I guess I am getting a little more grouchy lately, whether from the
simple cantankerousness of aging, or being driven to distraction by a world that seems to have lost its mind.
I'm a self-confessed NewsWonk and my daily routine includes at least scanning a
dozen or so news sources each day. The problem is that lately,
there's not a single "above the fold" news topic on which I agree with
the mainstream media consensus opinion. Either I'm suffering the first humiliations of OldTimers, or things are getting pretty loopy out there.
Here's an example. The Republicans put forward a health care reform bill for
consideration by the House of Representatives. It's about 200 pages long, and
available online for anyone to read at: http://www.gop.gov/solutions/healthcare.
That's newsworthy in and of itself considering that the Democrats have
broken their promise to have their 2000+ page healthcare bill3 available for
public viewing 72 hours before any vote.
More to the point though is that the GOP proposal seems, on the face of it,
to make some very sensible and cost effective first steps in reforming American
health care. The bi-partisan CBO2, estimated the ten year cost of the GOP bill at
$61 billion, that's 97% less than the trillion dollar Democrat Bill that House
leaders plan to bring to the floor as soon as this weekend. The CBO analysis
also indicated the GOP bill would reduce the national debt and lower the cost of
health care insurance for most Americans.
I understand that any really serious liberal voter really wants the whole
enchilada, complete single payer universal government provided health care. I
can accept that they believe that this would be a good thing, and we have some
common ground. I'd really like to see health care dramatically improved, and the
cost of it reduced and presumably even the most hard core ObamaCare supporter
would agree with those goals. If we share the desire to move towards better
quality, less expensive and more accessible health care it should be a good
start towards agreeing on what should be done. Right?
But the reaction on the liberal left and in the "mainstream media"
is a petty, inflammatory and dismissive rejection of every idea in the GOP plan.
Apparently any health care proposal other than the nebulous monstrosities that
the Democrats keep trying to ram through Congress is beneath contempt. Or at
least beneath any serious analysis or discussion.
So I ask the question, how are we supposed to believe that ObamaCare is the
proper course of action when we can't even seem to have an honest and objective
conversation about it?
To get very specific, let me address a news / analysis of the GOP plan that
appeared on the National Public Radio website this week. In the 5 November NPR
analysis of the Republican healthcare proposal, titled "House Republicans'
Overhaul Would Insure 3 Million More People," the author Scott Hensley
posits a rhetorical question:
"This is health overhaul?" Mr. Hensley demands, as though the
answer were either utterly opaque to him, or simply preposterous to consider.
In a tragic display of journalistic malpractice, Mr. Hensley then proceeds to
dance around some of the main points and benefits of the GOP proposal, helpfully
elucidating each putative benefit with a corresponding evil.
To an informed reader, or anyone gifted with a modicum of common sense,
the pathos is palpable because the more effort Hensley pours into disparaging the
GOP Plan, the better it sounds.
Here are a few examples, but I'd encourage you to go read the whole piece at
This is health overhaul? --Well, yes Mr. Hensley, that's why the GOP
is calling it the "House GOP Health Care Reform Bill" Unlike
the Democrat drafts, this one is actually available for public review. That's
newsworthy in and of itself. Here's a link in case you're having trouble finding
CBO figures about 3 million more people would have health coverage a decade
from now. Hey, that doesn't sound like a bad thing, at least it's headed
in the right direction.
the GOP proposal, by design, focuses more on cost and the deficit. Wow,
what an arcane perspective. You mean it would actually try to REDUCE the
national debt? Imagine that. Might of been useful to the reader if Hensley
mentioned that the estimated cost of the GOP plan is $61 billion, 93% less than
the $1 trillion estimate for the Democratic bill that House leaders are hoping
to rush through as soon as this weekend.
Lots of people with insurance would pay less for it. That doesn't
sound so terrible either. You mean people like me, actual middleclass taxpayers
could have their insurance premiums go lower? Revolutionary concept.
the Republican's proposals to curb medical malpractice would cut health
spending by $41 billion Uh Oh! You mean those pesty ambulance-chasing
lawyers on the radio and television would have to find some other blood to suck?
I guess we could live with that.
I could go on, but let's just say the myopic Mr. Hensley is sort of missing
the point. To most Americans, a two hundred page bill that anyone can read
online, which actually reduces our health care costs, lowers the national debt,
makes coverage more portable and chases the lawyers out of our doctor's office
sounds pretty damned good.
More importantly, Mr. Hensley makes it crystal clear that his only apparent
goal for any health care reform is to immediately institute universal coverage
for every warm body in the United States, regardless of the cost. If there were
a way to do that magically, without cost or unintended consequences we'd all sign up,
but there isn't.
Hensley sums it up this way, "the bill wouldn't cost much--or put much
of a dent in the ranks of the uninsured." Fair enough Scotty, but most
Americans are really scared of the high cost and governmental expansion
components of ObamaCare. The GOP proposal sounds like a really good first step
I hate to end this on a sour note, so let's indulge in a little allegory to lighten the mood.
Little Scotty Hensley enters the K Street Starbucks with his beloved Mum and his stern and unyielding Father. Scotty orders a mondo-gratissimo Kopi Luwak latte with free-range acai tincture and Himalayan goat creme frappe. The Barrista takes this in stride but informs Scotty that the bill for this will be one trillion dollars. Not to worry though Scotty, he's got a special today on the Grande Caffè Misto for only a buck and he'll throw in a dollop of whipped cream for free. Scotty's face congeals into a masque of blotchy anger, he stomps his feet, erupts in tears and threatens to burn the store down if he can't have exactly what he desires. Mum sees things his way as usual and immediately goes to the bank next door to see if she can get a trillion dollar loan, while Father rolls his eyes in the general direction of his errant son. The crowd rumbles malevolently at Father and someone calls Child Protective Services to report a hate crime in progress. On the evening news, Keith Olbermann looks grim and concerned as he relates the breaking story that Father is torturing children, and probably puppies too. President Obama expresses concern.
1 Hensley's NPR Article:
2 CBO Report on the GOP Alternative:http://gopleader.gov/UploadedFiles/hr3962amendmentBoehner.pdf
3 Full Text of the Democrat Health Care Bill: http://www.defendyourhealthcare.us./congressionalbills.html
4 Analysis of the Democrat Health Care Bill: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704795604574519671055918380.html
FWIW, I know that emotions run high on this topic. I'm all about
the ideas, not the people, and I'll apologize in advance if I've offended
you. There are already plenty of hard feelings out there. Anyway, don't be offended if I fail to engage in /msgs over this. If you disagree, research it and write it up for all of us to enjoy.
Update, New York Times - 44 minutes ago
Lawmakers in the House voted 220 to 215 on Saturday night to approve a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system4. Only one Republican voted for the bill, and 39 Democrats opposed it, including 24 members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats. A Republican alternative was rejected on a near party line vote of 258-176.