In highlighting a new study which found $147 billion a year is spent on obesity-related health care and obese people spend $1,400 more a year for health services, ABC and CBS on Monday night couldn't resist interjecting a plug for imposing a tax on soda to bring in revenue to pay for ObamaCare.
ABC's Sharyn Alfonsi asserted “health officials seem to like the idea of a federal soda tax” since “adding a tax of three cents a can to high-calorie sodas could generate $24 billion over the next four years,” and while “opponents argue Americans won't tolerate another tax,” supporters “say it could cut health care costs and America's ever- expanding bottom line, all at once.”
Following a full CBS Evening News story on the obesity report, anchor Katie Couric set up a story on the tax idea: “Now, some believe another way to help pay for health care reform is to put a tax on one of the causes of obesity: soft drinks full of sugar. Nancy Cordes has more on that.” Cordes began: “Americans consume roughly 250 more calories everyday than they did in the '70s and half those calories come from sugary drinks, which is why some health advocates are urging Congress to help pay for health care reform with a tax on non-diet sodas...”
CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux made an apparent Freudian slip in response to a sound bite on health care reform from Senator Mitch McConnell on Monday’s American Morning. Malveaux initially labeled McConnell’s remark, in which the Senate Minority Leader cracked that the “only thing bipartisan about the measures so far is the opposition to them,” as a “snippy little phrase there” [audio clip from the segment available here].
The correspondent filed a report just after the beginning of the 6 am Eastern hour about the Obama’s administration and Democratic leaders’ efforts to get their health care “reform” package passed in Congress. Malveaux stated that “obviously, in public, there’s a lot of confidence. You heard Nancy Pelosi. You talk to White House aides....In an e-mail that I got this morning, however, one of the top White House aides was saying, look, this is a time when it’s important that the president look credible- look viable, still in this debate, and that the one thing that they are trying to get across to folks is that he is still a player in this, that he has not lost his political capital, despite the fact that he...did not get what he wanted this time around.”
A week after ABC anchor Dan Harris hailed how “Senator Ted Kennedy is using his own battle against brain cancer to make an emotional pitch for health care reform. Writing in Newsweek, Kennedy called it 'the cause of my life,'” Sunday's World News devoted a full story to Kennedy's cause as Harris' tease framed Kennedy's big government agenda in the most-benign light: “In the game. An ailing Ted Kennedy, now working from his sick bed to achieve his life-long goal of health care for everyone.”
He introduced the subsequent story: “Behind the scenes, Senator Ted Kennedy, a man who has called this his life's work, is playing a surprisingly large role, despite his brain tumor.” Reporter John Hendren fretted: “Senator Edward Kennedy is the missing man in the battle for health care reform. On Capitol Hill, nearly everyone agrees things would be different if the liberal lion were here.”
Hendren went back to March to show a clip of President Obama saluting Kennedy -- “To Sir Edward Kennedy. That's the kind of greeting a knight deserves. It is thrilling to see you here, Teddy” -- before effusing over how “in his absence, his colleagues invoke his name, hoping also to borrow his legislative prowess.” Nonetheless, Hendren concluded, passing Obama's health agenda has been “made harder by the absence of its top advocate on Capitol Hill.” As if that's a bad thing.
In late April, the Associated Press's Calvin Woodward, in a "Fact Check" report ("Obama disowns deficit he helped shape"), hit President Barack Obama's claims that he and his party don't deserve much of the blame for the size of this year's deficit pretty hard. It was such a surprise that I wondered who had put truth serum in his coffee.
Well, you might have guessed it would be Calvin Woodard doing the primary honors in an AP Fact Check that again takes aim at the President, this time over his health care bill. With the co-bylined help of Jim Kuhnhenn and contributions from Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Woodward and his team went after several claims made by Obama at his Wednesday press conference that don't stand up to scrutiny.
ABC, CBS and NBC all led Friday night with President Obama’s decision to appear in the White House press room to backtrack on the fury he inflamed by presuming “stupidity” by the police in the Professor Henry Gates alleged “racial profiling” incident, but only Katie Couric trumpeted Obama’s appearance in the White House briefing room -- which the CBS Evening News ran for an uninterrupted four solid minutes -- as “extraordinary” and “really unprecedented,” before she pouted over how “the timing could not be worse. Just as he was pushing so hard for health care reform and having some pretty serious setbacks.”
