have been "chain").
The AP pair also omitted a couple of key elements of Cain's resume, specifically his tenure as head of the National Restaurant Association and his involvement as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where he ultimately was elected chairman.
Here is a description of Cain's tenure at Godfather's found at a site called PizzaDominoes.com:
I think people are missing the main point of Obamacare's alleged "death panels": Obama has forfeited any claim to moral authority in pursuit of his so-called health care reform.
It is indisputable that the thrust of Obama's push for Obamacare was that too many Americans were being denied access to medical care, and that health care "should be a right for every American." He obviously believes insurance companies let his mother die in refusing to cover her medical bills because of her pre-existing condition.
Newt Gingrich came in for some serious criticism on today's Morning Joe.
Reacting to footage of Newt on Meet the Press alluding to Paul Ryan's health care proposal as "radical," Joe Scarborough accused Gingrich of being in "the mushy middle." Pat Buchanan came with the unkindest cut of all, saying Gingrich is "out on the left wing of the Republican party."
Saturday's World News on ABC highlighted complaints from Democrats about the Medicare reform plan proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan as the Wisconsin Republican seeks to restrain the growth of Medicare spending by having private insurers compete for seniors as customers.
Without delving into the Republican argument in favor of using private insurance, correspondent David Kerley recounted the complaints of angry constituents, showing clips of audience members shouting at Republican members of Congress during town hall meetings. Kerley concluded by passing on Democratic hopes of the Medicare plan being a political "gift" that would hurt Republicans. Kerley: "Democrats believe that Republicans have really handed them a gift with their vote to change Medicare. It's a vote that Democrats are already using in TV ads and fundraising calls as well."
Anchor David Muir then previewed an interview with Congressman Ryan for ABC’s This Week show and brought aboard This Week host Christiane Amanpour, who ended up referring to claimst that the Ryan budget proposal contains "drastic" cuts that other Republicans may need to back away from. After noting that Ryan is committed to the plan regardless of political consequences, Amanpour continued: "And many are now saying that perhaps the Republicans will start running away from the Ryan plan because of the drastic cuts he calls for in Medicare and Medicaid and other such programs."
Gosh, after Republican Governors Scott Walker and John Kasich succeeded in championing legislation curtailing many collective bargaining rights of unionized state and municipal employees in Wisconsin and Ohio, respectively, the establishment press had the meme all set. The GOP, conservatives, and Tea Partiers are enemies of labor and the middle class, while Democrats, liberals, and progressives are their champions.
Then along comes bluer-than-blue Massachusetts. As the Boston Globe reports, the Bay State's House "voted overwhelmingly last night (Tuesday) to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns." It's not a law yet, but it seems to be heading pretty quickly in that direction.
The Associated Press's beat reporters and editors must be beside themselves.
Martin Bashir has dared go where even most congressional Dems won't: praising Britain's National Health Service and by implication the socialization of medicine it represents.
On today's Morning Joe, Bashir said the National Health Service is "a wonderful idea." For good measure, the British-born Bashir, who hosts a regular afternoon slot in the MSNBC line-up, also vastly overstated the percentage of the British workforce employed by the government. He claimed that "over 40%" in the UK are "in the public workforce." In fact, as per this official-seeming website, the actual percentage as of last month was about half that, in the range of 20-22% [6 million public-sector workers out of a total workforce of 29 million].
Until now, MSNBC's "Lean Forward" ad campaign had largely avoided wearing the network's leftward slant as a badge of pride. Sure, there were hints here and there that "Lean Forward" really means "left-leaning," but the older ads were subtle compared to the latest batch which beat you over the head with their liberal take on major political issues.
For example, you can expect to see MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell in this spot lamenting that ObamaCare didn't go far enough to the Left:
Doing it's level best to push the meme that Planned Parenthood is a crucial provider of basic medical services for poor women -- and hence deserving of federal taxpayer support -- today's Washington Post devoted one-eighth of page A5 in today's print edition to a photo entitled "Relying on Planned Parenthood."
Depicted is a 24-year-old woman, one Minah Khan, having blood drawn "during a checkup at Planned Parenthood in Washington."
The repeal of Obamacare's nightmarish 1099 requirement has passed both chambers of Congress and is on its way to the President for his expected signature.
In reporting Tuesday on the repeal bill's progress, the Associated Press's headline writers assured readers that the original requirement in Obamacare was a "small" component of it. The AP's Stephen Ohlemacher also misstated current 1099 filing requirements, ignored the repeal bill's de facto tax increases (i.e., reductions of tax credits) that were crammed into the bill to "pay" for lost revenue that will supposedly result from repeal, and glossed over the fact that the requirement made it into law because almost no one read the Obamacare legislation in the first place. Other than that, the AP report isn't too bad. (/sarc)
Here are key paragraphs from Ohlemacher's report (bolds and number tags are mine):
In the 1965-1971 comedy series "Hogan's Heroes," prison guard Sergeant Schultz is a "bumbling, highly unmilitary 325-pound Sergeant of the Guard. Schultz is a basically good-hearted man who, when confronted by evidence of the prisoners' covert activities, will simply look the other way, repeating 'I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!'"
Reviewing past NewsBusters posts featuring or concerning newly selected chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz, we've already seen on several occasions that the Florida Congresswoman knows nothing concerning things with which she ought to be quite familiar. Schultz edged out the buffoon I would have preferred, the bumbling former governor of Ohio, "Turnaround Ted" Strickland, who was defeated by Republican John Kasich in November. Strickland thus became the first incumbent Buckeye State governor to be defeated in 36 years.
The most prominent example of Ms. Wasserman Schultz's ignorance came in a town hall meeting on April 5, 2010 which was noted by Matt Cover at CNS News and in an EyeBlast TV post at NewsBusters -- and of course ignored by the establishment press. Get a load of what the Congresswoman and her staff repeatedly claimed with a straight face:
New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner toasted the one-year anniversary of Obamacare this week — and accidentally spilled his champagne glass all over the disastrous, one-size-fits-all mandate. Ostensibly one of the federal health care law's staunchest defenders, Weiner exposed its ultimate folly by pushing for a special cost-saving regulatory exemption for New York City.
If it's good for the city Weiner wants to be mayor of, why not for each and every individual American and American business that wants to be free of Obamacare's shackles?
On the one-year anniversary of the health care law, MSNBC thought it fitting to bring on a boy who championed the bill and give him a platform. Anchor Andrea Mitchell hosted 12-year-old activist Marcelas Owens Wednesday and asked him questions with predictable answers to explain the case for the health care law.
Owens became famous last year for his public appearances to rally support for the health care overhaul. His mother had died of pulmonary hypertension in 2007 after she lost her job due to extended leave of absence. She was unqualified for Medicare or for health insurance. Owens used the tragedy to speak out in favor of universal health care.
Mitchell gave Owens a soft interview in what seemed a plug for the health care bill, given that she asked him to explain what could be done in the face of opposition "who don't understand the need for health care" and believe that "there isn't enough money" for universal health care. Of course, Republicans last year proposed health care reforms of their own but were largely ignored amidst the partisan Democratic push for the bill's passage.
In Wednesday's 12PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Contessa Brewer touted the one year anniversary of the passage of ObamaCare: "One year ago today, President Obama signed the health care reform bill into law. It wasn't soon enough for Eric De La Cruz, who needed a heart transplant." The headline on screen read: "Why We Need Health Care Reform: A Personal Story."
Brewer spoke with Eric's sister, Veronica De La Cruz, who serves as anchor of MSNBC's First Look at 5AM ET and NBC's Early Today at 4AM ET. Brewer observed: "It's got to be bittersweet, because you fought for health care reform in that process, but on this anniversary, it comes too late to help your brother." De La Cruz had no qualms about describing her enthusiastic lobbying for ObamaCare: "...it is bittersweet, you're right. But I made a promise to my brother....I started speaking out at health care rallies, vigils, anybody who would listen to Eric's story."
On Monday, in a story I will link after the jump, the Associated Press reported that on March 1 the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) dropped a lawsuit it initiated last year over the school district's refusal five years earlier to cover a prescription drug the union described as "an issue of discrimination, of equal rights for all our members” (that link will also appear after the jump).
So the questions submitted for our readers to ponder are these:
1) What drug was involved?
2) How much has the district spent defending itself against the lawsuit?
Thursday, the Associated Press's Matt Gouras "reported" ("Tea party vision for Mont. raising concerns") on legislative proposals in Montana. It got the attention of Rush Limbaugh, who skewered it as only Rush can.
Gouras's opening paragraphs read like a press release from an opposition party:
With each bill, newly elected tea party lawmakers are offering Montanans a vision of the future.
Their state would be a place where officials can ignore U.S. laws, force FBI agents to get a sheriff's OK before arresting anyone, ban abortions, limit sex education in schools and create armed citizen militias.
