Monday, August 10, 2009

Editorial: Lots of people are really upset

Over the very busy weekend I didn't have time to take on this piece of disinformational crapola, and I wanted to be sure I could get into it in detail.

For once the headline is right, but that's about the end of it.

First off, the unnamed Courier editor pulls the 'enemies list' leg with the "White House website where people can report opponents of the plan." A good friend of mine and loyal Republican told me about this on Saturday, and I took a look at it. I'm certain I'm not the first to report that this is an antenna for picking up on disinformation about health care so that the White House can deal with it. They don't care who the source is.

He then warns darkly of the gubmint cutting off Grandma's medicine because she's too old. This and the 'enemies list' thing are both among the completely and demonstrably false ideas circulating in wingnut land designed to whip up uninformed, fearful people to vocally oppose the program. In this respect the editor happily joins the right-wing media in "organizing the opposition," which apparently means "lying to people to get them scared enough to do crazy things for your benefit."

The editor cites the recent Q poll asking whether voters approve of "the way Barack Obama is handling health care." I'm totally in favor of public health care, and expect I'll support whatever he can get passed, but I would have responded with 'disapprove' on this question too. "The way he's handling health care" is not the same as "public health care," yet the editor spins this poll result as disapproval of the whole effort.

The editor moves to WSJ poll results that show formerly undecideds lining up against "Barack Obama’s health care plan" -- which as far as I've seen does not actually exist. The editor fails to note that the next question on the poll was whether the respondent favors "a public health care plan administered by the federal government that would compete directly with private health insurance companies," and the results show the favorables slightly ahead. A little further down, we find this:

31. Now I am going to tell you more about the health care plan that President Obama supports and please tell me whether you would favor or oppose it.

The plan requires that health insurance companies cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. It also requires all but the smallest employers to provide health coverage for their employees, or pay a percentage of their payroll to help fund coverage for the uninsured. Families and individuals with lower- and middle incomes would receive tax credits to help them afford insurance coverage. Some of the funding for this plan would come from raising taxes on wealthier Americans.

Do you favor or oppose this plan?
Oppose ...............38
Depends (VOL).....3
Not sure ..............3

So when people are presented with the actual ideas involved, they overwhelmingly approve.

The editor writes that "respectful dialogue requires openness with the public about how the plan will work," implying that people at the town hall were mad because Rep Kirkpatrick wouldn't talk openly with them. The truth was quite the opposite -- the "organized opposition" was angry, raucous and determined to drown out what she had to say -- and they succeeded.

The Courier editor is actively participating in the nationwide campaign of disinformation designed to save the bacon of the pharmaceutical and insurance lobbies at the expense of every American, selectively twisting and spinning semi-facts into received wisdom, burying the truth under layers of deceit. This is the worst kind of evil in the newsroom, and he should be facing the same sort of criticism from Courier readers that he is sending against our elected representatives. From the look of the comments, he's getting it.


Birther T. Bagur said...

Nice site Steven. I have thought about doing a site like this but never got around to it.
The Courier had another column a few weeks ago where they misrepresented poll data to claim that Obama (and Dems) was now unpopular since he was polling at levels that he was at on election day (and white southerners went back to remembering he was black). What they didn't mention is the very same polls they cited to claim that people didn't like Democrats showed Republicans with record low approvals in the low 20's. The sort of monopolies that the Courier has and vigorously defends tend to breed such sloppy workmanship.

Mia Connolly said...

Thanks for this site! I was thinking the same thing when I read this article. I'm not too happy, but that's because I support Single Payer! I am backing this reform though - I see it as a compromise. I'm wondering if we should forget it though. Let the people who want to be "left alone" (I'm quoting someone I know) be left alone - no reform. Let them haggle with their insurance companies, or be denied coverage because of a preexisting, while we have our own kind of mini Single Payer. But I know, some of you want your private insurance with reform and a public option. I respect that and that's why I'm in support of it. Lesson: be careful when you take a polls! Anyone else here prefer HR676 also?

Steven Ayres said...

Welcome to both of you. Mia, letting them alone to face their poor choices is exactly what the administration has in mind. That's what they mean by letting people who are happy with their coverage keep it.

Having lived under one such system for years, I have no doubt that single-payer is the only arrangement that will work in the long run. But if incremental reform is all we can manage, let's do that. What bothers me is that we thought we were starting incremental reform back in the '60s with Medicare/Medicaid. What if we can only count on an increment every 50 years?

Mia said...

Scary thought. I didn't realize Medicare had been around that long. But with the current proposed bill won't private insurance co's have to have coverage "as good as" the public option? ie accept preexisting, etc. Or no?

Steven Ayres said...

Setting new standards for private insurance is certainly a goal of the current initiative, but bear in mind that whatever the intent of public policy, we can expect that the insurance companies will maintain their traditions of treachery and cost-dumping.

Where now they dump costs back on their customers, with reform they will find ways to dump costly practices and patients on the public system (all of us), and their market presence will limit the government's ability to reduce costs through price bargaining, etc.

The current effort may get us part way to a rational system, but I think we should harbor no illusions that it will address all our problems.

WaitWut? said...

Ugh. This whole health care thing is so overwhelming. I've been reading and reading and reading and I still don't understand it. All I understand is that I work full-time, can't afford insurance, have several pre-existing conditions and am surrounded by lunatics.

Steven, you've actually cleared up some of it for me, and I thank you. I can almost understand the frustration of some of the whackjobs at the town hall meetings when they feel "uninformed". But, um, they CHOOSE to be uninformed and I just lack the time (and brain cells) to become informed.

I think the highest hurdle is trying to differentiate between all of the available options. After that, it's how will it get paid for? I've heard the praises and complaints about Medicare, but still think the government will do a much better job than any of the insurance companies. I said "I think", so that's my out if it doesn't work.

The truly sickening thing in all of this is, I'm trying to convince my son to stay IN the Marine Corps because of the health care. If his new wife gets pregnant and he doesn't have that handy dandy Marine Corps insurance, they're screwed.

I have developed an unnatural fear of senior citizens because of all this. I find myself crossing the street to get out of their way, avoiding eye contact, etc.