NBC's Matt Lauer, on Wednesday's "Today" show hit Senator Jim DeMint over his statement that health care reform could be Barack Obama's Waterloo as the "Today" co-host accused, "People are saying that you are playing pure politics with this issue," and, as seen in the following exchange, pressed "Are you rallying conservatives to the cause of health care reform? Or are you rallying conservatives to the cause of breaking a President?"
LAUER: Let's start with the obvious. There are real differences of opinion in terms of how to achieve health care reform in this country and how to get insurance to the some 50 million people who don't have it. But over the past couple of days, I don't have to tell you, you've ignited a firestorm, and people are saying that you are playing pure politics with this issue. How do you respond?
DEMINT: Well, it has nothing to do with politics or it's certainly not personal. But, but the President's policies have not matched up to his promises so far. We saw that in this giant stimulus, his trillion dollar stimulus that has stimulated the government, but really cost American jobs and, and, and loaded lots of debt on top of future generations. [audio available here]
A night after CBS slammed as “incendiary” Senator Jim DeMint's observation that if Republicans are able to block Obama's health care push, “it will be his Waterloo, it will break him,” CBS anchor Katie Couric adopted the same assumption as she expressed worry to the President: “Are you concerned at all that if health care reform fails it will be a huge and devastating setback to your presidency?”
Couric framed her Tuesday newscast through the prism of a “threat” to Obama's quest, teasing: “Tonight, the latest threat to health care reform: Squabbling among Democrats on Capitol Hill, and the stakes could not be higher for the Democrat in the White House.”
During her session at the White House with Obama excerpted on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, Couric pressed Obama to extend his deadline (“Is there any flexibility on this August deadline?” and “You'll have some flexibility on this deadline?), but she also hit him with mildly challenging questions, such as: “Do you think any illegal immigrant should be eligible for health care under the new plan?” And, though Obama made clear his disagreement with her premise: “If the stimulus plan isn't really working -- at least for now -- why should Americans sign off on spending billions of dollars on health care reform?”
On CNN Newsroom today, anchor Kyra Phillips interviewed Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele on the topic of President Obama's healthcare push. Part of the interview:
PHILLIPS: But whether government-run or private, I mean, no one's going to demand that you go one way or another. You're still going to have a choice.
STEELE: We don't -- maybe we do. I don't know. We haven't had that debate. I mean, you're talking about -- you're talking about the possibility of reorienting one-sixth of our economy with legislators who haven't even read the legislation. I mean, are they going to do to health care what they did with cap and trade? Are we going to get amendments at 4 a.m. in the morning and no one reads them? And then only after the Health and Human Services Department has to begin to implement this craziness, we're going to find out exactly what's in the bill?
Steele was exactly correct, of course. No one knows what Obama's healthcare program will ultimately mandate. That's because, like the economic stimulus, Obama left it in the hands of his Democratic comrades in Congress to put something together. There are currently three versions in the House and another two in the Senate.
In a recent news package liberal journalists at CNN --in this case Dana Bash and Lesa Jansen-- attempted to discredit a Canadian brain tumor patient who received treatment in the U.S. after being told by Canada's health care system to shut up and take her place in line.
They were unable to actually discredit Shona Holmes of Waterdown, Ontario, but did manage to find another patient who claims to have received speedy treatment following a cancer diagnosis.
John Roberts, on the July 21 edition of American Morning, appeared to expect Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to turn in a weak performance on the issue of health care. Hilarity ensued, as Jindal, who turned down Harvard Medical and Yale Law for a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, proved to be anything but a pushover.
The would-be newsman kicked off with some misleading statistics about Jindal’s performance as governor:
Governor, it’s good to see you. You penned a rather scathing editorial for the Politico.com on the Democrats’ health care proposals. But your state ranks dead last in the United Health Foundation survey of overall health. It also had the fourth highest Medicare cost per patient in the country from 1996 through 2006, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. So some people out there might be wondering if you’re the best person to be criticizing the administration’s plans for health care reform?
Since Jindal is a classy fellow, and realizes that this debate is not about his performance as Louisiana Governor, he neglected to point out that he took office January 14, 2008. That’s at least a full year after Roberts’ statistics ended. The Rhodes scholar responded:
She has become one of the Obama administration's most visible surrogates on health care, announcing the release of $851 million in federal financing for health clinics, calling for tougher nutritional standards in the government's school lunch program and urging Democrats to rally around the president's efforts to revamp health care.
