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November 22, 2013

Mark Halperin: Gee, I Guess You're Right, I Guess Maybe The Media Didn't Really Vet Obamacare to the Extent It Vetted, Say, Joe the Plumber

Really?

I brought this up in the podcast-- I think Eekdahl agreed with me. The media is attempting to claim they were snookered by Obamacare, same as us.

Well, not us. We got it. But the media is now claiming that they were snookered along with the rest of the Low Information Voters.

Sort of like they're turning to us now, after having echoed Obama's lies about Obamacare for five years, and saying, "Can you believe the bullshit this guy is tellin' us...?"

Um, guys? You told us the same bullshit.

You know how Obama poses as a spectator to his own Administration? As someone who has no responsibility to actually do a good job, but only to criticize the government when it fails to do a good job?

Watch Politico attempt the same maneuver here-- apparently forgetting that as a news operation focused only on DC and the laws promulgated there, they had a responsibility to report the actual facts about Obamacare:

[Headline:] Obamacare tradeoffs: Now they tell us …

They're telling you this now? Were you incapable of reading the law or the Federal Register? Did you feel no obligation to check the veracity of Obama's claims? Did you feel that Senator Enzi's detailed chapter-and-verse explanation of how Obamacare would boot off millions from their insurance companies was Obviously A Lie, just because he's a conservative?

Did you have any responsibility to look into this a little bit more thoroughly than not at all?

But the problem with Obamacare’s stumbling start is that it shined a harsh light on intended consequences — more costs and more government regulation — that were always embedded in the ACA but were deliberately downplayed by Obama and Democrats on the way to passage.

If these things were always embedded (which they were), why did no news organizations report them?

...

It is, in many respects, a classic social welfare program. Like other social programs, it involves transferring from haves to have-nots. Healthy people are going to have to pay to help sick people get coverage. People who had skimpy coverage before — and in some cases, not-so-skimpy coverage — will have to upgrade to insurance that covers more things, but costs more. And young people will have to pay so older people don’t face sky-high premiums.

...

It is not as if these trade-offs — the kind required by any big social program — were not understood by experts at the time Obamacare was being debated in 2009 and 2010. But they certainly weren’t part of the pitch Obama and the Democrats made to the rest of America — the people who shouldn’t have had to read between the lines to know what was going to happen.

I agree. If only we had some kind of institution whose primary mission it was to scrutinize the claims of politicians, contact experts, and report the major facts about major new legislation to the public.

But alas, it seems we don't.

Politico does get around, obliquely, to defending themselves and the rest of the media on this.

Any guesses?

Go ahead, guess.

If you said "By blaming Republicans," you're smarter than you look.

Republicans in Congress have been quick to say that they warned of the dangers of the law. But the truth is that they sounded the alarms about so many threats, including dubious assertions about death panels and the slippery slope to a Canadian-style single-payer health care system, that they never put any sustained focus on the very specific tradeoffs people are seeing now.

Politico, the "experts" on public policy, continues showing off its colossal ignorance. In fact, the original proposal was a slippery slope to single payer health care; the architect of it admitted that, saying that it couldn't be called a "Trojan Horse for single payer," because it's "right there."

In other words, it can't be a Trojan Horse if it is so obviously smuggling in Single Payer. If you're so overt about your intention, people can't accuse you of dishonesty.

Furthermore, even high-ranking Democrats, like Harry Reid, publicly confessed the public option was a way to move towards single payer. When asked if the public option was a means towards displacing the private insurance market and moving us towards single payer, he responded: "Absolutely yes."

Once Joe Lieberman got wind of this -- when Richmond's and Sexton's scoop got into the pages of the Wall Street Journal -- he insisted the public option be removed, or else the Democrats would not have his vote. So the Democrats went to this ungainly monster we now call "Obamacare," something Max Baucus sharted out after a long night of tequila, burritos, and incompetence.

So no, Politico, Republicans weren't making "dubious" claims about Obamacare; they were making accurate ones. Something, by the way, that the media totally got scooped on; it was the bloggers Verum Serum (John Sexton) and Morgan Richmon who found, reported, and brought to Joe Lieberman's attention Hacker's "Trojan Horse" confession. The media reported it later... slightly.

Most deliberately did not report on the fact that the architect of the original plan was caught on tape bragging that Obamacare 1.0 was designed to wipe out private insurance.

At any rate, that's Politico's excuse: You guys made so many "dubious" (actually accurate) charges against Obamacare, we just couldn't ferret out the accurate ones from the false ones.

I say again: This wasn't a fast-moving story about a sudden natural disaster, in which information is scattered and comes in panicked burst. Nor was it a story about national secrets -- CIA stuff -- where the story couldn't come out until the Right Source delivered the Right Leak.

It was all written out, right there in the law, right there in the Federal Register. All a reporter had to do was read it -- and if it was too complicated or too arcane for a reporter, all he had to do was contact an expert.

Did the experts themselves know? Yes, says Megan McArdle -- including the left-wing ones.

[T]he most interesting line of defense is, essentially, that “we always knew this was coming.” The Official Blog Spouse chronicled the emergence of this meme last summer, and it hasn’t changed much since. It’s interesting because it’s both completely true and completely false -- depending on who you think “we” is.

It’s absolutely true that every policy wonk who was writing or speaking about the law in 2009 and 2010 understood that it would mean premiums going up for at least some people, many of whom would lose insurance that they would have preferred to keep. Who it would be depended a bit on how the law unfolded, of course, but at a minimum, young, healthy people who made more than $46,000 a year could expect to pay higher premiums for the same level of coverage. They had to; mathematically, it was not possible for coverage to expand and everyone’s premiums to go down -- not unless you spent more in premium subsidies than the government could afford.

But I think it’s also clearly true that the majority of the public did not understand this. In 2008, the Barack Obama campaign told them that their premiums would go down under the new health-care law. And the law’s supporters believed it.

...

[Most of Obama's arguments about how it could possibly be that premiums would go down] all sounded entirely plausible; I heard many smart wonks make most of these arguments in 2008 and 2009. However, it’s fair to say that by the time the law passed, the debate had pretty well established that few to none of them were true.

“We all knew” that preventive care doesn’t save money, electronic medical records don’t save money, reducing uncompensated care saves very little money, and “reining in the abusive practices” of insurance companies was likely to raise premiums, not lower them, because those “abuses” mostly consist of refusing to cover very sick people.

But that information did not get communicated very well to the public. The administration reiterated that, in Obama’s words, “We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.” They also promised that the average family would save $2,500 a year on premiums. There was no fine print about how some folks would lose their insurance, be forced into narrower doctor networks, and see premiums rise, even though they seem to have known what was going to happen.

And the wonk community did not exactly hasten to disabuse them.

So it seems to me there are several possibilities in play, none of them good for the media, nor the left-leaning "experts" that are on the media's speed-dials.

Either the wonks told the media, in all candor, that most of this was bullshit, and that people would indeed be suffering under Obama's plan, his promises to the contrary, and yet the media chose to not report that;

or their own trusted experts lied to them about what all of this meant.

Now, if it's the former, they're in on the conspiracy themselves. And if it's the latter, those experts should never, ever be called or quoted again, having deliberately lied to the reporters asking about Obamacare.

But I don't hear any in the media calling out any of their experts.

Going back to Mary Katharine's post: Mark Halperin also attempts to blame the media's negligence or intentional lying on Republicans.

INGRAHAM: That’s part of the issue, is it not? The President always seems to see things in terms of political solutions or political responses. So the response here is we have got to rebrand. We have got to sell it differently. We have to have a new ad, have to have the website have more colors, whatever it is. Isn’t it more of a branding problem? This is a technical problem. It’s a policy problem. It’s a substantive problem. It’s not just about whether Obama’s big legacy is intact or progressive ideas in the future are doing well. These are real concerns that were expressed frankly back in 2008, 2009, and into 2010. Forgive me, but I don’t think Time Magazine was doing cover stories on a lot of concerns that were raised back then that were routinely dismissed by many in the media, ideological, as just mean-spirited, turns out most of the Republican concerns about Obamacare were right.

HALPERIN: Laura, there is no doubt that the press failed to scrutinize this program at the time of passage and during the context of the president’s re-election. Any reporter who would argue otherwise would be putting their head in the sand. As we write in “Double Down,” the problem for the Republicans in the re-election context was you nominated, Republicans nominated Mitt Romney, a guy who was not very well positioned, to say the least, to make the case against Obamacare because he passed the healthcare plan in Massachusetts.

MKH immediately points out the inconvenient fact that there was no presidential election in 2009 to early 2010, when Obamacare was rammed through the Congress, and Mitt Romney was not the nominee of anything yet, except as the first name in Jen Rubin's Crush Book.

Mark Halperin continues maintaining, in the article, that it was only Mitt Romney's job to patrol Obama's claims for their veracity, or the 2000+ pages Obamacare (plus thousands of regulations in the Federal Register) for their actual impact on the American public, and that the media only had a responsibility, at most, as a secondary actor.

To which Mary Katherine finally bursts out in exasperation:

WHAT IS THE POINT OF YOU, MARK HALPERIN?

Indeed. If the media is now claiming that their only job is to put pictures of Obama on TV, well, Obama does quite a job of that himself. And any YouTube channel could satisfy that portion of news coverage.

If the media is not there to look into matters and closely question politicians, and get to the actual truth, what is the point of it?

Note that the media smugly tells you that it's their job to Tell You What the Truth Is when they're questioned about bias. There is a bias, they say, towards the truth, and to report Democrat Truth and Republican Lie as if they're equivalent would be "false equivalency."

But when asked why they permitted Democrat Lies to be trumpeted as truth for so long, or why they ignored Republican Truths about the cancellation of policies, they now say:

That's not our job. That was up to Mitt Romney.

Back when he was still just a former governor of Massachusetts and former contender for the Republican nomination. Who lost.

Incredible. Incredible.


Corrected: I got my Obamacare shills mixed up and attributed the Trojan Horse line to Gruber. It was actually Hacker.

Also corrected: I blew the timeline on Romney's governorship.



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posted by Ace at 02:53 PM

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