Part Two: More Of Answering The Right's Deadly
Lies In The Health Care Debate
hyperlinked to sources. For all
sources, see the data
Your sources today include: the New
York Times, the Associated Press, mediamatters.org, the Washington Times,
commonwealthfund.org, commondreams.org, newsmax.com, msnbc.com,
thinkprogress.org, and billoreilly.com.
This show is somewhat of a
continuation of podcast 152.
There, you heard the facts about such false right wing claims as:
--the U.S. has the best health care
system in the world
Now we'll add to that by debunking
several additional right-wing talking points.
You'll also hear an astounding display of mathematical illiteracy by one
your favorite cable talk show hosts.
Even though today's show stands on
its own, I suggest you listen to podcast 152 as well, if you haven't already
done so. The more verbal ammo you
have, the better.
First up here, the role of
Progressives want a public option in
any health care reform, to give every American the right to buy into a
Medicare-type plan. Progressives
also want private insurance -- to the extent we can't have national single payer
instead of all this -- heavily regulated.
Right-wingers oppose a government
role in health care, like they oppose a government role in most everything else.
insert audio: Reagan
I've always felt the nine most terrifying words in
the English language are, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to
What might be useful, when you're
confronting the "keep the government out of health care" argument, is
to point out, that the government is already in health care, big time.
The federal government accounts for
over one-third of all health care spending in the United States.
So the question isn't government or
no government, it's how much more government, if any, is appropriate.
In case you're told, the public is
angry and opposes a public option, just reply, wrong.
polls showed majorities ranging from 52% to 66% support a public option.
In only one poll was support below 50%, and then it was still a
plurality. True, the support levels
have been dropping under relentless right-wing attack.
But the American people are still behind a public option.
If you ask, why is there such support
for a public option, that leads us into the second point today.
You'll undoubtedly be hit with the
right-wing claim about how unhappy the public is with health care the government
is involved in, and maybe be told a supporting anecdote or two.
The right is wrong again.
The Commonwealth Fund did a poll
comparing the experiences -- not the ideological talking points, but the actual
experiences -- of elderly Medicare beneficiaries vs non-elderly adults covered
by employer-based private insurance.
And guess what?
Medicare wins out.
The key findings are, and I quote
from the report's summary:
Medicare beneficiaries are
more satisfied with their insurance coverage.
report easier access to physicians.
Medicare beneficiaries are
less likely to report not getting needed services.
Medicare beneficiaries are
sicker and poorer but report fewer medical bill problems.
So, if people are happy with
Medicare, a government program, that would hurt Republican efforts to denigrate
Obama's health care reform, correct? You
might think so, but then, the right is, if nothing else, an often wily
strategist. And what they're doing,
is using the popularity of Medicare against
The right's political
ju-jitsu sounds like this:
audio: Frank Luntz
Sean, do you realize that they’re going to divert
funding that was intended for Medicare to help pay for this health care
I think if seniors saw this—and I’ve done a lot
of work for seniors; I respect their contribution to American society.
But I think it’s wrong for money that was allocated to them to be
diverted to this health care takeover.
That was Republican wordmeister guru
His tone is kind of measured.
But what chutzpah.
His side opposed Medicare when it was enacted in 1965, and now is
purporting to be its defender against the same Democratic progressive wing which
pushed for and enacted it!
Getting more hyperbolic is the
never-ceases-to-amaze-you, Dick Morris. He wrote
"This healthcare reform proposal really is the repeal of Medicare."
Morris goes on about how we don't have enough doctors to cover everyone,
so the elderly will be denied care, blah blah blah.
I addressed the bogus doctor shortage issue in podcast 152.
Beyond even Morris in outrageousness
-- that is a word -- is the de facto head of the Republican Party, Rush
People out of a certain age, with certain diseases,
will be deemed not worth the investment and they will just -- as Obama said,
they'd give them some pain pills and let them loop out till they die, and they
don't even know it's happened. It will be rationed…
Again, what a joke.
The right has been opposing
efforts to provide health care for all Americans ever since FDR first considered
it and Truman formally proposed national health insurance in 1945.
As part of that, the right of course opposed Medicare as well.
Now they expect Americans to believe
that they, the right, are the true defenders of Medicare, against the evil
Democrats, who are the ones who want to destroy that program.
How bass-ackwards is that!
Medicare is an offspring of the New
Far from Limbaugh and the right
wanting to protect senior citizens with Medicare, listen to what Limbaugh and
the right really would like to do to such New Deal-type programs:
audio: Rush Limbaugh
Roosevelt is dead.
His policies may live on, but we're in the process of doing something
about that as well.
If I may, let me draw an analogy.
The right complaining that the Democrats are going to destroy a health
care program for the elderly, reminds me of when right-wingers complain that
Hugo Chavez isn't doing enough to help the poor in Venezuela, or that he's
hurting the poor there. Right-wingers
didn't say a word when Venezuela's poor were dying like flies from hunger and
disease while a rich elite stole that nation's oil wealth.
But once Chavez starting redirecting most of the oil wealth to helping
the poor and working class, then the right there claimed to be the defenders of
Just like the right here now claims
to be looking out for the interests of the elderly on Medicare.
The right didn't care when, pre-Medicare, so many of our senior citizens
lacked any health care at all. No,
but now, the right says it's sticking up for our senior citizens.
How stupid does someone have to be to swallow that?
Ok, up next, some more right-wing
follies, of the deadly kind, from Laura Ingraham and Sarah Palin.
Continuing on with the litany of
right-wing lies, not only do they claim, as you just heard, that the Democrats
will destroy Medicare and deny seniors needed health services, but that
Democratic plans will actually encourage
euthanasia, and force people to draw up plans for how they want to die.
Here are a few choice recent
in order of increasing absurdity.
House Republican leader John Boehner
of Ohio: The House bill "may
start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia."
Former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy
One troubling provision of
the House bill compels seniors to submit to a counseling session every five
years ... about alternatives for end-of-life care.
A right-wing viral
On Page 425 of Obama’s
health care bill, the Federal Government will require EVERYONE who is on Social
Security to undergo a counseling session every 5 years with the objective being
that they will explain to them just how to end their own life earlier.
Yes…They are going to push SUICIDE to cut medicare spending!!!
Finally, Laura Ingraham, like all
right-wingers looking out for the elderly, offers those advanced in age some
Is Mother Robinson still kickin' because after that
hospice, those hospice comments, and now we've learned more about how they're
going to push you all into hospices, I'm telling
you, if you're over the age of 65 and you have so much as a backache, I would
keep it to yourself. All right? Keep the backache to yourself. If you've slept
wrong on your neck, and, "Oh! I have a crick in my neck!" OK? Forget
about it. Because you are about three steps away from the hospice chute. They're
going to push you down that chute. If they can save a buck and then channel the
money toward -- what? -- bailing out Planned Parenthood, they'll do that.
If you hear any of this ugly
nonsense, here are the facts:
law already, Medicare covers hospice care, and legislation passed in 1990
requires that "patients be asked if they have a living will."
And the proposed new legislation doesn't
force anything in this realm on anyone.
A patient would be able to choose,
have the option to consult with doctors to determine which life-sustaining
treatments they would want, and to learn about so-called "end-of-life
services," such as hospice care.
As the Associated Press put
it, this is what would be paid for:
Advance directives lay out
a patient's wishes for life-extending measures under various scenarios involving
terminal illness, severe brain damage and [similar] situations. Patients and
their families would consult with health professionals, not government agents,
if they used the proposed benefit.
Even the AARP has called
the right-wing allegations "flat-out lies."
How reprehensible and heartless is
this right-wing line of attack. Have
you ever had a loved one facing an end-of-life situation?
This is the type of consultation you want to be able to have, to receive
from professionals a clear understanding of what options are available.
And you know what?
Reprehensible doesn't even begin to describe how Sarah Palin has twisted
things even further.
The America I know and
love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to
stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide,
based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society’
whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”
Fox News, of course, is spreading
the "death panel" falsehood.
Palin isn't a fringe right-wing
blogger. John McCain saw fit to put
her within a heartbeat of the presidency.
And thankfully, maybe the American
public is really wising up to the fact that Palin is, essentially, either
delusional, or a pathological liar who will say anything.
A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll
that 67% of Americans don't want Sarah Palin ever to be President, compared to
only 21% who do.
It's that 21% we still have to worry
More on them later.
Ok, with that under our belts, how
about we zip through two talking point quickies before another musical
The right claims that the public
option will have unfair advantages and wipe out private insurance, leading to a
federal government takeover of the entire health care sector.
The right will cite you some other
studies that disagree.
All these various studies have
different assumptions about how much lower the government public option premiums
will be, and how many people will sign up for it.
I don't think anyone really knows for
We progressives frankly hope that the
public option does take over, so that the private insurance industry does wither
away. It wastes as much as 31
cents of every dollar on administrative costs, not to mention diverting
additional monies from providing health care, to instead pay dividends to
stockholders and huge salaries to executives.
But if speaking with a right-winger,
you should point out the right has cited
the CBO as the gold-standard on other health care issues, so they can hardly
denigrate its conclusion here.
Last quick point for this segment,
goes back to right-wing misrepresentation of public opinion.
For a major domo treatment of this on issues across the board, you should
check out my three-part series, Reason to Cheer, podcasts
for proof that the public is progressive, and increasingly so, on most social
In the matter at hand, the right will
claim, oh, the public never will support health care reform if it means raising
taxes on the wealthy.
Wrong again, right-wingers.
Recent polls found substantial
majorities of between 58 to 68% of Americans supporting increasing taxes on
the wealthy in order to finance health care reform.
You can point out how wrong anyone
asserting anything to the contrary, is.
In a moment, some more debunking of
the right, including a clip of someone who must have skipped a grade school
Here's one to make you shake your
head in disbelief:
Here are the letters.
Peter Gilles, Victoria, Canada: "Has
anyone noted that life expectancy in Canada under our health system is higher
than the USA?"
Well, that's to be expected, Peter, because we have
ten times as many people as you do. That
translates to ten times as many accidents, crimes, down the line.
Love this online comment:
Holy crap. I understood
the concept of proportion better than that when I was ten years old.
a Master's Degree in Public Administration from
Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
I imagine he wasn't allowed to take a
stats course there. Didn't have the
prerequisite of 4th grade math.
Enough of failed-in-fractions
It's always good to be able to show
right-wingers how often they project, cause they very problems they accuse
others of being responsible for.
Ralph Nader recently did just that.
He first points out
that the American Medical Association opposed President Harry Truman's universal
health insurance bill by claiming that a government run plan
would lead to rationing of health care, higher prices, diminished choices
and more bureaucracy. The AMA beat both Truman and the unions that were backing
the legislation, using the phrase "socialized medicine" to scare the
Nader goes on to deftly insert the knife:
Fifty-nine years later, "corporatized medicine" has produced all
these consequences, along with stripping away the medical profession's
independence. Today, the irony is that the corporate supremacists are accusing
reformers in Washington of what they themselves have produced throughout the
country. Rationing, higher prices, less choice, and mounds of paperwork and
corporate red tape. Plus, fifty million people without any health insurance at
can throw that one at your right-wing water cooler war opponent.
Next: All right-wingers are not
Republicans. We have some
right-wing, or at least right-wing leaning Democrats in Congress as well.
This talking point is addressed at combating their influence.
Six Senate Finance Committee members,
3 Democrats and 3 Republicans, together with seven House Democrats, part of the
Blue Dogs, are wielding far disproportionate influence in the health care
debate. They threaten to torpedo
such progressive essentials as a robust public option.
Commentator David Sirota did
some math. These obstructionist
elected officials are mostly from small states and sparsely populated areas.
Together, they represent only 4% of the population.
Yet they pose a risk to meaningful reform to the other 96% of us.
Another great point Sirota makes:
Census figures show that the poverty rates are far higher and per capita
incomes far lower in the 13 legislators’ specific districts than in the nation
as a whole. Put another way, these politicians represent exactly the kinds of
districts whose constituents would most benefit from universal health care. So
why are they leading the fight to stop—rather than pass—reform?
Sirota's question is rhetorical.
He knows the answer. Because
they're right-wingers, and don't represent the average person, but the
super-wealthy and their corporate patrons.
Moving beyond the unfortunately
outsize influence of these particular lawmakers, what about Obama himself?
Could he be thrown into that conservative Democrat barrel on this issue?
Check this out.
During the presidential campaign, Obama made a big deal about how
Republicans forbid Medicare from negotiating drug prices with the pharmaceutical
companies, and that Obama would undo
that. And that drugs should be
importable from Canada, where they cost far less.
Then last week, an LA Times story
reported Obama had made a deal with big pharma, and would not change the
no-price-negotiations Medicare rule. He'd
be happy with the $80 billion in savings over ten years promised by the drug
companies. Never mind that such a
promise is meaningless, and only a fraction
of what could be saved through Medicare drug negotiations.
Keep your eye on this one.
Frank Rich's most recent New York
is entitled "Is Obama Punking Us?"
Obama better pay attention to his
On that cheery note, let's conclude
with some speculation.
What's going to happen?
Well, there's always the chance that
the Blue Dogs will start marching to a higher calling, as this letter
writer to the New York Times requests:
I would like to ask these
freshman Democrats whether they would rather serve two years and get historic,
once-in-a-lifetime health care reform that will benefit tens of millions of
Americans passed or if they would like to serve 30 years and still be dealing
with this issue in their 15th term when the country will be bankrupt paying for
health care for fewer and fewer people.
I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Yet, even hard-core health insurance execs have had moments of epiphany.
You may have heard of Wendell Potter, whistle-blower
extraordinaire. He was head
flack for a major private insurer, when he came across a medical
aid charity group conducting one of its health clinics not in some Third
World country, but in the town of Wise, Va.
Thousands of Americans were lined up for free checkups, surgeries and
dental care. In animal stalls.
The site shook him and he quit his job and started blabbing.
That clinic actually is actually
visiting locations all
over the country. Maybe send a Blue Dog delegation to see it.
Some analysts point to divisions
within the insurance industry. Maybe
they do exist to some extent, but overall, as always, it's going to be the
united, moneyed interests vs. everyone else.
Along those lines, the media watchdog group FAIR just laid
out the interlocking boards of directors of media, insurance and
To make things even more difficult,
there is amazing ignorance abounding.
You may have heard about the man at a
town hall meeting who proclaimed
"Keep your government hands off my Medicare."
At another town hall meeting of a
Texas Democrat, almost all anti-Obama attendees agreed with a fellow activist
that they "oppose any form of socialized or government-run health
care." Then Representative Gene
Green asked how many were on Medicare. Almost
half raised their hands.
It's because the right knows that the
truth will kill them and deplete their ranks, that they're forced to make up
lies like the ones you heard about repealing Medicare and encouraging euthanasia
and creating death panels for Down Syndrome infants.
– Artificially Inflate
Your Numbers: Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The
objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up.
The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant
portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.
– Be Disruptive Early
And Often: You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch
for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.
– Try To “Rattle
Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: The goal is to rattle him, get him off
his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and
shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even
Not have an intelligent debate.
Doesn't that say it all?
I must say, an upbeat
assessment does come from Jamison Foser, whose columns I regularly read at
Speaking about angry town
hall attendees: Ignore them… A dozen people shouting at a town hall meeting --
even a dozen people shouting at each of a hundred town hall meetings -- just
doesn't tell us anything meaningful about public opinion. It tells us that there
are at least few thousand angry people, and that they're organized. We already
Look: Sarah Palin drew big
crowds last year -- and a lot of those people were angry. They yelled, they held
up nasty signs, and they convinced a lot of the media there was some huge
groundswell of opposition to Barack Obama. Then he went out and won North
Carolina and Indiana.
Ok, fair enough.
I think Christie Harvey, Director of
Strategic Communications at americanprogress.org, nailed it on the Thom Hartmann
She also brought up those hateful
crowds at Palin campaign speeches, and went on to say that the right is, and I
quote approximately here, "once again surfing on an underswell of hatred,
tapping into something very deep, something very ugly, something that isn't
You and I, we progressives, aren't
going away either. I'm in the fight
for the long haul. I
hope you are, as well.