The high-profile emissary? Not Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, or Nancy-Ann DeParle, the White House health policy adviser. It is the first lady, Michelle Obama.
While President Obama’s health care plan seemed to be floundering, Tuesday’s CBS Early Show spun it as an opportunity for him to fight back, as co-host Julie Chen declared: "President Obama pushes back hard against critics of his health care plan as hopes fade it could be passed by August."
Co-host Harry Smith kept up the theme of Obama fighting back in the later segment: "First, though, the fight over health care is becoming a very bitter pill. President Obama goes on the offensive today, not only against Republicans, but also some members of his own party."
Following Smith’s introduction, correspondent Bill Plante reported: "It's game on in the effort to find health care reform. The President has been six months on the job and he now faces his first major battle with Congress. And as you said, not just with Republicans, he's calling in some Democrats today on the House committee to do a little arm twisting, or persuading I think they'd call it."
PBS’s Jim Lehrer forwarded several questions with a clear leftward tilt during an interview with President Obama on his Newshour program on Monday. He urged the executive to “crack heads” to get his health care plan passed, and inquired if “taxing the wealthy” was an option to fund it. Lehrer later pressed Mr. Obama on the “huge profits” being made by “big Wall Street banks.”
The PBS anchor led the interview with a sympathetic question on the president’s slipping poll numbers: “Mr. President, it must have been a little unpleasant for you to wake up this morning to see this headline: ‘Washington Post poll shows Obama slipping on key issues, approval rating on health care falls below 50 percent.’ What’s that mean?”
After the president’s initial answer, Lehrer went right to health care, and hinted that the Democrat’s “reform” plan should be passed with little to no congressional input: “As you know, a lot of the commentary over the weekend was that nothing’s going to happen, getting from here to the final hurdle here, unless you really start cracking some heads, and really say, ‘Hey, this is the Obama plan, this is what I want. So much for what this committee wants and that- what that committee wants. Here’s what I want, and I'm going to push and go.’ Are you ready to do that?”
Former Clinton campaign operative George Stephanopoulos generally tries to put a happy face on big Democratic Party initiatives, but on Tuesday’s Good Morning America the ABC chief Washington correspondent was gloomy about the prospects for Barack Obama’s health care bill. He told co-host Diane Sawyer that “the votes are not there right now” for the White House to get a bill before the August 8 recess, as the President has demanded, and thought polls showing dwindling support for Obama and rising anxiety about the deficit were a “big problem” for the Democrats.
But he did argue that Obama has the chance to turn the situation around by stressing how the massive bill will be “paid for” — even though another stumbling block he cited was more conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats upset by the massive tax increase embedded in the House bill.
“Whether they're going to be able to get there [to a health care bill by the end of the year] is still unclear, Diane, but I think those who are counting it out right now, who are saying there is no way this is going to happen because July is tough, I think they are wrong as well,” Stephanopoulos gamely argued.
In the grand scheme of things, Donny Deutsch's radical prescription for health care might not count for much. Just a former-ad-man-turned-pundit spouting off. But let's consider. Deutsch is well-off and presumably harbors no electoral ambitions. He is free to say whatever's on his mind. And he is immersed in the liberal media-political culture. Is Deutsch giving voice to the radicalism that Obama/Pelosi/Waxman harbor but dare not fully express?
Appearing on Morning Joe today, Deutsch offered a two-part plan for health care:
Make the rich pay for it: "I'm an extremist. I'm for redistribution of wealth."
Noel characterized Raum's report as suggesting that "the White House's delay in releasing an update about the budget might be tied to the administration's desire to get controversial bills on healthcare reform and cap and trade passed before Congress and Americans know just how large the deficit really is." That's because the delayed report would more than likely tell the nation that this year's deficit is expected to be even bigger than expected (using proper cash-flow reporting, which I'll get to), and future years' projected deficits are even more likely to be unsustainably high.
Two important things were missing from Raum's report. First, there was a total dearth of detail about how badly the current fiscal year that began on October 1 of last year has gone -- most especially the last quarter. Second, Raum saved until near the end of his report a prediction by one of the wire service's go-to "experts" -- the first such prediction I've seen -- that Gross Domestic Product will contract yet again in the third quarter.
For the second weekday in a row, Katie Couric teased the CBS Evening News on Monday night by delivering President Obama's aggressive retorts to critics of his health plan as reporter Chip Reid pitched in to help, discrediting critics by disparaging their perspectives as “harsh” and “incendiary” attacks -- all before Couric caught up with ABC and NBC from the night before and promoted Ted Kennedy's “We're Almost There” Newsweek cover story.
