Never one to miss an opportunity to attack President Obama, the first lady, or health care reform on his radio show (not necessarily in that order), Rush Limbaugh managed to hit all three in the span of a few seconds today while mocking Obama's health care summit. Limbaugh, referring to Obama's anecdote about having to rush his daughters to the emergency room, stated:
LIMBAUGH: Any person in America, from the richest guy in the country to the cheapest, poorest illegal immigrant can do exactly the same thing Obama just described and that's go to the emergency room. And Tom Coburn made that point. Everybody gets treated in this country. That's not what we're here talking about. We're talking about fraud, waste -- we just need to get it out of there.
Now, why, since Obama just described this wonderful system where his two daughters -- two fat daughters, according to his wife -- his two fat daughters came down with some sort of a disease and had to rush them to the emergency room, why design a system that destroys the very best private health care that he says he's so thankful for?
Limbaugh cited no evidence that Michelle Obama -- who has made it a personal goal to raise awareness of, and combat, childhood obesity -- has ever once referred to her daughters as "fat." Obama did mention her children during an appearance on Fox News' Huckabee, where she talked about her impetus for starting the Let's Move campaign:
MICHELLE OBAMA: I come to this issue more so as a mom than a first lady and I shared my story before because this is really how I became aware of the issue just in my own kids. You know, life has changed for families a way that I can see: We're busier; we're less active; you know, our kids watch more TV; sometimes it's hard to get outside; drive-thru fast food is easier and cheaper; and as a result, you know, we're seeing the effects on our kids and I saw it on mine. And it was because of my pediatrician that just sort of waved a red flag, you know.
MIKE HUCKABEE: What did he say?
MICHELLE OBAMA: He said, you know, he monitored our kids' body mass index. He didn't just do it for our kids, but he did this throughout his practice because he was seeing obesity rates increase. It was in an urban African-American setting and he saw those trends, so he did it for all of his patients. And he just said, you know, it -- you know, this -- the trajectory isn't what it should be so you may want to think about doing something. And I didn't know what to do. So we just started making some really small changes in our diet: more water, less fruit juices, more vegetables, I cooked a little bit more -- you know, even though we still had to go out because we were busy -- made sure my kids weren't sitting in front of the TV -- no TV during the week. Little things like that.
HUCKABEE: No TV for your kids during the week?
MICHELLE OBAMA: During the week -- you know, just on the weekend, and now they have homework, so you know they're really busy. So with those minor changes, I saw the impact on my kids almost immediately. So when I got to this position, I thought, you know, families don't even know how modern day life has really changed the way our kids move and eat, and if I didn't know, you know, what about communities where people aren't even talking about this issue? So, I thought that this platform would give me an opportunity to shine a light, to give more information to parents, to talk about health of food in schools, to talk about access and affordability issues, so it is really personal for me.
She made similar comments during an event in late January where she talked about the concerns of her children's pediatrician, who she said "warned that he was concerned that something was getting off-balance" and "cautioned me that I had to take a look at my own children's BMI." The AP further reported:
Obama said parents often recognize that kids in general don't eat right and aren't exercising enough, but "we always think that only happens to someone else's kids, and I was in that position."
"Even though I wasn't exactly sure at that time what I was supposed to do with this information about my children's BMI, I knew that I had to do something," she said. "I had to lead our family to a different way."
The first lady said that over the next few months she made some small changes that got her daughters back on track. No more weekday TV. More attention to portion sizes. Low-fat milk. Water bottles in the lunch boxes. Grapes on the breakfast table. Apple slices at lunch. Colorful vegetables on the dinner table.
"It was really very minor stuff, but these small changes resulted in some really significant improvements, and I didn't know it would," Obama said. "It was so significant that the next time we visited our pediatrician, he was amazed. He looked over the girls' charts and he said, 'What on earth are you doing?' "
Did I miss the part where she called her daughters "fat"?
As participants in today's health care summit took a lunch break, Fox News' Bret Baier brought on Jim Angle to perform what Baier described as a "fact check." But Angle's analysis came up short on a central fact that completely undermines his conclusion that health care reform will raise premiums -- namely, that the very bill Angle analyzed includes subsidies to offset premium costs.
