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:
Earlier this year, in his "Can we lose health coverage? Yes we can" column, syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock made a point asserted in dozens if not hundreds of columns and reports during the hide-and-seek legistlative process that ultimately led to the passage of what is commonly known as ObamaCare: The President's core promise relating to the statist health care legislation that ultimately became law in March -- namely that "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what" -- could not and would not be kept.
In that column, Murdock quoted Cato Institute analyst Michael Cannon as follows:
"Obama's definition of 'meaningful' coverage could eliminate the health plans that now cover as many as half of the 159 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance, plus more than half of the roughly 18 million Americans in the individual market. ... This could compel close to 90 million Americans to switch to more comprehensive health plans with higher premiums, whether they value the added coverage or not."
In a late Friday afternoon blog post followed by a fuller early evening report, David Hogberg and Sean Higgins at Investors Business Daily confirmed that Obama's never-credible core promise is on the brink of being shattered, and that the employer-related calculations by Cato's Cannon were essentially correct (graphically illustrated by IBD at the top right):
It's probably safe to assume that a lot of reporters in the mainstream media lean to the left side of the ideological spectrum. And it was seen throughout the health care debate over the past year and a half - that somehow we need to raise the rhetoric beyond hyperbole like death panels, etc.
"[T]he Post found itself in another potentially embarrassing and ethically compromised position on Wednesday after one of its most senior reporters abruptly canceled an appearance at her own book party, which was being sponsored by a public relations firm with strong ties to the Democratic Party," Peters wrote.
Over the past two years, yours truly has noted how the economy in Oklahoma has with very little media attention outperformed most of the rest of the nation. The Sooner State's much lower unemployment rate, higher GDP growth, and higher personal income growth have "strangely" coincided with the passage of a strict illegal immigration law-enforcement measure in 2007.
Now there's another significant news item out of Oklahoma that the establishment press has also virtually ignored. In November, voters there are going to decide whether to opt out of the statist health care legislation passed by Congress in March, also known as ObamaCare, by passing a state constitutional amendment.
Oklahoma is not alone. Two larger states will also have state constitutional opt-outs on the November ballot.
Rush Limbaugh brought the Oklahoma news to his listeners' attention yesterday, and linked to this LifeSiteNews.com story. If that seems an odd choice, it's because press coverage in general has been either curt, dismissive, or non-existent.
Here are key paragraphs from Peter J. Smith's LifeSite report:
Say something quasi-outrageous about a Democratic public official and it gets wall-to-wall coverage on MSNBC - just ask Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. But go on misogynistic tirade about a Republican public official and no one notices.
"You know Michelle Bachmann, this fruitcake from - no, that gives fruitcakes a bad name - this half-ass, this half-wit; this jerk-ward from Minnesota, Michele Bachmann; The Minnesota Independent has found that Bachmann and Associates Inc., a Christian mental-health clinic, founded and run by her husband Marcus Bachmann, has taken in nearly $30,000 in funding from the Minnesota state government since 2007. Now this is the same Bachmann screwball who has been screeching about any form of public health insurance plans - calling such ideas socialized medicine, except when it's her turn to step up to the trough."
Today, the Associated Press generally did what is supposed to do when reporting on scandal-plagued politicians. Here are the first five paragraphs of the AP's brief report on Indiana Congressman Mark Souder's resignation announcement (link is dynamic and will probably be updated; "where's the worst one we can find?" picture of Souder at top right is via AP):
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
That was the takeaway from an April 22 CNBC "Squawk Box" segment in which the network's Washington correspondent John Harwood explained the upside for the Obama administration in taking an aggressive tack on financial regulation and pushing it through Congress.
According to Harwood, public opinion on this issue favors President Barack Obama. He explained that Wall Street is very unpopular and that's causing some Republicans to be willing to compromise with Democrats on the issue.
"He knows that things are rolling his way on this issue," Harwood said. "You had battle lines initially drawn - both parties took to the trenches, started firing heavy ammunition. But the throw weight is with the Democratic side on this. The public wants financial regulation reform. They don't like Wall Street, just as they don't like Washington. So this is a case where Barack Obama, instead of being the target of public anger, can direct some of it somewhere else. That is what causes Republicans at the end to say, ‘OK, it's time to negotiate, get serious about a deal.' And they're going to get some concessions in that bargaining in exchange for their votes. And they will then be able to stand up and say, ‘This bill was headed to be a bailout bill. We stopped the bailout and everybody can hold hands and say they did something good for the country.'"
Last month I noted Newsweek's Liz White's complaint about the term "ObamaCare" being used as shorthand for the Democratic health care legislation. White griped that the term was "ominous-sounding" and favored by the legislation's conservative opponents as reasons why mainstream media outlets should eschew the term.
Now a full 27 days later, White is back at it with her complaint about the term "ObamaCare." This time, she's citing none other than liberal Comedy Central "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart to back her up:
Stewart immediately jumps on O’Hara’s slip, calling him out on using the “derogatory” phrase and firing back by referring to O’Hara’s book as a “tea-bagger book.” O’Hara stammers for a few seconds and tries to defend his word choice, but concedes to calling it the health-reform bill instead. (It’s a law, by the way.)
Last month, I took on this same issue. Should the bill be called Obamacare, or is that phrase, as Stewart puts it, derogatory by nature?
On Wednesday, Congressman Henry Waxman cancelled hearings, or what Michelle Malkin referred to as "show trials" in her Friday syndicated column, designed to put the spotlight on companies that dared to do what they legally had to do in response to the passage of ObamaCare: tell the public the estimated impact on their bottom lines relating to a specific tax law chance that was included in the legislation.
Despite the legal requirement, the headline of the Associated Press's coverage on the day of the announcement described the companies' announcements as "gripes." AP Business Writer Matthew Perrone called them "concerns," and acted as if the companies backed down, when the only qualification involved a questionably and largely unrelated item, i.e., what might happen if the law manages to lower overall health care costs.
That journalistically inaccurate narrative gave Waxman an undeserved way out of the heavyhanded mess that he created.
Here are the related paragraphs of Perrone's pathetic piece:
The funny folks at Narf Tv noticed the Obama administration and its liberal allies have done a poor job explaining just how great ObamaCare is. So they decided to make a commercial to give them a little help.
Is President Barack Obama really instituting "cradle-to-grave" social policies and transforming the United States into a nanny state? Well, it may not be "womb-to-tomb" yet, but he's certainly creating a welfare state for Americans beyond their mid-20s.
"I think it's more likely to be stuck," Harwood said. "Now, ultimately, the hope for Democrats, and for the president, is the actual experience with the legislation. Forget the sales job, but once elements of that kick in, especially the more popular ones, letting kids stay on their parents' insurance policies until they're 26, and preventing insurance companies from kicking people off when they hit a lifetime max - those kinds of things, they hope, will make, fuel acceptance of this legislation."
Associated Press writer John Flesher seems to be one bitter guy.
Flesher, along with whoever (possibly Flesher himself) came up with the headline for his Saturday report on Bart Stupak's decision not to run for re-election in Michigan's 1st Congressional District, tells readers that:
Tea Partiers are poor winners.
The residents of Stupak's district are federal money-grubbers who can be fooled by candidates holding the right position on "hot-button issues."
Based on a poli sci prof's contention, Stupak (pictured at top right with his wife in an AP photo) would "absolutely" have won as all the evidence he needed to "prove" the nine-term congressman's re-electability.
Here are the opening paragraphs from the flailing Flesher:
The establishment press has for decades and almost without exception insisted that FDR's sacrosanct legacy of Social Security can go on and on with only minor tweaks, and that if trouble looms, it's way out there in 2040 or so when the "Trust Fund" is depleted. The problem is that during that time the federal government has raided the annual surpluses generated by "Trust Fund" which now consists almost entirely of IOUs from the rest of the government. Meanwhile, annual surpluses, where tax collections exceed benefits paid and which were well over $100 billion just a couple of years ago, have vanished, and aren't coming back to any significant degree.
Another mythology is under development: That the just-passed ObamaCare legislation has "saved" Medicare. The Social Security/Medicare Trustees report is being delayed until June 30 to incorporate the effects of the recently passed ObamaCare on the health of Medicare. It will supposedly tell us that the life of the Medicare "Trust Fund" has been magically extended by about a decade. (Raise your hand if you think the Trustees are under immense political pressure to issue a favorable verdict regardless of the facts.)
In his Tuesday coverage of a government official's leak to the Associated Press about the report's delay in advance of the official administration announcement, the AP's Martin Crutsinger spun these and other fairy tales in his stout defense for the fiscally destructive programs. But in doing so, he perhaps inadvertently revealed that Congress and the administration had no idea of the true future impact of ObamaCare.
Here are key paragraphs from Crutsinger's report (footnotes are mine, and are explained later):
During a fawning segment on a busy day of presidential traditions for Barack Obama, on Monday's CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Harry Smith used the commander in chief's embarrassing pitch at the Washington Nationals opening game to tout ObamaCare: "If there had been a batter he might have been hit, but we are assured by the White House he would have been covered by the new health care reform law."
After showing a clip of the Obama's flubbed throw, Smith remarked: "Whoops." He then added: "In the broadcast booth, the President got a chance to analyze his performance on the mound." A clip was played of the President admitting: "This is heart breaking right here. You know, I was a little disappointed with the pitch, it was high and outside. I was intentionally walking the guy."
The segment began with Smith describing the annual White House Easter Egg Roll that morning: "Some 30,000 moms, dads, and kids from all 50 states crowded on to the South Lawn for a day of fun and games....The Obamas put their own special imprint on the event today, focusing on healthy, active living."
Smith also mentioned how "the President put on a basketball clinic for the kids." Perhaps the Early Show co-host was reminded of his own "basketball clinic" with the President, following an interview on Thursday in which Smith pitched worse softballs than Obama.
Forget those polls, like the current one conducted for CBS News, that show most Americans disapprove of President Barack Obama's health care scheme. And ignore accounts like the one in today's Politico highlighting the grief some Democratic congressmen are getting for voting with Obama on health care. No, focus instead on stories like the one in today's print and Web edition of the Chicago Tribune. "Health insurance reform profiles" is a "look at how the new law will affect four people in different circumstances." And guess what? Every single one of them approves of ObamaCare. Isn't it funny how it just works out that way?
A 56-year-old woman who lost Medicaid eligibility when her children left home says: "Health reform isn't perfect, it's only a first step, but by God it will make a difference to me." A 62-year-old man covered under his wife's policy "is confident the greater changes are all for the good." A 22-year-old male is relieved he'll continue to be carried on his parent's health insurance when he goes to art school. If not for ObamaCare, "I would have either taken the risk and opted out or looked for work instead of going further in school." A 40-year-old- freelance writer confides that he is "was "'thrilled' to see the health care overhaul signed into law."
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer, who in February demanded to know who will “keep insurance companies from jacking up premiums while making huge profits?”, on Friday found her champion in the Superintendent of Maine’s Bureau of Insurance, hailing Mila Kofman as a “super-cop” and a “gladiator” for rejecting a rate hike requested by Anthem Blue Cross.
Kofman proclaimed “we are the super-cops on the street. I take that responsibility as an insurance regulator very seriously,” a self-promotional description Sawyer adopted in her introduction, touting “a woman in Maine who is acting as a super-cop, and telling the insurance companies ‘no.’”
Reporter Bill Weir recounted how Kofman turned down an 18 percent increase in premiums for individual policies, allowing “11 percent. Enough for Anthem to cover their rising costs, but not enough to make a profit. She says they're doing just fine.” Presuming nefarious motives by insurance companies, Weir asserted the new health care law “depends on state regulators to keep them honest every day.”
Is it possible to be so wrapped up in a media culture that one could minimize a sacred religious holiday in a shoddy attempt to write a clever headline? Mediaite's Tommy Christopher and his editors seemed to have pulled this feat off.
Christopher, who has had a much-publicized run-in with Andrew Breitbart, has a new hero, former American Enterprise Institute scholar David Frum. Christopher elevated Frum to messianic status in a Good Friday April 2 post headlined "Did David Frum ‘Die' For GOP's Sins?" specifically praising the former AEI scholar for his appearance on Comedy Central's April 1 "The Colbert Report."
Green jobs to save the American economy? If you have listened to the various politicos on the left end of the spectrum, especially before and after the passage of the $787-billion stimulus package earlier, you would think that is the cure-all.
But so far it isn't working and there are other fundamental problems that lie ahead according to some energy market analysts, like much higher oil prices - despite the pledge by President Barack Obama to open up 160 million acres for future oil exploration and drilling. To avoid the price of $100-plus oil, CNBC's CME Group floor reporter suggested expediting the process, as was the case with ObamaCare and TARP.
"I think what you're hitting on is so important because the President of course talking about some of these jobs, but also talking about drilling," Santelli said on CNBC's April 1 broadcast of "Closing Bell." "You know, if the government was able to put forth health care and the government was able to do bailouts and TARP and stretch the rules, if they wanted to get jobs now and avoid the $100-plus oil you know that's coming they could drill quickly if they wanted to. And this is something that needs to be discussed, don't you think?"
Embedded at right is NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell's March 31 appearance on Sean Hannity's radio program. [audio MP3 for download here; click embed at right to listen to interview here]
Bozell debated Democratic strategist Bob Beckel about, among other things, charges of racism at the Tea Party rally held the day before the vote for final passage of ObamaCare:
BRENT BOZELL: Three separate videos of [Rep.] John Lewis, three separate videos, and it isn't picked up. Andrew Breitbart has offered $10,000 to anyone who can confirm the use of the N-word. No one has come forward to say this. Only this one congressman has said this. Nobody's come forward [with evidence proving the charge].
Host Bob Schieffer led Sunday's Face the Nation by fretting over opposition to the passage of ObamaCare: "What about the violence in the wake of the congressional action? Isolated incidents or signs of a dangerous anger?" He told viewers that he would talk to "Republican firebrands, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann" about the issue.
Schieffer pressed DeMint on some of the threats against members of Congress: "Senator, we saw some pretty scary stuff last week....We saw members' offices that were trashed. We saw death threats....Do you think the parties have an obligation to try to tone down some of this runaway rhetoric? Is it, in fact, dangerous?" The Senator defended tea party protestors: "I've been with hundreds of thousands of tea party patriots...and I've never seen any violence or heard any bad language....it's unfair and untrue to try to paint this whole American awakening with some of the bad comments that we heard last week in Washington."
Later turning to Bachmann, Schieffer tried to portray the Congresswoman as extreme: "You said last week that health care reform was dangerous and you equated it with tyranny. Do you really mean that?...You said that you thought Barack Obama had anti-American views....what do you mean the President is anti-American?" He continued his interrogation by pointing to comments made by Sarah Palin: "[She] famously said last week that it is not time for Republicans to retreat. It is time to reload....said she wasn't talking about guns. She was talking about getting out there and using the vote. Do you think Sarah Palin has overstated it here?"