Couric teased: “The President takes on critics of his health care reform plan. He vows to move forward and says trying to fix a system that's breaking American families.” (Friday night she touted “a warning from the President,” leading into Obama's claim: “If we don't get health care reform done now, then no one's health insurance is going to be secure.”)
Reid declared that “in some of his harshest comments yet, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele said the President's plan for a public insurance option is socialism.” But this is all Steele said in the clip Reid played: “This reckless approach is an ill-conceived attempt to push through an experiment and all of us should be scared to death.” Reid continued: “In one of the most incendiary comments, Republican Senator Jim DeMint, in a conference call with conservative activists, recently said:” Viewers then heard audio of DeMint making a tactical political point: “If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”
The Mayo Clinic on Monday issued a startling rebuke to the Obama administration coming down strongly against the healthcare reform proposal offered by House Democrats last week.
In a statement posted at the Clinic's Health Policy Blog, one of the most respected medical institutions in the nation said: "[T]he proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite."
"The more these things are made public, the more the American people run like hell from them," Media Research Center President Brent Bozell told the hosts of "Fox & Friends", referring to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that shows Democratic health care proposals will balloon in costs over their implementation. [audio available here]
Indeed, as the Washington Post reported this morning, the latest polling data from Washington Post/ABC News shows that President Obama's approval rating on the health care issue "has dropped below the 50 percent threshold for the first time."
"Here's something else that isn't being reported. The entire health care debate is predicated on the premise that we're having a crisis," Bozell added, referring to new polling data by Zogby International showing that "84 percent of Americans are satisfied or very satisfied with their present health care." What's more, "46 percent without insurance are satisfied, they don't want it, for whatever reason. So there is no crisis."
In addition to media coverage of the health care debate, the NewsBusters publisher also appeared in a second segment of the July 20 "Fox & Friends" to discuss the labor union card check issue, as well as to announce the MRC's new tongue-in-cheek request for a federal bailout:
Spreading the Word Media Research Center President and NewsBusters.org Publisher Brent Bozell today responded to a poll conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Zogby International that finds that 84 percent of Americans, including 46 percent of Americans without health insurance, are "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the health care they currently receive.
Released on Wednesday, the poll was glaringly absent from most news reports late last week and over the weekend.
Bozell today called on the media to stop reporting on the American health care system as a "crisis" situation, as the facts simply belie the claim.
Newsweek engaged itself deeper in the battle for nationalized health care by turning over its cover story -- “We're Almost There” -- to Senator Ted Kennedy for his lengthy personal recitation of “the cause of my life.” ABC and NBC on Sunday night dutifully championed his cause as World News anchor Dan Harris highlighted how “Kennedy is using his own battle against brain cancer to make an emotional pitch for health care reform” and NBC reporter Mike Viqueira touted:
Today, another dramatic push, this time from an ailing Ted Kennedy, absent from Washington but appearing on the cover of Newsweek and writing: “This is the cause of my life. We will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege.”
This wasn't the first time NBC has enlisted Kennedy to trumpet Obama's quest. Back in early March when the White House held a summit on health care, reporter Chuck Todd appropriated the coach who inspired “win one for the Gipper” by touting on NBC Nightly News how “the President's drive to pass health care got a Knute Rockne-like boost with a surprise appearance” by Kennedy.
A night after CBS and NBC skipped the assessment from the chief of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the Senate and House health plans won't meet President Obama's pledge to not increase deficit spending, the two networks caught up only when Obama, reacting to “anxiety” even from Democrats, addressed the setback to his quest late Friday. CBS anchor Katie Couric spun the bad news for Obama into “a warning” from him about the ominous fate which awaits Americans if he does not succeed.
“Also tonight, a warning from the President,” she teased Friday's CBS Evening News before a clip of Obama with a very suspect claim: “If we don't get health care reform done now, then no one's health insurance is going to be secure.” Couric introduced the story by portraying Obama as the hero trying to reach a noble goal: “President Obama today continued his hard sell for health care reform, but he also had to do a little doctoring, treating a case of sticker shock over the latest proposals for insuring nearly every American.” Chip Reid related that “with anxiety surging over the cost of health care reform, the President today sought to reassure the public and nervous members of Congress” a day after the CBO director “sent shock waves through Capitol Hill.”