His third paragraph uses the "some people" tactic, which more often than not is AP code for "people I found who agree with me":
On Wednesday, the inarguably correct Mark Levin, aided by flashbacks to monologues earlier in the week, laid out in detail the rule of law standoff the Obama administration has created in choosing to defy Monday's federal court decision declaring Obamacare null and void and continuing its implementation as if the ruling doesn't exist.
In the process, he also ripped in to the clear establishment press double standard at work.
Choice excerpts follow (internal links added by me; bolds refer to media-related comments; the rest is important for grasping just how serious this is):
"If the majority [of the U.S. Supreme Court] agrees with [Judge Roger] Vinson, President Obama would find not only his health care bill undone, but also face the most significant scaling back of the government's power to use legislation to solve its problems in decades," Time's Michael Lindenberger warned in a February 2 post at the magazine's website.
To reach such a conclusion, however, Lindenberger must have misunderstood Vinson's ruling on Monday in State of Florida v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, which sought not to "turn back the clock" on commerce clause interpretation but merely prevent its overextension into an unprecedented and dangerous arena: forcing Americans to buy private health insurance under the flimsy illogic that such economic inactivity actually amounts to commercial activity.
"I am required to interpret this law as the Supreme Court presently defines it. Only the Supreme Court can redefine or expand it further," Vinson noted on page 43 of his 78 page opinion. The Reagan appointee noted that no less legislative authorities than the Congressional Research Service and the Congressional Budget Office have found Congress requiring Americans to purchase private health insurance under penalty of law to be "novel" and "unprecedented"
My guess is that U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson is an amateur zoologist. Vinson is the federal judge who ruled Monday in Pensacola, Fla., that those who confected Obamacare cannot compel the citizenry to buy health insurance. Moreover, he found that because the 2,600-page bill was created without any "severability clause," the entire law is unconstitutional. The authors of Obamacare declared that without mandatory insurance, the whole bill would have been unworkable. Mandatory insurance was not severable from the law. Hence Judge Vinson, because of the way the bill was constructed, threw the whole law out. Now it is up to the Supreme Court to breathe life into this legislation or to bury it. I say R.I.P.
As learned as Vinson indubitably is — in the course of his meditations on Obamacare, he reread the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, James Madison's notes at the Constitutional Convention, certain cogitations of former Chief Justice John Marshall and more — the erudite judge surely noted a zoological curiosity. Conservatives and liberals are so different as to be drawn from distinct species of political animals. To me, the conservative always has appeared to be some form of mammal. The liberal is reptilian. I could be wrong. I wonder what Judge Vinson might say.
Hall failed to bring on a representative from the other side of the dispute, even though there are 26 state attorneys general to choose from for that purpose, not to mention any number of conservative legal scholars who could defend the conservative position on the matter.
What's more, Hall failed to challenge any of the complaints Pollack raised, such as his lament that although Judge Roger Vinson dwelt mostly on the "individual mandate" provision that forces Americans to buy health insurance under penalty of law, he ruled the entirety of the 906-page "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" unconstitutional.
ABC, CBS and NBC on Monday night devoted more than half of their evening newscasts to the turmoil in Egypt, but while CBS and NBC squeezed in brief mentions of how a federal judge agreed with 26 states that the entire ObamaCare law is unconstitutional, ABC’s World News didn’t utter a syllable about the major setback for the Obama administration. Anchor Diane Sawyer, however, made room for a full story on an impending snowstorm and four minutes for a new series, “Families on the Brink: What to Do About Mom and Dad?”
While CBS anchor Harry Smith provided a short summary of the development, the CBS Evening News allocated four times more time to new USDA dietary guidelines which call for less consumption of salt. Smith tried to downplay the significance of the ruling:
It would appear that if it weren't for the center-right blogosphere, Fox News, a few business dailies, a few conservative pundits, and talk radio, very few people would know about the hundreds of waivers granted by the Obama administration to companies, unions, not-for-profits, states, and other entities wishing to be spared the burdens of complying with Obamacare for at least another year.
The latest count as of last Wednesday's Health and Human Services Department press release was 732, including four states: Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, and Tennessee.
That the waiver situation is not more widely known is largely due to the fact that the establishment press has shown almost no interest in it.
The Associated Press has had five days to cover HHS's latest release. It is news, as HHS's release was, as far as I can tell, the first indication that "Over 500 waivers were granted in December." Here is the result of a search on "health waivers" (not in quotes) at the AP's main web site at about 10:00 this morning: