Here's Chris Matthews, purported political expert, offering his take on the prospects for health care reform:
The way I see it, he's [President Obama] got three ways to go at this point.
One: They can challenge the Senate rules and ram through a bill with just 50 votes with the help of the Vice President to break the tie. That's what today's lede in the New York Times suggested they're threatening to do. [Matthews later made clear he was referring to using the reconciliation process]
Number Two: They can go for a moderate bill, politically sellable to a few Republicans and get the 60 Senate votes needed for regular passage.
Three: They can go back and build a dramatic rock-'em-sock-'em liberal bill, stand ready to take the loss and blame Republicans for the failure.
Matthews is forgetting something: 60 votes are not needed for "regular passage." Sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture, at which point 50 votes (plus Biden) are all that is required for passage.
What this means is that a health care bill with a public plan could pass if some of the conservative Senators who have made noises about opposing such a plan prove unwilling to filibuster the bill, even if they don't plan on voting for it. Joe Lieberman, for example.
The obvious meaning of this is that when a Joe Lieberman or a Ben Nelson expresses skepticism about the public plan, reporters should ask them if they will filibuster it, or allow it to come to a vote. But that rarely happens. Instead, reporters let those Senators off the hook, allowing them to get away without taking a strong stand.
Which, of course, is exactly what some of them want: to avoid taking a stand. Joe Lieberman may not want to vote for a public plan -- but he probably doesn't want to tell Connecticut voters he'll filibuster, either. He's probably hoping he never has to; that his statements of opposition will ensure it never comes to a vote. That's a perfectly valid, if not terribly brave, approach for him to take. But there is absolutely no reason reporters should play along with it. It's their job to press politicians to take a stand, not help them avoid doing so.
Following Media Matters' item, NBC's Tom Costello corrects his report on the tax proposals in the House health care reform bill.
From Costello's August 19 post on NBC's The Daily Nightly blog:
On NBC Nightly News Tuesday, we tried to provide answers on how much the Health Care Reform proposal in the House would mean to American taxpayers. In short, how much will taxes go up?
As it stands, a House proposal would tax family incomes over $350,000 at one percent, with a maximum of $1,500 in additional tax. Family incomes over $500,000 would be taxed at 1.5 percent, up to $9,000. And family incomes over $1 million would be taxed at 5.4 percent, or $9,000+.
The tax rate climbs if certain savings are not realized.
The math is easy enough, but a simple mistake cascaded into a series of errors on our broadcast.
We applied the tax hike numbers to the entire income, rather than income over a certain threshold.
No political bias, just a simple, silly mistake. My mistake!
We'll set the record straight on NBC Nightly News tonight, as Lester Holt sits in.
If you were to take Fox News host Andrew Napolitano's word for it, Rep. Barney Frank was just being rude to his constitutents when he had a heated exchange with a voter last night.
But if you were to look beyond the edited moment presented by Fox and Napolitano, you would learn something else:
"On what planet do you spend most of your time?" Frank retorted when a woman in the crowd compared President Obama's push for health-care reform to the policies of Nazi Germany while holding up a pamphlet depicting the president with a Hitler mustache, a LaRouche anti-Obama health reform campaign image.
"This policy is actually already on its way out. It already has been defeated by LaRouche. My question to you is, why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?" the woman had asked.
"You stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis," Frank, who is Jewish, blasted back.
"Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table," he continued. "... I have no interest in doing it."
Oh, so the woman held up a sign of President Obama with a Hitler mustache then asked Rep. Frank why he supported Nazi policies. I can't imagine why Rep. Frank might be upset about that. For the record, here's the exchange you wouldn't have seen if you were watching Napolitano's presentation on Fox:
Yesterday, a variety of progressives -- from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Health Care for America Now to this blog -- criticized NBC and the Wall Street Journal for a change in the wording of their poll questions about the public plan for health care reform.
As I explained last night, the NBC/WSJ poll dropped the word "choice," and shifted the focus of the question from the impact a public plan would have on consumers to the impact it would have on insurance companies.
NBC's Chuck Todd claimed that the word "choice" made the original question "biased," but didn't explain how.
Feeling the heat, NBC released a statement last night from the pollsters who conduct their poll. But that statement did not explain what was wrong with the original wording, or address the change in focus of the question.
Now NBC says its next poll will include both wordings:
NBC's White House correspondent Chuck Todd told the Huffington Post on Wednesday afternoon that pollsters Bill McInturf and Peter Hart will ask respondents two questions regarding the public plan for their September study.
Todd's decision to put both questions in the mix also should placate a host of progressive health care proponents who were critical of the NBC pollsters.
On Wednesday, Todd defended the decision to drop "choice" from the survey, calling the word a "trigger" that sent a certain "message" to respondents. And while he argued that the revised way of asking the question was "very neutral" he admitted that the idea of putting both options side by side was "something we wanted to test."
So far as I've seen, neither Todd nor the pollsters nor anybody else connected with the poll has yet explained how describing a plan that gives people a choice as giving people a "choice" is "biased" -- or why the new wording was better.
Given the decision to reinstate the choice wording, it seems safe to assume we'll never see such an explanation.
Tom DeLay on Hardball: "I would like the president to produce his birth certificate."
MSNBC's Monica Novotny: "Confusion in the health care debate: Should the WH blame town halls, the GOP, conservative media outlets, or itself?"
Notice what's missing from that list of possible culprits? Yep: MSNBC and other media outlets. Lousy health care reporting hasn't been limited to just conservative media outlets.
Even today, MSNBC has told us over and over again that there is confusion, and speculated about why there is confusion. What hasn't MSNBC done? Spent any significant time giving people detailed, factual explanations of health care. Instead, we've gotten stuff like this.
Last week, Media Matters for America documented that JC Penney was one of several companies that recently advertised on Rush Limbaugh's hate-filled radio show, despite having been included on a 2006 list of advertisers that reportedly requested that none of their ads be broadcast during Air America programs.
According to a tip from a Media Matters reader, JC Penney is now stating that its "company policy is to run no advertising on any programming that is political or religious in nature - and that includes the Rush Limbaugh show."
Media Matters has the audio of a JC Penney ad that aired on New York's WABC-AM at the beginning of Limbaugh's May 29 show at 12:06 p.m. ET.
Here's the text of the email JC Penney reportedly sent:
Thank you for contacting us online.
Our company policy is to run no advertising on any programming that is political or religious in nature - and that includes the Rush Limbaugh show. We have a record of supporting candidates ? Democrat and Republican -- that have an interest in issues that are important to the retail industry.
We welcome comments and suggestions from our customers that call matters to our attention and enable us to address each issue. Customer concerns are always forwarded to the proper areas responsible for the issue. Your comments are a great help toward increasing satisfaction of all JCPenney customers.
As a company servicing half of America's families for over 100 years, our customers have come to know JCPenney as their trusted retail partner.
At JCPenney, what matters to you, matters to us. Customers like you are our most valuable resource for creating the optimal shopping experience.
Thank you for taking the time to share your input. We look forward to
serving you in the future.
JCP.com Customer Service
Every Day Matters
On Monday, we posted the text of a similar email apparently sent by Home Depot asserting that Home Depot doesn't "support the Rush Limbaugh radio show." Media Matters posted audio of a Home Depot ad that did, in fact, air during Limbaugh's show.
He's been chasing his tail over the whole Nazi-mini-mob connection for more than a week now and honestly, it's sorta sad to watch.
TWS is peeved that anyone would think that right-wingers protesting health reform would brandish Nazi posters and talk about Hitler. TWS's frustration is palpable. (Building a political movement around Hitler posters? Not such a good idea.) But it's obviously misdirected. If deep thinkers at places like TWS think it's wrong to bring swastika posters to town hall rallies, than why doesn't TWS condemn it?
And more importantly, if TWS thinks only "idiots" talk about Hitler as part of our national discourse, why doesn't anybody get up the nerve to call out Rush Limbaugh when he does it? I asked this question last week and never did get a response, so I'll ask it again: Has anyone at TWS condemned Limbaugh, either in print or online, for recently equating the Obama White House with a Nazi organization? Anyone?
We'll see if McCormack can follow this rather obvious logic: If the most-listened-to conservative in the country openly refers to Obama and his administration as being Nazi-like, and then nobody in the Right says boo about it, guess what? Mini-mob members (and self-identified "conservative" "Republicans") take that as a green light to bring Nazi posters and yell "Heil Hitler" at rallies.
So until TWS gets up the nerve to, y'know actually disagree with Rush Limbaugh, save us the lectures about how nobody on the right would dare evoke Nazi and Hitler. It's laughable, because the guy who runs the GOP does it all the time.
This morning, NBC News' First Read reports that the "rampant misinformation" conservatives have been flooding the zone with is deceiving the American public about the health care reform plans of President Obama and congressional Democrats. Wonder of wonders, they even admit that they are partially at fault, stating that "credible messengers" have been "using the media to get some of this misinformation out there," which they say should "worry… the news media that have been covering the story":
*** Rampant misinformation: One of the reasons why the public appears so wary about Obama's health-care plans is due to all the misinformation out there. Majorities in the poll believe the plans would give health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants (55%), would lead to a government takeover of the health system (54%), and would use taxpayer dollars to pay for women to have abortions (50%) -- all claims that nonpartisan fact-checkers say are untrue about the legislation that has emerged so far from Congress. Additionally, 45% think the reform proposals would allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care for the elderly, which also isn't true. When you have nearly half of the public believing that the government is willing to pull the plug on grandma, you're in trouble.
*** FOX vs. CNN/MSNBC: Here's another way to look at the misinformation: In our poll, 72% of self-identified FOX News viewers believe the health-care plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79% of them say it will lead to a government takeover, 69% think that it will use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75% believe that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly. But it would be incorrect to suggest that this is ONLY coming from conservative viewers who tune in to FOX. In fact, 41% of CNN/MSNBC viewers believe the misinformation about illegal immigrants, 39% believe the government takeover stuff, 40% believe the abortion misperception, and 30% believe the stuff about pulling the plug on grandma. What's more, a good chunk of folks who get their news from broadcast TV (NBC, ABC, CBS) believe these things, too. This is about credible messengers using the media to get some of this misinformation out there, not as much about the filter itself. These numbers should worry Democratic operatives, as well as the news media that have been covering this story.
Surely, in the wake of these results, NBC News must be redoubling its efforts to ensure that its own airwaves are not conduits for such misinformation, right? And yet, from the same Nightly News broadcast in which those poll results were detailed:
NBC News correspondent Tom Costello falsely reported that the health care income surtax in the House tri-committee bill could mean a surcharge of $7,000 for those "with a taxable income of more than $350,000" and a surcharge of $15,000 for those "earning $500,000." In fact, since the surcharge rates established in the bill would apply only to the portion of a household's income that exceeds $350,000 or $500,000, respectively, families making between $350,000 and $500,000 would not pay more than $1,500, and families making between $500,000 and $1 million would not pay more than $9,000.
Oops. I guess they still aren't "worr[ied]" enough to do some basic fact-checking before they air their stories. Maybe next time?