The House Ways and Means committee approved a half-trillion dollar tax increase overnight, but the ABC and NBC morning news shows offered only a single sentence to the development, while CBS’s Early Show skipped it entirely.
Neither NBC’s Today nor ABC’s Good Morning America mentioned the tax increases $544 billion price tag, as each newscast folded the development into larger pieces on President Obama’s push for health care “reform.”
ABC’s Deborah Roberts first gave a mere two sentences to the CBO report that contradicts White House claims that Obama’s plan would save money. She then mentioned the big tax increase: “Meantime, a House committee approved billions in new taxes on the wealthy to pay for the reforms.”
It is one thing for conservatives to criticize President Obama's QAHCAA (Quality, Affordable Health Coverage for All Americans) health care plan but now even a number of liberals are attacking it as unworkable. We recently saw skepticism emanating from Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski and now fellow liberal Susan Estrich is expressing deep doubt that any such plan is economically feasable. Estrich kicks off her column with a sarcastic look at the "success" of Obama's stimulus plan:
The stimulus program must really be succeeding in Washington, D.C. Government is hiring; people are working. In fact, if news reports are to be believed, they're working night and day. So maybe there's some sleep deprivation thrown in for good measure. And don't forget the legendary heat and humidity that made service in the nation's Capitol hazardous before the advent of air conditioning.
What other explanation could there be for my friends in Congress and the administration thinking that what the country wants them to do right now is raise taxes and spend a trillion dollars to overhaul health care, much less to push it through in a month in a 1,000-page bill being rewritten every day?
It looks like Time Magazine’s Karen Tumulty is getting scared that we could be losing the healthcare battle so she is urging Obama to “step in” and fix it all for us. Why, only the dulcet tones of The One could save us all from… wait, isn’t this whole thing his deal in the first place?
What is curious with this piece is the fact that Tumulty seems oblivious to the possibility that if healthcare is failing to win the day, that failure could be squarely laid at the president’s feet. After all, it is his campaign promise and his “highest priority” that we tackle healthcare. Yet Tumulty, while mildly scolding Obama for not being hands on enough, is all too willing to blame everyone but Obama for the floundering of the debate.
“Congress's chief budget analyst delivered a devastating assessment yesterday of the health care proposals drafted by congressional Democrats,” the Washington Post reported Friday, but of the broadcast network evening newscasts on Thursday only ABC's World News related how, as Jake Tapper put it, “the President's case was dealt a blow today” when CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf warned the health plans will require massive additional spending.
Noting “House Democrats would impose a surtax of up to 5.4 percent on top wage earners,” Tapper relayed how the Tax Foundation determined it “would push top tax rates to over 50 percent in most of the country. That has moderate House Democrats concerned.” Tapper pointed out that “if the President signed the House bill into law, which he has not ruled out, he would be breaking this campaign promise.” Viewers then saw a clip of Obama from last September: “Everyone in America, everyone, will pay lower taxes than they paid in the 1990s under Bill Clinton.”
Setting up Tapper's piece, ABC anchor Charles Gibson had led with good news for President Obama: “President Obama is a man on a mission. Everywhere he goes these days, he's pushing health care reform. He got a boost today. The American Medical Association said it supports it -- supports the House Democratic bill, that is. The AMA says that version of health care reform expands coverage but still gives patients a choice of plans.”
BMI's Julia A. Seymour discussed the media's sparse reporting on health care reform's impact on small businesses July 16 on the Fox Business Network. Anchor Stuart Varney asked, "Is Washington waging war on small business? And is the news media ignoring it?" Seymour told him:
Yes, I think in - in many cases they are. If you look at last night's evening news coverage of this health care reform bill, or as you, you called it, uh, wealth reform bill, two networks out of three ignored the plight of small businesses altogether. Only CBS' Chip Reid did a story talking about the impact of sma- on small business of this bill.
What a difference a few hours makes. On the July 15 “World News with Charles Gibson,” ABC medical expert Dr. Tim Johnson interviewed President Obama about his healthcare reform proposals and grilled the president over the cost of the bill, benefits, and primary care. But by the next morning Johnson was back to form, parroting the administration’s line on “Good Morning America.” Johnson often cheerleads for the Obama administration and socialized medicine.
Introducing Johnson, Robin Roberts said, “Tim, President Obama and others, they keep saying, that in the long run, we're going to save money while expanding coverage. As you know, many are skeptical about that statement.”
