Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dishonesty and Incoherence

If we had a functioning press corps that asked actual, substantive questions, this kind of incoherence and dishonesty would not be possible.
Ezra Klein: Sarah Palin's ghostwriter gets hold of John McCain's web site

The front page of John McCain's web site reads:

I remain committed to opposing any bill that puts your health care decisions in the hands of government bureaucrats while adding more than a trillion dollars to our country's deficit. Taxpayers simply cannot afford this government takeover of our health care system and this is our opportunity to put an end to it.

That's interesting, I guess, but what about the bill being considered by the Senate, which cuts $130 billion from our country's deficit and leaves health-care decisions exactly where they are now, wherever that might be?

Yglesias: Blanche Lincoln’s Website Still Says She Supports The Public Option

My colleague Igor Volsky points out that not only did Blanche Lincoln used to support a public option, as of last night at least that language was still up on her website:

blanchlincolnpublic 1

Her specific belief that a public option, if enacted, would eventually receive public funds even if it’s created by a law that prohibits taxpayer subsidies is a little bit hard to understand. Right now there aren’t sixty votes in the Senate for taxpayer subsidies to a public option. Nor is there a majority in the House for taxpayer subsidies to a public option. Nor does the White House support such subsidies. And we’re at something of a high water mark for Democratic victories—how likely is a simultaneous leftward shift by all three branches?

Yglesias: Blanche Lincoln, Racing Horse

Blanche Lincoln has emerged as one of the pivotal votes in the US Senate debate about health care reform. So an article about her and her role in the debate seems like a smart thing for a newspaper to run. Which makes Spencer Ackerman’s tweet quite apropos: “Hey let’s say that I didn’t pay any attn to HC yesterday. Shouldn’t this piece tell me why Lincoln opposes the bill?”

Exactly. It’s striking to me how little scrutiny the stated views of public option opponents tend to get. Moderates are very rarely asked to explain what it is about an opt-outable level playing field public option that’s so horrible that it becomes suddenly worthwhile to filibuster an otherwise good bill that will put the country on a more sustainable fiscal course will improving millions of Americans’ access to health care.

Here's how a real, thinking reporter puts the piece together:
Countdown had a good piece on the public option for floods, which is supported by almost all Senators:

"OLBERMANN: Some blue dog House Democrats led by Stephanie Herseth Sandlin also oppose a public option. And when the Senate Finance Committee voted against including the option in its version of health care reform, Republicans were joined by a handful of Democrats including the committee chair, Max Baucus, who crafted the bill after conferring for weeks with the so-called “gang of six”: fellow Democrats Jeff Bingaman and Kent Conrad, Republicans Chuck Grassley, Mike Enzi and Olympia Snowe. The entire gang of six votes—casts their votes against the public option on Tuesday.

"But each of them voted just last year in support of government-run insurance, that insurance however protects property. It is the National Flood Insurance Program created in 1968, because the free market decided it could not make money on that unpredictable risk called flooding. Government-run flood insurance is sold through private insurance companies but it is backed by the government and the government assumes all risk. Unlike the public option which relies on customer premiums, government flood insurance gets a subsidy—also known as a handout—from the government and it is mandatory for some people.

"So given all the shouting over a public option, who could vote for mandatory taxpayer subsidized, anti- free market socialized flood insurance run by government bureaucrats? Every single politician I just named and most of Congress. Charles Boustany of Louisiana, along with 44 other Republicans, including going bipartisan on September 27th, 2007 to vote yea on the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act. Karl Max applauded."

WaterTiger: Joe Lieberman: Still a fucking tool

now with an extra serving of tool-ness:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) raised hackles among liberals earlier this week when he claimed that the public option wasn't a part of the 2008 presidential campaign. He repeated that claim to reporters tonight, though acknowledged, when pressed, that then-candidate Barack Obama did in fact include a public option in his campaign health care proposal.

And then there's this:

Anyway, I'm opposed to it."

Shorter Lieberfucktard: I don't care what it says: I'm against it. Oooh, LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!!!!

That Joe Lieberman would rather kill health care reform than let some consumer choose between competing public and private plans isn't exactly new. I continue to find it fascinating, though, to see his evolving explanations.

In June, Lieberman said, "I don't favor a public option because I think there's plenty of competition in the private insurance market." That didn't make sense, and it was quickly dropped from his talking points.

In July, Lieberman said he opposes a public option because "the public is going to end up paying for it." No one could figure out exactly what that meant, and the senator moved onto other arguments.

In August, he said we'd have to wait "until the economy's out of recession," which is incoherent, since a public option, even if passed this year, still wouldn't kick in for quite a while.

In September, Lieberman said he opposes a public option because "the public doesn't support it." A wide variety of credible polling proved otherwise.

In October, Lieberman said the public option would mean "trouble ... for the national debt," by creating "a whole new government entitlement program." Soon after, Jon Chait explained that this "literally makes no sense whatsoever."

Well, it's November. And guess what? We're onto the sixth rationale in six months. I actually like the new one.

"This is a radical departure from the way we've responded to the market in America in the past," Lieberman said Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press." "We rely first on competition in our market economy. When the competition fails then what do we do? We regulate or we litigate.... We have never before said, in a given business, we don't trust the companies in it, so we're going to have the government go into that business.."

What a pleasant change of pace. Lieberman is moving away from practical and policy arguments -- that's a good move, since he's totally wrong on the merits -- and shifting towards opposition based on traditions.

That's at least creative. We haven't set up public plans to compete with dysfunctional private models before, therefore we shouldn't in the future. The first half of the equation may very well be true, but the second half is more of an observation than an argument.

In a nutshell, reform advocates are saying, "Giving people the choice of a public option is likely to help consumers by cutting costs and promoting competition." Lieberman is effectively responding, "We haven't done things that way in the past."

To which I respond, "So?"

The goal here is not to preserve ideologically-based traditions; the goal is to help consumers get the care they need at a price they can afford.

But don't worry, December is almost here. Lieberman will have a new line soon enough.

  • The comment section is predictably harsh with reality-based examples oh how utterly wrong he is. For example:

    Uh Joe, how about fire-fighting?

    Posted by: johannm on November 22, 2009 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

    This one's wrong too. We don't trust the marketplace to provide affordable health care coverage to seniors, so we have Medicare. The government has already gone into the business of providing health care coverage. What an idiot.

    Posted by: Chuck on November 22, 2009 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

    Utter horseshit. TVA brought electricity to rural Appalachia. Amtrak started providing passenger rail after companies couldn't provide it.

    But seriously, Lieberman isn't going to vote for health care reform. Either run the framework through without the public option then include the public option later through budget reconciliation, or run the whole thing through reconciliation.

    Posted by: Datanerd on November 22, 2009 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

    OK, so the government did not set up public schools and universities, did not start the USPS, never began building roads and bridges, never went into the pension business? Private businesses and individuals were doing ALL those things first and the government "went into" them.

    Posted by: rabbit on November 22, 2009 at 3:19 PM
Amato (C&L): Is Luke Russert the reincarnation of 'Clara Bow?'

Did you know that Luke Russert is the new political It Girl?" From now on, I'm calling him Clara Bow.

Digby explains.

Little Luke:That's what all signs are point to right now. But the interesting thing we can take away from this is a point that NBC producer Ken Strickland made that I think is great. It's that Harry Reid, no matter what happens, he is showing to the liberal base that he has done everything in his power to get a bill with a public option to the floor at least up for debate.

This satisfies the liberals, this satisfies the crowd, and really, I think it will show him to be the standard bearer of the liberal cause, Andrea.

Andrea Mitchell: Luke Russert, you're in the right place with the best story in town. Thanks so much.

Young Luke is quite the analyst. You can see why he was vaulted to the top of the American news business over the heads of others who have far more training, brains and ability. It's in the blood.

Just in case anyone missed it, Little Luke thinks that actually getting a public option in the bill isn't important to liberals -- the real victory is that the public option got to the floor. Apparently, Villagers think this whole thing was simply a bid for attention and now that the savvy Reid has delivered that, it doesn't matter what the bill has in it, we just love him to death. After all, liberals would certainly would never be so bold as to forget our place and think we might actually win something. How silly.

To the wise and worldly Little Luke, liberals are children to be appeased with gestures and shiny objects. I wonder where he learned that?

The Villagers are covering their asses because they declared the public option dead a long time ago, so now the story is that we're all happy little Cheeto-eaters because Harry Reid got it this far. What morons. And they wonder why blogs are cutting into their world. Maybe Luke is just looking for more college football tips.

Gawker has a little more.

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