SEEING THE GLASS FIVE-SIXTHS FULL! The Senate health bill is a turkey. In the Times, Robert Pear doesnt tell: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2009
A long-despised minority: Throughout history, we labyrinthitis sufferers have been ridiculed, reviled and despised. Why did the ancients make lepers live in the underground caves we see so plainly in Ben Hur? Simple! So pedestrians couldnt see the deeper caves into which we had been hurled!
Ten years ago today: How do you get into the White House with no invitation? Wed have to say its the same old answer:
Practice, practice, practice! Go ahead: Just click here.
(Joking aside, we dont know what happened at the White House, or at the earlier CBC event. Well wait for a formal report.)
Related question: How do you create a society whose opinion leaders want to talk about a golfers love life? Same damn answer! To wit:
On yesterdays Morning Joe, we were pleased to see The New Yorkers David Remnick refer back, disapprovingly, to similar crap from the Clinton years. In those days, opinion leaders talked about Bill Clintons love life (and then, about Naomi Wolfs non-existent resemblance to Miss Lewinsky) as al Qaeda planned its attacksas Glass-Steagall was getting repealed.
And so, a bit of history! Ten years ago this very day, the Washington Post (Ceci Connolly) and the New York Times (Kit Seelye) accidentally misquoted Candidate Gore about his high-profile hearings in the House concerning toxic waste sites in Toone, Tennessee and Love Canal. Having trashed Wolf for a good solid month, the fools were happy to move ahead to this new bungled topic.
The misquotation was definitively corrected on TV, through videotape, on that very first day. But so what? The Post and the Times both refused to correct, finally relenting six and nine days later. (In each newspaper, the grudging correction contained a new mistake about what Gore had said! In those days, the fools were prolific.) And who gave a sh*t about corrections anyway? The fools kept repeating the misquotation for more than two months, as they crafted a mocking, bogus paraphrase of what Gore had supposedly said. (More accurately: As they adopted this paraphrase from their RNC faxes.)
George Bush ended up in the White House. Career liberals and your liberal journals just sat there and took it.
Being very Serious People, they knew that they mustnt complain.
Yesterday, Remnick said we have to stop clowning. We give him full credit for that correct statement. But to see Remnick play along with Chris Matthews ten years ago, you know what to do: See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/19/06.
Yesterday, we sat slack-jawed as Morning Joes pundit panel complained that the Salahis will do anything to get on TV. Such people will say outrageous things, Mad Moneys Jim Cramer averred.
Look whos talking, the analysts cried. No one has agreed to say more outrageous things than that panel of pundits has. We would have sadly shaken our headexcept we had labyrinthitis, and the room would have swum all around.
Truly, we live in a lunatic culture. Have you been able to train your eye such that you can see it?
SEEING THE GLASS FIVE-SIXTHS FULL: How broken is journalistic culture at the tippity-top? Consider Robert Pears news report in todays New York Timesthe newspapers top front-page story.
For what its worth, Pears report also seems to show the broken state of our liberal politics.
Pear reports on the CBOs new projections concerning the Senate health bill. His report runs beneath a set of misleading headlines; we show those headlines below, along with Pears ambiguous opening paragraph. For now, well highlight one lonely word in that opening graf:
The headline writer, like Pear himself, stresses Democratic uplift concerning the new report. (Republican complaints get downplayed, although theyre brutally accurate.) But should anyone be happy with this CBO study, except perhaps for insurance companies? Look what happens a few grafs later, when Pear describes the CBO findings in a bit more detail:
Given the history of this billthe promises made on its behalfwe think those paragraphs are astounding. Pear doesnt seem to have noticed, as we see in that highlighted word.
What do those two paragraphs say? As best we can tell, they say this:
In the first paragraph, Pear says that premiums will tend to go up for people who buy insurance on their own. (Will the price of premiums tend to go up compared to the current price of premiums? Or compared to the projected price of premiums if there is no bill? At this point, Pear doesnt say. Much later, he clarifies: According to the CBO study, the average premium per person in the individual insurance market would be 10 percent to 13 percent higher than under current law. That is, these prices will rise more than they would rise without any health reform bill!)
In the second paragraph, Pear discusses the effects of the bill on premium prices paid by employers. There will be little change in these premiums relative to the amounts projected under current law, he reports. Translation: The cost of these premiums will continue to rise, pretty much just as they will rise if theres no bill at all.
Given the way health reform has been sold, this is an astonishing failurean affirmation of the power of our corporate-run democracy. Pear shows no sign of noticing.
Why would these results represent a vast failure? Because health reform has always been sold as a way of reducing health costs, including the price of premiums. As a candidate, Barack Obama frequently said that he was going to pass a plan that brings the typical family's premiums down by $2500. (Was that compared to the current price of premiums? Or compared to the projected price of future premiums? As far as we know, Obama didnt sayand people like Pear didnt ask.)
Meanwhile, in the year since Obamas election, discussion of health reform has always focused on the claim that health reform would bend the cost curvewould at least slow the rate at which health care costs are growing. This has always been a fuzzy claim. But the evocative claim is hard to reconcile with the outcome Pear describes, in which:
Where are premiums coming down? Where does health reform bend the curve? When it comes to the cost of premiums, Pear seems to say this: Nowhere! The costs of premiums will continue to rise as if there were no billat an even faster rate for those who buy their own insurance! Yet Pear shows no sign of understanding the fact that this represents the failure of health reformthat the following system will continue:
According to Pear, how would health reform affect this cycle? Not by reducing the cost of insurance, whether compared to current or to projected prices. This bill would only affect this cycle in the following way: Pols will funnel tax money to many people, thus lowering what they themselves have to pay for those premiums. The bloated cash flow to insurers continues. So do re-election rates for American pols.
A final point must of course be made about this spreading madness. Those rising costs occur against a baseline which is the laughing-stock of the world. At present, we spend two to three times what comparable nations spend on health care, on a per-person basis. In the past year, the mainstream press corps has made absolutely no attempt to explain why that situation exists. But then, neither have our hapless liberal journalsboot-licking, Potemkin news organizations which pretend to advance progressive frameworks.
Rates of coverage would increase under this bill, and that would be a good thing. But whatever happened to bending the curveto reducing the costs of premiums? (To bringing the typical family's premiums down by $2500?) This goals are AWOL in this new studybut Pear doesnt t seem to notice. Well therefore rewrite his opening paragraph, making a change in that one lonely word:
In our view, thats an obvious but, not an and. At the tippity-top of the mainstream press, Pear doesnt seem to have noticed.
In the liberal world, Potemkin news orgs will urge you to cheer these findings. So it goes in a world in which there is no progressive politics.
Liberal journals accepted the wars against Clinton and Gore. Today, theyll urge you to cheer for this turkey. Your nation is the joke of the world. This morning, the laughter continues.
Lessons in how to bury the lede: Pear consigns his lede to paragraph 12. According to the CBO, the Senate bill will have the following non-effect on the price of premiums:
Our baseline is the joke of the world. But so what? Whether the bill is passed or not, premiums will be substantially higher than they are today. Thats an inexpert way of presenting the outcome, but it helps convey the crashing failure of this reform bill.
Insurers stay richand so do incumbents. Why wasnt that the nugget of Pears report? Readers! Must we tell?