NBC, ABC and CBS all aired exclusive interviews with President Barack Obama last night discussing his sweeping plans to assume government control over the nation's health care industry. But none of the networks seemed aware of the bombshell easily discovered by Investor's Business Daily and confirmed by the House Ways and Means Committee: a provision in the bill that severely limits private health insurance choice.
Page 16 of the House bill, IBD reported, appears to make it illegal to "enroll any individual in such [private health insurance] coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell called on anyone reporting on the bill read it before making the same mistake:
This post proves the point, as if it even needs to be proven, that you have to go to the editorial pages of publications like the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily to get your news when leftists are in control of the government.
When the topic is statist health care, that's doubly true.
IBDeditorials.com got to Page 16 of the House's health care bill, did the investigative work the establishment media was either too lazy to do -- or worse, other outlets did the work and didn't think readers should know what IBD found.
Yesterday afternoon, IBD laid the following bombshell on its readers (HT to dscott; I also heard Rush mention this a short time ago; bolds after title are mine):
It's Not An Option
Congress: It didn't take long to run into an "uh-oh" moment when reading the House's "health care for all Americans" bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.
When you claim that a grassroots group isn't a grassroots group -- beware of actual grassroots activists.
That's the lesson reporter Sharon Male of Parade Magazine learned when she attacked Patients United Now, the health care project of the free-market Americans for Prosperity Foundation, in the July 12 magazine. Under the headline "Are Grassroots Activists for Real?" she claimed that some "so-called grassroots campaigns" "are actually sophisticated marketing campaigns financed by businesses and special interest groups." Male cited the leftist Public Citizen's accusations of "astroturf" campaigns led by "ultra-wealthy individuals who have little in common with regular Americans," and the reporter bemoaned the fact that "grassroots movements are unregulated."
AFP Foundation let its members know Parade was questioning their existence, and they responded by overwhelming Male and her editor with nearly 5,000 e-mails.
Is there a Democrat senator or staffer secretly opposed to the new health care bill introduced by the Senate? One has to wonder because the new Senate health bill is named, "Quality, Affordable Health Coverage for All Americans." The acronym for this bill is the absolutely hilarious QAHCAA. Yes, say it out loud and it is pronounced exactly the way you suspect as in "This health bill is a bunch of QAHCAA."
Perhaps this bill was so named with complete cluelessness as to how it would sound when spoken out loud. In any event, this has to be the absolute worst, but funniest, acronym ever given to a proposed government program. Yes, NewsBusters is the first to point out the hilariousness of QAHCAA but it is inevitable that this acronym will be widely mocked in the blogosphere at large even if the MSM tries to ignore the embarrassment.
Now Congressman John Boehner can again call this health bill a "Pile of sh...." Oops! I mean, "QAHCAA."
Here’s another one of those wonderful examples of how the Old Media will use a headline that makes a stark claim about how rotten Republicans are for opposing a Democratic plan while at the same time conveniently ignoring the opposition to the same idea among Democrats.
This time it is the “partisan divide” in the healthcare debate. The Times tsks Republicans for solidly lining up to oppose Obama’s wild grab for nearly 20 percent of the nation’s economy through his healthcare plans. Yet not once does the Times mention the many areas in which Democrats are disagreeing with Democrats on Obamacare. The Times makes it seem as if there is no dissent among Democrats and it is only those meanie Republicans holding up the wonderfulness of Obamacare.
The White House's decision to offer interviews with the President to the medical doctors who are correspondents for ABC, CBS and NBC paid off Wednesday night with stories that embraced the assumption health care must be reformed; and interviews on CBS and NBC which put Obama's efforts in the best light. Ironically, ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, a long-time advocate for government-directed universal coverage, didn't presume Obama's prescription is benign.
Anchor Katie Couric led the CBS Evening News by making the underlining case for Obama's view that government intervention is needed:
They've been talking about it for decades. President Obama says he wants it done now, as in this summer -- universal health care. As he put it today, it's time for us to buck up. And there are a lot of bucks at stake. Since 1999, health insurance premiums have increased 120 percent -- four times as much as wages. And about one and a half million American families lose their homes to foreclosure every year because of sky high medical bills. A number of proposals are making their way through the House and Senate this week.
In the subsequent story, Chip Reid did spend some time on the burden the new health care requirements would place on small businesses, before CBS played an excerpt from Dr. Jon LaPook's Obama interview in which LaPook empathized: “Mr. President, when people hear you talk about a national insurance plan, there are fears of socialized medicine, rationed care, limited choice. How do you handle this?”