Two signs Sunday morning of how the Washington press corps are dismissive, disdainful and befuddled by the Tea Party.
On This Week, Christiane Amanpour fretted that though the New York Times has discredited the Tea Party’s rationale (“a new report today in the New York Times, they say that in fact TARP will cost maybe $28 billion to the taxpayer, instead of the $700 billion”), she told Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas “you yourself have been facing, even though you’re a reliable conservative, Tea Party competition in Texas. Are they outflanking you?” Amanpour empathized that Tea Party activists “said that you personally signify everything that the Tea Party is fighting.” A flummoxed Amanpour wondered: “What on earth do they mean by that?”
Over on CBS's Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer, echoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, asked Senator John McCain about a Senate vote to repeal ObamaCare: “Do you think...that that's a waste of time, that the time in the Senate could be better spent working on something that has a chance of passing?”
The attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords could have been averted if America had government-run health care, according to left-wing comedian Bill Maher.
That's just the first instance of liberal media advocacy that NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center president Brent Bozell touched in the January 20 "Media Mash" segment on FNC's "Hannity" program.
"This is the desperation that they're in to sell ObamaCare, that they know the American people don't want," Bozell argued.
In the guise of a status report on ObamaCare, Katie Couric on Thursday night derided Republican efforts to repeal it just as it’s “starting to kick in.” She pleaded for viewers to give it a chance as she rationalized “the law is vulnerable because of the complex way it tries to fold 30 million uninsured people into the system,” fretting “damage could be inflicted by choking off funding for programs that support the law, but a greater threat is the legal storm that's brewing.”
“The health care law may not be popular, but many of the provisions now in effect are,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl asserted in his Thursday night look at the House vote to repeal ObamaCare as he highlighted one beneficiary of it without a balancing opponent or list of detrimental provisions: “To Kris Cambra, whose four-year-old son has a heart condition, the law is a life changer, and repeal would be a disaster.”
Karl touted: “Already, seniors are getting more money to pay for their prescription drugs. Children can stay on their parents' insurance until age 26. And children with pre-existing conditions can't be denied coverage.”
On the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proposed the vote matched the public perception of Republicans as more inflexible than President Obama: “And just today, kind of as we speak, the Republicans in the House pretty much straight up and down party line vote to repeal ObamaCare, knowing it's dead on arrival in the Senate where the Democrats run things.”
"Never let the facts get in the way of a good story" must be the motto at Reuters, or at least of the wire service's Richard Cowan, three other contributors, and Editor Jackie Frank.
Cowan's late Sunday afternoon dispatch (HT to an e-mailer) is caricature-driven collection of cliches, half-truth, outright myths, and totally predictable oversights. There's the racial slurs before the heath care vote fabrication. There's an attempt to declare Sarah Palin unfit for the presidency.
And of course, there's the deliberately avoided recall of rhetoric from President Obama (here and here, for warm-ups) that could certainly be interpreted by unstable people as a call to violence, as well as total omission of the left's anger just days ago over Gabrielle Giffords's refusal to back Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader and the leftist inclinations of deeply troubled accused murderer Jared Lee Loughner.
But that stuff's not important when there are disliked right-wingers to pile onto while the piling-on opportunity is there:
Okay, who slipped truth serum into Evan Thomas's coffee?
On Friday, Newsweek's "Editor at Large" (according to his bio here) appeared on "Inside Washington" (link to entire show is here; transcript not yet available). After being cued up with a softball from host Gordon Peterson about how supposedly great Friday's news about the drop in the national unemployment rate was (uh, not exactly, Gordon), Thomas segued into a somewhat surprising comment about how ObamaCare's implementation is going as it meets the real world. In a word (Thomas's), it's a disaster (HT Daily Caller via Instapundit):
Appearing as a guest on Friday’s Countdown show on MSNBC, Washington Post staff writer and Newsweek columnist Ezra Klein defended Obamacare and warned Republicans against attempting to repeal the law as he contended that some provisions are popular with the public. After host Keith Olbermann asked if Democrats should "relish rejoining the fight over health care reform" because it could hurt Republicans, Klein urged Democrats to fight. Klein:
They should be going to war over it. It's an incredibly important achievement for them, and if Democrats cannot defend a deficit-reducing bill that brings health care insurance to 32 million people and allows folks with pre-existing conditions to get any insurance they want, if they can't defend that, frankly, they, on some level, don't really deserve to be a party. If you can't defend the best thing you've done in a generation, then you've got some political problems that are bigger than anything the Republicans are doing to you.
The Washington Post writer eventually predicted that Republicans would be embracing and defending Obamacare by the year 2050. Klein: "In 2050 Republicans will be saying, ‘How dare you cut Obamacare?’"
AP reporters Calvin Woodward and Andrew Taylor answered the bell and came out swinging at the Republican House within hours after John Boehner was sworn in as Speaker, accusing the GOP of supposedly breaking a number of core promises.
As usual when the wire service covers Republicans, there's no shortage of inconsistency bordering on hypocrisy coming from AP's alleged journalists.
Here are selected paragraphs from this morning's report ("PROMISES, PROMISES: GOP drops some out of the gate"):
ABC’s Diane Sawyer hit a group of incoming freshmen House and Senate members about presumed Tea Party hypocrisy in accepting farm subsidies and not refusing to accept federal employee health care while CBS’s Katie Couric, with three House members, despaired over the “danger” that budget cuts might “be too deep?” Forwarding liberal talking points, in the pre-recorded segment aired on Wednesday’s World News, Sawyer relayed:
The Democrats have a challenge for the Republicans, saying, if you're going to cut spending, go ahead and start close to home. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri got more than $750,000 in taxpayer subsidies for her farm. Are you ready to vote against all farm subsidies?
Sawyer continued: “And on the promise to repeal health care reform, Democrats ask: Will they be giving up their new taxpayer-subsidized insurance? Only two of them said they would.”
On the CBS Evening News, Couric noted “Republicans say high on their priority list is deficit reduction, starting with major cuts in domestic spending this year. Fiscally conservative freshmen say everything’s fair game.” She then fretted: “But is there danger in your view, Congressman West, that the ax will be too sharp, that the cuts will be too deep?”
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith seemed skeptical of the legal reasoning of a federal judge who ruled part of ObamaCare was unconstitutional: "The thing that he objects to most strenuously is this idea that everybody has to be insured. And the Republicans are jumping up and down, they're ready to have a party. Do you think they have a legal leg to stand on?"
Smith directed that question to Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who used the softball setup to declare: "I think the law is sound, and when Eric Cantor on the Republican side says, 'Let's repeal ObamaCare,' he wants to repeal the protection Americans want against the discrimination against them for pre-existing conditions. I think that's a losing political position."
Imagine the (justifiable) media and other outcry that would result if a previous presidential administration and congressional leadership had convinced gullible House and Senate members to pass a law which they weren't given time to read specifying the following about a new Military Spending Board.
First, the Board appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate) sets a predetermined (by the Board) target for military spending growth. If the Board determines that the growth of military spending will not match this predetermined target, it has the power to enact a remedy through “fast track” legislation, which will work like this:
So what should be made of the historic midterm election of 2010?
While all the pundits try to analyze polling data and read between the lines, syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer has a clearer view. In his view, President Barack Obama’s so-called hope and change agenda is dead and it’s up to Obama to determine his direction.
Back in March, in the runup to the final ObamaCare vote in the House, the establishment press was thrilled when the Congressional Budget Office issued a report estimating that ObamaCare would, in the CBO's words, "produce a net reduction in federal deficits of $138 billion over the 2010–2019 period as result of changes in direct spending and revenue." At the time, NB's Brent Baker noted how positively giddy Katie Couric at CBS News was over the CBO's estimate. Couric even claimed: "The price tag certified."
If only. It turns out that the key word in the CBO statement was "direct."
On Friday, CBO head Doug Elmendorf made a presentation (HT Jed Graham at IBD) at the Schaeffer Center of the University of Southern California entitled "Economic Effects of the March Health Legislation." In it, as shown below, he revealed a pesky and significant indirect effect of the legislation. In the process, he also introduced us to a new economic disease (my name) -- ObamaCare Withdrawn Labor Syndrome, or "OWL":
The Scranton Times-Tribune on Thursday attacked a conservative organization's radio ad for supposedly spreading "bald-faced lies" about the sale of three Scranton-area Catholic hospitals, and labeled the organization "political hit-and-run artists who pervert the facts." The newspaper's attack-editorial actually glossed over what it had earlier reported on ObamaCare's effect on hospitals and ignored the original words of the hospitals' CEO.
On October 6, WNEP, Scranton's ABC-affiliated TV station, reported that Mercy Health Partners, which owns the three Catholic hospitals, was "already in talks with organizations interested in buying. Mercy Health Partners CEO Kevin Cook acknowledged on-camera that "health care reform was absolutely playing a role. Was it the precipitating factor in this decision? No, but was it a factor in our planning over the next five years? Absolutely."
The radio spot by CatholicVote.org, a political action committee whose statement of beliefs criticizes the "culture of dependency that has been caused by (sometimes well-intentioned but misguided) government programs," highlighted Cook's remark: "Mercy Hospital CEO Kevin Cook said that President Obama's health care law is absolutely playing in role in their decision to close their doors."
Sunday’s Today show on NBC and Sunday Morning on CBS presented seemingly contradictory polling results on how much ObamaCare is supported by the American public, although both seemed to be citing the same AP poll. As Meet the Press host David Gregory appeared on Today, anchor Lester Holt suggested that Republicans are going against the majority of Americans in promising to repeal ObamaCare as he vaguely referred to polling data and contended, "But new polling out suggests that most people not only do they not want to, don't want it repealed, they want more added to it," and added, "Do Republicans have to refine this message and take a better look at it?" According to the AP poll as reported at msnbc.com, "four in 10 adults think the new law did not go far enough to change the health care system."
By contrast, on Sunday Morning, CBS anchor Charles Osgood briefly recounted numbers from the AP poll which suggested that ObamaCare is unpopular. Osgood: "A poll commissioned by the Associated Press finds just 30 percent of Americans in favor of the new health care law, 30 percent are neutral, and 40 percent oppose it. Four out of 10 respondents say the new law doesn’t do enough to change the health care system."
Returning to NBC, Gregory did not comment directly on whether he believed the poll’s accuracy, as he argued that the Republican message may indeed be successful, and went on to raise the theory from the left that ObamaCare will become more popular as people benefit from it:
Back in 1992, ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings told viewers his network would skip coverage of “routine” campaign events, unless they actually contributed new information that viewers could use. In an effort to keep ABC from being used as a propaganda arm for politicians, Jennings declared “there will be less attention to staged appearances and sound bites designed exclusively for television.”
He later elaborated to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, saying he did not want to be “‘seduced by pictures as we’ve been so easily seduced in the past. I don’t think any of us ever wants to be in the flag factory situation again,’ referring to a 1988 Bush campaign event.”
Evidently, times have changed. On Thursday’s World News, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer ran as a “news” item a White House-produced video — complete with schmaltzy background music — of President Obama taking a phone call from a cancer patient who, Sawyer informed viewers “is now able to get health insurance” thanks to ObamaCare.
Catching up on an item from Wednesday, uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, the CBS Evening News informed its viewers that ObamaCare regulations will result in some insurance companies refusing to sell new policies specifically for children whose parents otherwise might have wanted to purchase such policies. Faced with rules that would prevent the insurance industry from denying coverage to children with preexisting health problems, at least three companies will be discontinuing child-only policies. CBS anchor Katie Couric set up the report: "And it didn't take long. The insurance industry has already found a way around that preexisting condition provision for children's policies: Don't sell any. And that could affect a half a million Americans under the age of 18."
Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson recounted the story of a man who has had trouble purchasing insurance for his daughter because of a preexisting condition, and then informed viewers of the disappointing news that she still will likely not be able to obtain insurance. After noting President Barack Obama’s promise to ban discrimination against children with preexisting health problems, Attkisson continued:
A governor forced to resign for patronizing call girls will probably have a hard time landing a job making pronouncements on politics, right? But there, on CNN, is former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Spitzer will co-host a show with pseudo-conservative Kathleen Parker called "Parker Spitzer," which is set to debut on Oct. 4. But in the meantime, Spitzer has been making regular appearances on CNN programming to offer the liberal perspective on issues. On CNN's Sept. 20 "Anderson Cooper 360," that's what he did, carrying water for the Democratic Party - even though his argument was factually leaky.
In the wake of the GOP's nomination of Christine O'Donnell as the Delaware candidate for U.S. Senate, Spitzer took on conservative talker and blogger Dana Loesch over what issues the Tea Party movement was really interested in taking a stand on - fiscal or social. Loesch argued that the movement isn't just about opposing this Congress' policy endeavors, but is also offering solutions, as was the case with ObamaCare.
"The justices have not struck down a major piece of legislation, let alone a president's signature initiative, as beyond Congress's power to regulate commerce in some 75 years."
That's how Newsweek's Stuart Taylor Jr. today all but argued that, political ideology of the Supreme Court's majority aside, a Supreme Court decision declaring unconstitutional the "individual mandate" of ObamaCare is quite unlikely.
But while Taylor may be right that no signature presidential initiative post-New Deal has been declared unconstitutional by the Court on the grounds that it violated the interstate commerce clause, he neglected to mention there are two key cases in the past 15 years where the Supreme Court did set outer limits to Congress's exploitation of the commerce clause as a fountain of federal power.
New York Times reporter Robert Pear ought to consider moonlighting as a stand-up comic in the tradition of Steven Wright.
Wright's deadpan delivery is legendary. Pear's deadpan lines in his article about the immense paperwork burden heading the economy's way in the form of requiring IRS 1099 forms to be issued to each and every person paid $600 or more during the course of a calendar year for any and all goods provided or services rendered are remarkable.
Of course, if Pear chooses to get on stage with his act he'll have to come up with a more humorous topic. The nightmare that could be visited upon American business and really the American economy is pretty stunning -- and don't for a minute think that individuals with hobbies that break even or possibly lose money every year and don't ordinarily bother to file tax returns for their activities (because they aren't required to) aren't going to be affected.
What follows are a few of the choice one-liners found in Pear's September 11 article ("Many Push for Repeal of Tax Provision in Health Law") that appeared in the paper's Sunday print edition on Page A25:
Adopting language and tactics more typical of tyrants, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday sent a public letter to the head of a health insurance industry group demanding that carriers stop "falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act," and that "that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases."
She reinforced her short-term threat with a longer-term one:
We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014. Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections.
When Sebelius threatens exclusion from the "Exchanges," she is really saying: "Shut up and eat your costs, or you'll be out of business in a few years."
It has now been five days since Politico's Ben Smith published a powerpoint presentation created by an amalgamation of powerful left wing interest groups, conceding that two of the central arguments for passing ObamaCare - that it will lower the deficit and will reduce health care costs - have failed.
For a group of organizations integral to the passage of the law, that was a stunning admission. And yet, the mainstream press is nearly silent on the issue. Searches on Nexis and Google News reveal no coverage from the major television networks, the cable news channels (with the exception of Fox), the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, NPR, PBS, or Newsweek. To their credit, Time Magazine and the Washington Post published a blog post each on the revelation.
Even while discussing ObamaCare and its potential effects on the deficit and health care costs, some media outlets managed to avoid any mention of a fact Democrats now seem to be conceding: "the White House's first and most aggressive sales pitch have essentially failed," as Smith notes.
OK - it's not really much of a surprise. However, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has responded to the slowing economic recovery with restraint, not tinkering with interest rates and showing a continued willingness to buy mortgage-backed securities and long-term Treasury bonds. And that was roundly applauded by the markets, and CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer.
"Here's what you need to know about the Fed," Cramer said. "They're not in the way. I'm a Fed-is-friend, Fed-is-foe guy."
On CNBC's Aug. 10 "Street Signs," during his "Stop Trading" segment, Cramer explained that the Fed is acting appropriately and noted it wasn't the Bernanke that was holding the economy back. Who is to blame? It's Congress, according to Cramer, with its complicated health care bill and even more indecipherable financial regulation bill.
The truth comes out. Okay, it was always out there. It's just that the Barack Obama and the folks in his administration were denying it.
The issue in question is whether the individual mandate and penalties for not purchasing health insurance in the statist health care legislation commonly known as ObamaCare should rightly be considered taxes, or if they are something else.
In a report dated Friday that appeared in the paper's print edition at Page A14 on Sunday, Robert Pear at the New York Times noted that in legal proceedings, in response to litigation brought by state attorneys general, the administration is now characterizing the mandate and penalties as taxes. Note the subtle water-down that occurred between the web page's title bar and the published article's headline:
President Obama’s recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick – a controversial advocate of socialized medicine and of government rationing of health care, particularly for the elderly – as head of the Medicare and Medicaid programs has so far received no attention on ABC’s World News or on the CBS Evening News, while the NBC Nightly News on Thursday devoted just 38 seconds to the President’s controversial move that circumvents a possibly bruising Senate confirmation hearing, barely touching on the nature of Berwick’s beliefs and their possible implications for the elderly. Broadcast network morning newscasts have similarly shown little to no interest in the subject. CNN’s The Situation Room devoted a full story to the appointment on Wednesday, but did little better than NBC in informing viewers of the significance of Berwick’s beliefs.
By contrast, FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier on Wednesday relayed to viewers that Berwick has not only advocated the type of socialized medicine that currently limits access to health care in Britain – favoring a non-free market system based on wealth redistribution – but he has also spoken in favor of government limiting access to some health care procedures for the elderly in favor of younger patients.
FNC correspondent Jim Angle filled in viewers on how the elderly would be treated under a system Berwick might advocate:
So you want to crawl under a high-powered lamp and bake your skin so that it has a brownish-orangish glow to it, even though there are potential health consequences. Well, the federal government is here to save you and, according to "CBS Evening News," that's not a bad thing.
The new federal 10 percent tax on indoor tanning has provoked odd alliances - such as when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told "Snooki" from MTV's "Jersey Shore"through Twitterhe would "never tax your tanning bed." But on the June 30 broadcast of "Evening News," CBS correspondent Michelle Miller made the case why the government should.
"Gisselle Colon wanted to be bronze and beautiful. She sunbathed and bought a membership to a tanning salon several years ago. Last month, things turned ugly," Miller said. "This is her scar. In May, Gisselle was diagnosed with melanoma, one of the deadliest and most preventable forms of cancer." (h/t @KenShepherd)
On Friday, Investors Business Daily (IBD) reported on leaked government documents identifying what employer-provided health plans can and cannot do if they wish to retain their "grandfathered" status under the statist health care legislation commonly known as ObamaCare that became law on March 23. One of the items in the government document (83-page PDF) is the following table, which estimates the percentages of large and small employers who will choose to (or be financially forced to) "relinquish" (i.e., give up) their grandfathered status:
In ironic timing, Walecia Konrad at the New York Times, in a personal finance column that appeared in the paper's Saturday print edition and which was probably written shortly before IBD's report, inadvertently revealed that ObamaCare itself may be a reason why employer "relinquishments" over the next three years come in well above the mid-range estimates in the table:
In mid-July of last year, the good folks on the editorial board at Investors Business Daily made the following observations about the version of ObamaCare then under consideration by the House:
... Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.
... the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
So ... Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.
The leaked Treasury draft documents (83-page PDF) referred to in an earlier post this morning about employer coverage (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) go beyond vindicating IBD by applying the same prohibitions to group coverage, as the following language found at Page 14 of the document shows: