…bad faith, distortions, and lies on the part of the bill’s proponents—plus their counter-accusations that it’s actually only the opponents of the bill who are guilty of bad faith, distortions, and lies.
Many of you have probably already seen the video of the “wink, wink, ‘this is the first step towards single-payer but don’t let the public know'” statements of so many pushing this bill. But if not, here it is:
And, speaking of “don’t let the public know,” whatever happened to transparency and the posting of prospective bills online in a timely fashion? Although some on the Right are trying to force the issue on the health care reform bill, the Democrats in Congress who head the Committee in charge know they can stonewall by keeping the American people in the dark about the details through most of the August recess, the better to head off any substantive objections and the better to spread reassuring misinformation about how wonderful it will all be:
Unfortunately, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is dragging its feet on posting the final bill. When we called them yesterday morning to get a copy, we were told that the amended version might not be compiled until after the August recess. When we called back for an official comment, spokeswoman Lindsey Vidal gave us the slightly less jarring news that it would take at least two to three weeks, even though we live in an age of computer cut-and-paste.
The press has its own obfuscating role, as well. First, there’s the need to keep quiet about all of the above. Then, there’s the need to paint the vast majority of those who object to the bill as mere tools of the big bad evil health insurance industry rather than reasonable and concerned citizens.
Next, it’s very important to set up strawmen and then to knock them down. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek has written an excellent example of this genre, painting opponents of Obamacare who are satisfied with their own health insurance as uncaring dolts who feel that the entire health insurance system is perfect just the way it is.
This is duplicitous sophistry on Alter’s part but hey, what else is new? If the American public is too deficient in critical thinking to understand the strawman technique and to reject it; well then, that’s just too bad for our country, I’m afraid.
Alter writes his piece in the sarcastic pretend voice of Obamacare’s opponents, who are portrayed thusly:
I like the status quo on health care in the United States. I’ve got health insurance and I don’t give a damn about the 47 million suckers who don’t. Obama and Congress must be stopped. No bill! I’m better off the way things are…I like the fact that if I lose my job, I won’t be able to get any insurance because of my illness…I like the absence of catastrophic insurance today…speaking of fair, it seems fair to me that cost-cutting bureaucrats at the insurance companies—not doctors—decide what’s reimbursable. After all, the insurance companies know best…
And how could the supporters of these reform bills believe in anything as stupid as a “public option”? Do they really believe that the health-insurance cartel deserves a little competition to keep them honest? Back in the day, they had a word for competition. A bad word. They called it capitalism…
And on and on and on. You really have to read the whole thing to get the full flavor of it.
Alter ignores the myriad statements on the part of Obamacare opponents criticizing many aspects of the current system, as well as all of their suggestions for improving it except tort reform (see this, for example, for a GOP plan which eliminates the pre-existing condition problem as well as freeing health insurance from its ties to employment, among other things; also note that allowing catastrophic insurance is something that Republicans support and Obamacare eliminates and/or discourages ).
The fact that the Republicans do have ideas for changing health care coverage, and that they are merely different from the ones in the current bill—and might indeed be better—is something Alter needs to hide, because fair debate on the parties’ competing ideas for reform is not on the agenda of most Obamacare proponents. He also needs to hide what actually is in the current bill, because most Americans would be quite alarmed were they to find out.
Alter is also following the party line in his representation of a public option as traditional capitalistic competition. In doing so, he’s relying once again on the ignorance of the American public (I am paying him the compliment of assuming that Alter himself is not so ignorant as to actually believe what he writes). As he must know, the government has an advantage in the game: it is subsidized by our tax dollars, and can therefore compel the public to fund a government plan that can then undercut whatever competition the health care industry can muster and drive it out of the market.
But perhaps my favorite line in the Alter piece is his sarcastic “speaking of fair, it seems fair to me that cost-cutting bureaucrats at the insurance companies—not doctors—decide what’s reimbursable. After all, the insurance companies know best.” Just replace the phrase “insurance companies” with “the federal government” and you’ve got the program he’s pushing, to wit:
[S]peaking of fair, it seems fair to me that cost-cutting bureaucrats in the federal government—not doctors—decide what’s reimbursable. After all, the federal government know[s] best…
If that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, nothing will.