Angle purported to fact check a back-and-forth at the summit between President Obama and Sen. Lamar Alexander about whether the Senate health care bill would increase premiums for people who buy health insurance on the individual market, rather than through their employer. Angle's bottom line: "rates would increase by 10 to 13 percent." He even repeated it to make it official:
ANGLE: Now, what the CBO -- and I can show you a chart here. CBO did a chart on what would happen to rates in individual, small-business, and large-group markets. And you see, in the non-group market -- that's the individual market. If you'll show -- the CBO found that after bringing in all sorts of people -- younger people, healthier people -- after all factors are considered, the bottom line is that rates would increase by 10 to 13 percent. Ten to 13 percent. That is what Senator Alexander was saying.
The president disputed that number, saying, "Well, no, it's a different thing." He came back after being handed a piece of paper by an aide and said, "Well, yes, in fact, the reason I'm paying 10 to 13 percent more is because I'm getting better insurance." Actually, the CBO found that that would cost 30 percent more, up to 30 percent more, but that after you take everything out, the net increase for individuals would be 10 to 13 percent. The president has now essentially embraced that number and seems to have confirmed that Senator Alexander was right; he was not -- with the one stipulation that it'd be different, better insurance, because it may be required by the federal government.
Actually, the bottom line on this topic is that the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the bill would reduce premiums for most policies purchased on the individual market. Angle only reached his "bottom line" after ignoring one of the bill's most important components -- substantial subsidies that would help many people in the individual market pay for their insurance. The CBO estimated that the federal subsidies would cover two-thirds of the premium costs and reduce premiums for most people purchasing insurance on the individual market. PolitiFact.com explained it well:
People who have to go out and buy insurance on their own (the individual market) would see rates increase by 10 to 13 percent. But more than half of those people -- 57 percent, in fact -- would be eligible for subsidies to help them pay for the insurance. People who get subsidies would see their premiums drop by more than half, according to the CBO. So most people would see their premiums stay the same or potentially drop.
The very on-screen chart Angle referred to specifically noted that the "10 to 13 percent" figure didn't take the effect of subsidies into consideration:
As we here at County Fair have said before, so much for zero tolerance.
From the Drudge Report:
Drudge's link goes to a John Birch Society article, headlined "Beware of McCain's Freedom-Destroying Dietary Supplement Regulatory Bill."
The [Congressional Budget Office] analysis estimated that average premiums for people buying insurance individually would be 10 to 13 percent higher in 2016 under the Senate legislation, as Alexander said. But the policies would cover more, and about half the people would be getting substantial government subsidies to defray the extra costs.
As the president said, if the policies offered today were offered in 2016, they would be considerably cheaper under the plan, even without subsidies. One big reason: Many more healthy young people would be signing up for the coverage because insurance would become mandatory. They are cheap to insure and would moderate costs for others.
Moreover, the analysis estimated that almost 60 percent of the people covered under individual policies would qualify for subsidies, bringing their own costs down by more than half from what they pay now.
Handicapping today's health care summit, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza makes this observation [emphasis added]:
With Democrats in charge of all levers of power in Washington, Republicans rarely get the sort of opportunity they have today to make their case and show their stuff to the American people.
I don't buy it.
Why? Because Fox News, the most-watched news cable news channel, is, to borrow the recent vernacular of Rep. Anthony Weiner, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party. Fox News is the broadcast arm of the Opposition Party, and GOP members of Congress, or least the leadership, appear to have carte blanche to the Fox News airwaves, right?
Well, over the last nine months, how much time have Republicans spent on Fox News spelling out their vision for health care reform? Republicans have done lots of whining about how the White House has locked them out of the process, and that all the really awesome health care reform ideas from the GOP side have been jettisoned. Republicans are quite serious they have their own health care reform plan, so why haven't they been touting it on television?
Raise your hand if you've seen a single Republican appear on Fox News in the last nine months who spent a large block of time seriously detailing what the GOP health care plan stands for. Cillizza at the Post claims today's televised summit is a rare chance for Republicans to explain their position. But that's not quite right because if Republicans really cared about making their position known (i.e. if they have a plan other than opposing Obama), they have access to Fox News and could appear every hour of every day of the week detailing GOP health care reform.
They could use Fox News to talk themselves blue in the face about health care, to the point where viewers could recite GOP talking points at will. So no, I don't think today's televised summit represents a rare chance for the GOP to talk about health care reform. Thanks to Fox News' open door policy, the GOP has that chance every day of the year. It's just that the GOP hasn't shown much interest in doing that.
From a February 25 post on John King's Twitter feed:
One thing I've been wondering as the ACORN pimp hoax has played out over the last week, is whose reputation would take a hit in light of the embarrassing revelation? I knew Andrew Breitbart's already-hollow credibility would suffer another blow, as we highlighted how he and his ACORN cohorts, as well as Fox News, knowingly pushed the phony tale about how James O'Keefe walked into the community organizing offices dressed like a ridiculous looking pimp. (The meme was crucial for the mocking angle to the ACORN undercover sting.)
I assumed that that story would ensnare some right-wing bloggers who would foolishly try to defend the ACORN hoax. And while it's true that Patterico stumbled in right on cue and did his usual blogosphere face-plant, by and large not even Breitbart's RW pals have tried to defend the ACORN pimp hoax. (A wise move, indeed.)
So imagine my surprise when it was New York Times' public editor, Clark Hoyt, who strolled onto the scene and emerged as the other big loser from this story. Hoyt earns the embarrassing honors for the bungling way he's treated the attempt by blogger Brad Friedman to get the Times to acknowledge that it got duped by the ACORN pimp hoax, and to now set the record straight.
The first part was easy: Hoyt completely agrees there's no evidence to support the falsehood that O'Keefe was dressed as a pimp while he filmed inside ACORN offices. There's no proof even though the Times itself on several occasions made that exact claim. And Hoyt also confirmed that he would urge the newsroom to stop making false claim about the pimp story.
But as I noted earlier this week, Hoyt told Friedman a correction would not be forthcoming.
After Friedman published his extraordinarily detailed analysis of the pimp caper, as well as explained in detail why the Times really ought to post a correction, Hoyt emailed him again, with this gem, and dug the hole the little deeper [emphasis added]:
My position is that I would recommend a correction if one were warranted after The Times re-reported the question of O'Keefe's costume to determine the facts independently. Every person in this argument is pushing a political agenda, and The Times would need to find out for itself what actually happened at those Acorn offices. It is up to the paper to decide whether the investment of effort is worthwhile.
Got read the whole email, here. The condescending tone is quite remarkable. But note the highlighted section above: Hoyt claims that before making any formal correction, the Times would have to independently determine what happened inside the ACORN offices.
Makes sense, right? Well, except that, on multiple occasions the Times falsely reported O'Keefe was wearing his pimp get-up without first independently determining what happened inside the ACORN offices.
Do you see Hoyt's corkscrew logic? The Times got the pimp story wrong because it essentially followed the phony lead of Breitbart and crew. Now that's it's been proven to be false, the Times won't correct its inaccurate reporting until the Times, for the first time since the ACORN story broke, "find[s] out for itself what actually happened at those Acorn offices."
Um, wouldn't that have been a good idea before the Times starting making factual errors about the ACORN story?
I mean, give me a break.
And oh yeah, the Times would have to first "find out for itself what actually happened at those Acorn offices," before posting a correction. But by the way, the Times probably won't ever bother to find out what happened. So thanks for writing in and have a nice day.
This is really just amazing.
UPDATED: And yes, as I mentioned earlier this week, recall that this is same Clark Hoyt who devoted an entire column last year in order to scold the Times news team for not reacting fast enough to the all-important ACORN story. The failure was so severe that the Times assigned a staffer to monitor opinion media so the daily would never again be caught so flat footed when a hugely important story broke from the right-wing blogosphere.
But now, when we discover that ACORN story wasn't entirely what it appeared, Hoyt begs off.
From The Drudge Report: