The Los Angeles Times is, of course, the nation’s worst newspaper, and Janet Hook’s piece yesterday on health care shows why. Hook got spun so completely that I’m sure she doesn’t even know which direction she faces when she sees the sun set.
Her article announces a “growing consensus” on a Plan B health care option if Obama’s “more ambitious approach collapses.” The heart of it is some insurance regulations mandating community rating and banning grotesque practices such as rescission. Fair enough.
But why is this approach better? First, insists Hook, because of the new deficit predictions and the “growing criticism” of Obama’s approach.
Where do you start? How about the deficit: somehow all these Republican critics didn’t seem to mind so much when Bush cut taxes to the tune of $1.9 trillion dollars without paying for them. They didn’t seem to mind Bush’s Medicare plan that was not paid for. And of course they didn’t mind the $1 trillion plus Iraq war. And none of this goes to the idea that unless one has a comprehensive approach to health care, that will ADD to the deficit because of exploding Medicare and Medicaid costs. Maybe that would have been useful for Hook to mention.
And where does this “growing criticism” come from? Well, Hook doesn’t bother to tell us, all of which goes to Robert Reich’s point yesterday that this is all about congressional staffers and opponents of the bill suckering naive reporters — like Hook. But she quotes only two senators. Charles Grassley, whom she inexplicably still claims is “open to compromise” despite his consistent refusal to, you know, COMPROMISE, and Joe Lieberman.
And these two egregious errors pale in comparison to Hook’s notion — which the mainstream media is desperately pimping — that somehow Ted Kennedy would have wanted to scrap anything major and just go an incremental approach. Hook cites Kennedy’s bill with Nancy Kassebaum in 1996 to increase health care portability, suggesting that somehow this is the best approach to take now.
Except that in 1996, Congress was controlled by the Republicans and in the midst of the Gingrich Dark Ages. Now, Democrats have 59 (soon-to-be-60) seats in the Senate, and a bigger majority in the House than Gingrich ever did — a somewhat relevant fact that Hook conveniently forgot to mention.
There’s been a lot of hand-wringing about the financial troubles of newspapers, but now it’s quite obvious how reporters are handling the situation: they are just moonlighting for the insurance industry and the RNC. Nice work if you can get it.