Apparently, he and David Herszenhorn moonlight for the Republican National Committee, and got some of their copy mixed up. Either that, or someone from the RNC spun them so hard they don’t know which way is up.
My God, where do you start? Well, how about: “it is not clear that Republicans and the White House are willing to negotiate seriously with each other.” Except, of course, that both the House and Senate plans are based on Republicans ideas, and the Senate process ground to a halt for months over the Gang of Six process.
Or this: “Congressional Republicans have laid out principles and alternatives that provide a road map to what a Republican health care bill would look like if they had the power to decide the outcome.” Except that, you know, the Republicans had the power to decide the outcome for several years and did nothing because essentially the system is fine by them.
Or: “The Republicans rely more on the market and less on government.” Unless, of course, you count things like tax sheltered health savings accounts, subsidies to Pharma under Medicare (dis)Advantage, federal pre-emption of state insurance regulations.
Or: “it is clear that they would not provide coverage to anything like the number of people — more than 30 million — who would gain insurance under the Democrats’ proposals. But Republicans say they can make incremental progress without the economic costs they contend the Democratic plans pose to the nation.” Yes, but are they right when they say that? Does such an assertion even pass the laugh test? Given that both the House and Senate bills are fully paid for — a fact nowhere mentioned in the piece and not a facet of, say, any GOP policy initiative during the Bush years — maybe some analysis and fact-checking of GOP claims is warranted?
Or: “Republicans would provide federal money to states to establish and expand high-risk pools, for people with chronic illnesses who cannot find private insurance at an affordable price.” Yes — and many states already have them, and they have done exactly nothing to increase affordability or access?
Or: “Republicans also contend that changes in state medical malpractice laws could lower costs and slow the growth of premiums. However, some of these proposals — like federal limits on damages for pain and suffering and punitive damages — are potentially in conflict with the Republicans’ emphasis on federalism and state autonomy.” Also however — these proposals do virtually nothing to actually reduce costs, as has been shown by study after study for years and years. (Which isn’t to say tort reform isn’t a good idea on it’s own basis).
Or: “Many Republicans want to expand the role of private insurance companies in Medicare. Insurers already manage Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, and Republicans see that as a model.” Yes — it’s a model of how to reward Big Pharma and getting nothing in return. Can’t Pear and Herszenhorn be bothered to cite to the studies showing how inefficient it is?
This isn’t journalism: it’s stenography. Pear has been on this beat at least since 1993, and apparently hasn’t learned anything since then: little wonder that his work served as Exhibit One in James Fallows’ diagnosis of what is wrong with contemporary reporting.
The piece concludes: “Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the senior Republican on the Budget Committee, welcomed Mr. Obama’s invitation. But like many in his party, he expressed concern that the session would be used as ‘an arena for political theater.’” Maybe that’s because theater seems to be the only thing that putative journalists like Pear and Herszenhorn understand.