Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 11, 2009

AN 'APPALLING AMOUNT OF MISINFORMATION'.... The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus explained in her new column that she's "not a huge fan" of the House health care bill -- she didn't say why, exactly -- but the columnist ended up cheering for the legislation anyway. Apparently, Marcus heard an "appalling amount of misinformation being peddled" by Republicans, and grew disgusted.

I don't mean the usual hyperbole about "a children-bankrupting, health-care-rationing, freedom-crushing, $1 trillion government takeover of our health-care system," as Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling put it. Or the tired canards about taxpayer-funded abortion or insurance subsidies for illegal immigrants. Or the extraneous claims about alleged Democratic excesses....

I mean the flood of sheer factual misstatements about the health-care bill.

Marcus proceeds to document all kinds of lies from a variety of GOP lawmakers. There were obvious falsehoods about Medicare, taxes, Comparative Effectiveness Research, jobs, and the public option. It was as dishonest a display as one will ever see from one party in one day.

You have to wonder: Are the Republican arguments against the bill so weak that they have to resort to these misrepresentations and distortions?

Good question. When you take an intellectually unserious caucus, add dashes of panic and paranoia, and throw in a healthy dose of ignorance, you end up with a group of people who can't help but lie -- they have nothing else of value to say.

Marcus' column was especially impressive for resisting the urge most of the media establishment gives into: trying to pretend "both sides" are equally bad. It's lazy but common, and Marcus, to her credit, called it like she saw it. There was no need to put a pox on both houses, when only one had earned it.

House Republicans spent the entire debate shamelessly lying. Here's wishing other media figures were as willing as Marcus to say so.

Steve Benen 11:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Comments

Marcus is entitled to her opinions.

Freedom-loving Americans are entitled to theirs too.

Posted by: Al on November 11, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

If Marcus keeps this up she's going to catch up with 70% of the American people.....

Posted by: BGinCHI on November 11, 2009 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Al: freedom-loving equals lies we can believe in.

Posted by: BGinCHI on November 11, 2009 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

As far as I know, with the exception of the Cheneys and the Bushes and some of their fellow travellers, ALL Americans are freedom loving. They are entitled to their own opinions. They are not entitled to their own facts, regardless of which side of the ideological fence they sit.

Posted by: molly bloom on November 11, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Al has clearly never heard Daniel Patrick Moynihan's famous quote: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."

Or maybe he honestly doesn't understand the difference between the two.

Posted by: Jon on November 11, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Al, you dope. They can have their own opinions, but they can't have their own facts.

And since their opinions are based on lies, they aren't worth much.

Posted by: David in NY on November 11, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Jon beat me to it, and sourced it too.

Posted by: David in NY on November 11, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Al is a *troll*, people. Stop feeding him/her/it.

Posted by: Shade Tail on November 11, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I am reading a lot of discussion of what the bill (as written) won't do, or might not do. What good things to people think it will do as written?

I think it will greatly reduce medical bankruptcy in the US (expanded coverage, less insurance company exclusion, medicare prescription doughnut hole closed, more medicaid).

I think it will greatly expand health insurance coverage for lower income working people (subsidies, pools to help small businesses, medicaid).

I think it will significantly reduce wasteful emergency room visits (more coverage means less emergencies as people get worse while hoping to get better without seeing a doctor).

I think it will slightly improve preventative care (more coverage means more preventative visits).

I think fewer people will die for lack of care (more coverage).

I think fewer people will die in awful circumstances lacking medical care (more coverage).

Posted by: JeffF on November 11, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Marcus' column was especially impressive for resisting the urge most of the media establishment gives into: trying to pretend "both sides" are equally bad."

Exactly. That's why watching PBS's NewHour when they discuss HCR is practically impossible.

Posted by: leo on November 11, 2009 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

You have to wonder: Are the Republican arguments against the bill so weak that they have to resort to these misrepresentations and distortions?

Yes you do have to wonder. And it was wondering about this very question that was the best way to figure out in advance that Bush was lying about WMD.

When it comes to explaining what's wrong with American politics, the answer is very simple:

Its the LYING, stupid

People, especially journalists, need to ask themselves Marcus' question more often. People who have the truth on their side don't need to lie and even if they are moral nihilists still wouldn't lie when the truth is on their side because it creates an unnecessary and counterproductive risk.

Posted by: The Fool on November 11, 2009 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently the rethugs are planning 50 townhalls to kill healthcare, this week. The rethugs have been saying they support the troops but apparently 2265 troops died last year from lack of health insurance, seems like the support for the troops is about the same as the support for a fetus, that only lasts till birth, then the child is forgotten as far as education, healthcare etc.

Posted by: JS on November 11, 2009 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently the rethugs are planning 50 townhalls to kill healthcare, this week.

There's only one way to distract 'em, and 'tis the season. Announce a coordinated, union-staffed effort to pressure Wal*Mart and other chains into plastering "Happy Kwanzaa! We Hate Jesus!" signs all over their stores.

Posted by: shortstop on November 11, 2009 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Marcus: "Are the Republican arguments against the bill so weak that they have to resort to these misrepresentations and distortions?"

YES !

This is yet another edition of your simple answers to simple questions series.

Posted by: Joe Friday on November 11, 2009 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Or the tired canards about taxpayer-funded abortion or insurance subsidies for illegal immigrants.

Uh, it took a last minute amendment to forbid taxpayer-funded abortion. An amendment that Democrats will, in all likelihood, kill in the Senate or reconciliation. Obama can then explain to America that he was wrong (or lying) when he said the health care reform won't cover abortion.

Posted by: Jayson on November 11, 2009 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom according to Al: I am free to take orders, free to surrender my will and independent thinking, free to be dominated by a school of thought that does absolutely nothing to promote a better life for me and my family.

Yes it's people like Al; the lemmings, the 'conservative' folks who must be ruled with an iron fist (just like their Islamic counterparts) who will be the downfall of this once great nation.

You just can't cure stupid, and America is sick with it.

Posted by: citizen_pain on November 11, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Jayson.

"Obama can then explain to America that he was wrong (or lying) when he said the health care reform won't cover abortion."

Ah, no.

Paying for a medical procedure out of one's own pocket, by definition, means it is not included in your healthcare coverage.

Posted by: Joe Friday on November 11, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, quit your whining, Jason. There'll be status quo language in the Senate bill, but you won't get the outrageous expansion of meddling you had in the House bill.

Posted by: shortstop on November 11, 2009 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, Jay, son... That last minute amendment killed access to almost *all* abortions, even privately funded. The ban on the federally (taxpayer) funded ones had been in it for ages. But, by all means, have your own facts, since you have nothing else.

Posted by: exlibra on November 11, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Jayson, your concern about abortion and sanctity of life would be a lot more believable if you people gave a shit about human beings AFTER THEY WERE BORN. You may think that life begins at conception, and that is you're right, but I can tell you that life doesn't END AT BIRTH.

Posted by: citizen_pain on November 11, 2009 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

What I still don't understand is how the shameless rhetoric of the republicans makes this bill any less of a disaster. It is basically just a massive subsidy of private insurance that preserves the pricing power of doctors and hospitals, and thus does very little to contain costs. Universal coverage under these conditions is completely unsustainable.

The only thing whining about republican rhetoric does is deflect attention away from this shamelessly - and at this point we might be honest and include hopelessly - corrupt democratic caucus.

Posted by: Jason on November 11, 2009 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I am amazed that such an opinion found its way to the Washington Post op-ed page.

Ms. Marcus should start circulating her resume, just in case.

Posted by: JD on November 11, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

The ban on the federally (taxpayer) funded ones had been in it for ages. But, by all means, have your own facts, since you have nothing else.

Sorry, toots. If you mean the Hyde Amendment - that wouldn't cover the new health care reform. Why? Since the Hyde Amendment only covers Medicaid. And yes, there's another bill entirely that deals with abortions under the military health care system. Neither of those bills, written before the new health care reform, would have covered it. If you actually had read the reform bill before Stupak, you'd have realized it.

I see no reason why abortions should be funded via taxpayer dollars, especially with voters almost equally against abortion as for it. And as for the poor mothers, isn't that what Planned Parenthood (which receives how much in federal aid?) is for?

Posted by: Jayson on November 11, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

You have to wonder: Are the Republican arguments against the bill so weak that they have to resort to these misrepresentations and distortions?

That's possible, but the main reason is that the Republicans know that coming up with misrepresentations and distortions (lies) is easier than coming up with real arguments and counter-proposals, and media like the Washington Post will let them get away with it.

Posted by: qwerty on November 11, 2009 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

You have to wonder: Are the Republican arguments against the bill so weak that they have to resort to these misrepresentations and distortions?

Well I would ask the same about many of the people who criticize HR3962 from the left. For example the people that say it has no premium controls. (It does). The ones that say insurance companies don't have to cover procedures they don't want to. (They have to cover everything in the Essential Benefits Package which is pretty comprehensive).

Frankly a lot of people who are trashing HR3962 in favor of HR676's so called Medicare for All (so called because that is not at all what the bill does) are either liars, illiterate, or simply too lazy to have actually read and contrasted the two bills. Because most of them seem to be working out of two bills that exist only in their own imaginations.

This isn't intended to give Republicans a free pass, because they lie about EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME. But there is a fair amount of demagoguery flowing from the left on this particular topic.

There is a perfectly reasonable Medicare for All Bill out there, it was released under that tag in April 2007 and is otherwise known as Kennedy-Dingell. But there is a reason why Kennedy as the leader author of the HELP Bill and Dingell as the lead author of the Tri-Committee bill that forms the core of the final House version didn't start writing this years legislation using their own bill language from the last Congress. And it wasn't because they had a last minute conversion to the cause of bending over America for the pleasure of the Insurance Industry. After decades of fruitlessly pushing for the really good, they each decided to settle for the pretty damn good given the political realities.

And they did good. Apart from the truly despicable Stupak crap, this really is an excellent bill that is being willfully distorted mostly by the right but also by a certain near-fanatical faction of the left that has been listened to by too many more grounded progressives. If something about the bill sounds too horrible to be true, maybe you should ask WHY the bill does what people say it does. Because most times it doesn't, either the language doesn't mean what opponents say or those effects are offset elsewhere in the bill.

This bill is NOT a huge giveaway to the insurance companies. But to understand why you have to read and understand the most important sentence in the bill. I could copy it here but in interest of having people get access to the full text of the bill (prior to it being Stupaked) I'll only tell you it is in Section 102 of the House Bill as introduced by Pelosi.

It is rather an ingenious feedback mechanism that simply guts the insurance industries current model based on predation and replaces it with one where profits are found not by denying care and only insuring the healthy few but instead by supplying efficient service to the most representative cross section achievable. But given the current state of conversation you will never even see it if you don't go to the text itself.

Posted by: Bruce Webb on November 11, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why cling to the principle of balance when only 20% of Americans identify themselves with the Party making one side of an argument?

Posted by: bob h on November 11, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

"...When you take an intellectually unserious caucus, add dashes of panic and paranoia, and throw in a healthy dose of ignorance, you end up with a group of people who can't help but lie -- they have nothing else of value to say..."- Benen

What a dainty polite put down. Despicable condescending scoundrels and the kings of hypocrisy who cannot go out in public without security based on their rudeness to women (I object, I object, I object, I object) without fear of being smacked and slapped... and then laughingly holding up babies to make a smear thinking they are so original and cute. Their nature is such that lying is as natural as breathing.

How could anyone want these low life scum to be involved in making our laws and public policies. Just pathetic.

We need better dems but republicans must be defeated no matter where they appear for they are lock step in their vileness.

The nation votes liberal progressive on all the major issues when polled no matter how they label them selves yet our media would have us believe otherwise and lie right along with their corporate owned republicans. They try to demonize the word liberal when our founding fathers were liberal. Republicans have become a cancer on our democracy and need to be eradicated so here's hoping more and more media figures keep pointing out it's no longer both sides do it...just the repubs.

Posted by: bjobotts on November 11, 2009 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK
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