Health Care: The LA Times Gets Spun AGAIN

Did Janet Hook and the Los Angeles Times just get completely spun, or are they on retainer from the RNC and the insurance industry? We ask, you decide.

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.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.