She pressed Bob Schieffier to provide Obama with guidance to get back on track on health care: “And how do you think the President can, if he can, resuscitate this whole effort?” Schieffer advised the obvious: “What he's got to do, I think now, is set out some specific things that he wants them to do and then push them to do it.” (Between the four minutes of Obama and when Couric turned to Schieffer, CBS aired a piece from reporter Bill Whitaker on why blacks fear the police.)
It’s not surprising that Democrats treat the health-insurance industry as an enemy – an enemy that "single payer" advocates actually want to eliminate and liquidate.
But The Washington Post published an article Wednesday attacking insurance-industry claims that should have come with a "news analysis" label at the very least. Reporter David Hilzenrath’s story was headlined "Health Insurance Industry Spins Data in Fight Against Public Plan."
It reads like an attempt to rebut industry critics of the Democrat talking points, and suggest they "cherry pick the facts" in their arguments:
Indeed, the leader of the insurance lobby has sent lawmakers a message: Be careful what you change, because "77 percent of Americans are satisfied with their existing health insurance coverage."
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos giddily appraised President Obama during Thursday’s Good Morning America: “It’s clear, listening to the President last night, that he knows his stuff. He knows health care policy.” He also predicted that the passage of the Democrat’s health care “reform” plan was “closer” after the presser, despite his later admission that it had been delayed until after August.
The This Week anchor appeared early in the 7 am hour to analyze the press conference. GMA anchor Diane Sawyer first asked: “Closer to a health care bill this morning or further away?” Stephanopoulos replied: “Closer -- and it’s clear -- listening to the President last night, that he knows his stuff. He knows health care policy. I also think he made a strong case against the status quo. We just couldn’t keep doing what we’re doing right now.”
The only negative remark that the former Clinton administration official made was in analyzing the President’s success in forwarding his plan. Stephanopoulos hinted that the blame belonged more with Congress: “I think he was less successful...in selling what he wants to do in part because...he doesn’t have a single plan to sell right now.”
NBC's medical correspondent, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, was “rooting” for President Barack Obama to do well in selling his health care takeover during his Wednesday night press conference: “As a physician, you know, I felt like I understood the complexity of the problem. As an American citizen, I was rooting for the President to hit a home run.”
On the 10 PM EDT Hardball an hour after Obama wrapped up, Snyderman, who hosts the noon EDT weekday hour on MSNBC, fretted that he had “whiffed” in not making some persuasive points, such as using “plain talk to take the scare out of things like rationing, which basically is what's going on now -- some people get medicines, some people don't. It didn't come through tonight.” She also ominously warned of disaster if Obama does not prevail: “We're going to pay big time if we don't get this. I don't think we're going to be a great world power.”
[Update, 8:24 pm Eastern: Audio and video clips from the interview added.]
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was a bit surprised by Rudy Giuliani’s answer during Wednesday’s Situation Room, after asking the former mayor to reassess his prediction last year about “on-the-job training” for a President Obama. Blitzer inquired whether his “worst fears [had] come true.” Giuliani answered, “In many respects, it’s much worse than I thought.” The anchor merely replied, “Really?” [audio clips from the interview are available here].
Blitzer’s question and response to the former mayor’s answer occurred near the end of the interview, after the two had discussed gun control and health care. The anchor played a clip from Giuliani’s speech last year at the Republican convention in Minneapolis, where he bashed the then-candidate Obama’s modicum of experience: “John McCain has been tested- Barack Obama has not. Tough times require strong leadership, and this is no time for on-the-job training.”
The CNN anchor complimented Giuliani for the “good sound bite from the speech,” and asked for his assessment of the Obama presidency so far. The Republican’s answer led to Blitzer’s surprised reaction, and the anchor asked for an explanation:
The PBS "To the Contrary" host and U.S. News & World Report contributing editor slammed the idea floating in Congress of adding a surtax on "the rich" to pay for health care:
Perhaps Democrats are developing some sensitivity on their "tax the rich" theme. I can't see NOT taxing the rich. It's just that I disagree with the Democrats' definition of rich. The only way to fairly assess all Americans for the ridiculously expensive programs Democrats are pushing is to enact a flat income tax. Then upper-income persons necessarily pay more in taxes, as 10 percent of $100,000 is a lot more than 10 percent of $20,000. But that'll never happen, so tax-hungry Democrats are going the route of class wars.
Fortunately for us, and you, our cranial pressure reduced when we came across the requisite Bush-bashing packed deeper in her blog post:
While reporting on President Obama’s efforts to pass health care reform legislation on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez cited one person who would benefit from the plan: "Debby Smith from Virginia...lost her job back in 2006, and lost her health care benefits, and says that she can't afford the $700 a month that it would cost take to pay for her own insurance."
What Rodriguez failed to mention was that Smith was an Obama volunteer. During a July 1 health care town hall meeting, the President singled out Smith, giving her a hug as she tearfully told her story of lacking health insurance for cancer treatments. That night, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric reported: "Debby Smith is a volunteer for Mr. Obama's political operation Organizing for America. The White House invited her to attend. The President called her exhibit A in a system that's too expensive and too complicated."
On Wednesday, Rodriguez took no note of Smith’s activism on behalf of Obama but did describe her as "the prototypical person that this [health care] proposal would help."
President Obama and other liberals have frequently criticized the previous administration for a lack of transparency. But now it seems the Obama White House is practicing the same things liberals criticized President Bush and Vice President Cheney for.
So on the July 22 edition of “Fox and Friends,” anchor Brian Kilmeade brought to viewer’s attention the Obama administration’s hypocrisy on their usage of the “Presidential Communication Privilege.”
Kilmeade recalled the “outrage” that erupted during the two terms of President Bush when energy executives met in secret with Vice President Dick Cheney and the public questioned their influence on the President’s energy plan. The administration claimed “Presidential Communication Privilege,” and never released the names. Subsequently, “Bush was vilified because of that.”
Hypocritically, President Obama has done the exact same thing with his health care plan. Fourteen different executives involved with the drug, medical, and hospital industries, have gone to the White House to advise the President on the health care reform bill.
In her Tuesday interview with President Obama, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric wondered: "You're so confident, Mr. President, and so focused. Is your confidence ever shaken? Do you ever wake up and say, ‘Damn, this is hard. Damn, I'm not going to get the things done I want to get done and it’s just too politicized to really get accomplished the big things I want to accomplish’?" [audio available here]
In her last interview with Obama, during the debate over the stimulus package in February, Couric also portrayed Obama as a victim of Washington: "You campaigned to change the culture in Washington, to change the politics as usual culture here. Are you frustrated? Do you think it is much, much harder to do that than you ever anticipated?"
Most of Couric’s latest presidential interview was aired on Tuesday’s Evening News, however, the question about Obama’s confidence was saved for Wednesday’s Early Show. At the top of the CBS morning show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez informed viewers about the President’s press conference scheduled for Wednesday night: "President Obama goes prime time tonight, taking the battle for health care reform directly to the American people."
ABC anchor Chris Cuomo played the liberal emotion card and asked California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger during an interview on Wednesday’s Good Morning America if Republicans were “playing politics” with President Obama’s health care “reform” proposal, and whether this was turning into a “little bit of a reckless situation” on the part of the GOP. [audio available here]
Cuomo first put the health care issue in the context of California’s budget woes, and started out of the gate with his plea to people’s emotions in his first question to the governor: “Your state is somewhat of a window into the reality of health care. You’ve been pictured at your desk with a big knife, having to cut the budget- over $1 billion in health care cuts. It’s going to affect low-income families. It’s going to affect the coverage that children get. Is this absolutely necessary?”
After Schwarzenegger’s answer, the ABC anchor then turned to the president’s proposal for health care “reform,” and asked the liberal Republican governor why he supported it. The former actor clarified that he didn’t 100% support Obama’s plan, “because I don’t know exactly what is in that bill. It changes all the time, as you know.” Cuomo followed up by asking if he was leaning towards supporting it. Schwarzenegger again didn’t give a solid answer.
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: