From the January 22 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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In a new study, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) interviewed a number of women whose access to abortion care was severely impeded as a result of Texas' anti-choice law, HB 2. In spite of mounting evidence that lack of access to safe and legal abortion has dire consequences, conservative media have insisted that Texas' legislative restrictions are desirable and do not create an undue burden on women seeking care.
As explained by RH Reality Check Reporting Fellow Teddy Wilson, this latest study confirms the "disastrous effects that Texas' omnibus abortion law has had on women and families" through clinic closures and restricted access to services. By interviewing 23 women "who either had their abortion appointments cancelled when clinics closed or who sought care at closed clinics" following the passage of HB 2, TxPEP found that women's health care "was delayed, and in some cases [women were] prevented altogether" from obtaining an abortion, according to a news release about the study. Investigators noted that the subjects not only "reported a lack of information and confusion" in the wake of clinic closures, but also that once they had located an affordable provider, many "faced substantial added travel and hotel costs when seeking abortion services."
Despite stories like these, conservative media have waged a continued campaign of misinformation about the law, insisting that its restrictions are medically necessary and pose no substantial burden on women's access to care. When the HB 2 law was first passed in 2013, Fox News contributors Monica Crowley and Kirsten Powers denied the impact it would have on Texas women. Powers claimed that reproductive rights groups were exaggerating the impact the law would have on women's access to care, claiming: "I don't think that many clinics are going to close." Crowley agreed, adding that reproductive rights advocates always "try to go right to hyperbole -- that women are going to have to flee to Tijuana because they're not going to have access in Texas to abortion. It's all ridiculous."
TxPEP previously analyzed HB 2's effect on wait times at clinics and found that they appeared to increase in Dallas and Fort Worth, with waits so long that the existing clinics seemed unable to meet the total demand for services. An additional TxPEP study previously found that between 100,000 and 240,000 Texas women between the ages of 18 and 49 have attempted to self-induce an abortion, demonstrating how increased barriers to accessing abortion in Texas might put women at risk.
Dr. Daniel Grossman, a co-author in both TxPEP findings on HB 2's effects on patients, explained that the new study "demonstrates that the sudden closure of clinics created significant obstacles to obtain care, forcing some women to obtain abortion later than they wanted, which increases the risks and cost." He noted that those challenges caused some women "to continue with an unwanted pregnancy." Grossman added that if HB 2 remained in effect, the undue burden on women would grow, as "wait times to get an appointment will likely increase in most cities across the state, as they recently have in Dallas and Ft. Worth, because the 10 remaining facilities will not be able to meet the demand for services statewide."
RH Reality Check's Wilson summarized one of the many interviews in the study as an example of this experience:
Dr. Valerie Peterson, a single mother in her 30s residing in Austin, said that HB 2 had a direct impact on her when she needed to terminate a pregnancy. Doctors detected a possible fetal abnormality during the first 12 weeks of her pregnancy.
When Peterson was 16 weeks into her pregnancy, the fetus was diagnosed with holoprosencephaly (HPE), a brain development disorder. She said that the severity of the disorder left her with two options: carry the doomed pregnancy to term or terminate the pregnancy.
Peterson's doctor referred her to an abortion provider in Austin, but because of the demand she was unable to secure an appointment for three weeks. "Every day I had to remain pregnant was emotionally painful," Peterson said.
Even after she was able to secure an earlier appointment with another provider, the procedure would take four days to complete due to Texas law. It was then that she made the decision to seek the care she needed at a provider in Florida, despite the additional cost.
"I was ultimately able to access abortion in a timely manner," Peterson said. "However, HB 2 leaves many women without hope and without options." She said that she hopes the Supreme Court overturns the law, which she called "downright cruel."
As TxPEP's work shows, the predicted consequences of HB 2 were far from "ridiculous," as Fox News claimed. In particular, the impact of the law on lower-income women and women of color is disproportionate. Huffington Post senior legal reporter Laura Bassett warned that HB 2 would "end abortion access for low-income women in rural areas of the state, who are already having a hard time finding providers." These fears were confirmed in the interviews conducted by TxPEP, as many of the women emphasized "the challenges they faced" in trying to locate care, including poverty.
The Supreme Court will hear the case challenging Texas' HB 2, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, on March 2. NARAL explained in an editorial by President Ilyse Hogue and accompanying video that the stakes for women could not be higher:
This spring, the Supreme Court will be hearing a case that gets to the heart of what it means to have access to our rights. A positive outcome of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt will send the message that our reproductive rights can not be eroded. The court can stand up and say that state laws should not be used to keep women from accessing their right to reproductive care including abortion.
Conversely, the court could give a stamp of approval to the political efforts to dismantle reproductive rights until it is a right only in theory--inaccessible to millions of American women who live in certain zip codes or have lower incomes.
As the president of Whole Woman's Health commented to The Austin Chronicle: "This is the real world and these laws have real implications on real women's lives."
Watch NARAL's Roe v. Wade anniversary video:
An editorial in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel criticized efforts by Florida lawmakers to restrict women's access to safe and legal abortion. On January 19, a piece of legislation mirroring Texas' controversial anti-abortion bill HB 2 was passed out of a Florida House committee panel. A January 20 editorial by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel rebuked the Florida Legislature for "squandering time" with political "grandstanding" about women's safety while pushing for new regulations on clinics that have "nothing to do with safety or quality, either."
The editorial board's criticism comes as evidence mounts that HB 2 has had a deleterious effect on the health and safety of women in Texas. The editors noted that Planned Parenthood says that if Florida passes similar legislation, the organization "might have to close some of its 16 clinics in Florida," depriving women not only of the ability to obtain safe and legal abortions, but also of access to a wide variety of health care services. The editorial board argued that the legislation shows that 43 years "after the landmark Roe v. Wade case made abortion legal nationwide, ending abortion remains a goal of the Florida Legislature." From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (emphasis added):
In what has become an annual ritual, the Legislature is again trying to place barriers in front of women who seek an abortion.
This time, they're going after the state's 65 abortion clinics, trying to make it harder for them to stay in business by making them comply with the tougher regulations placed on outpatient surgery centers and hospitals.
HB 233, sponsored by Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, would force abortion clinics to make costly renovations. Some of the regulations have nothing to do with safety or quality, either. Rather, they have to do with the width of hallways, the size of closets and even the color of wall paint.
If the bill passes, Planned Parenthood said it might have to close some of its 16 clinics in Florida. In Texas, it says about 20 clinics closed after a similar law there passed three years ago.
Forty three years after the landmark Roe v. Wade case made abortion legal nationwide, ending abortion remains a goal of the Florida Legislature.
Last year, for example, the Legislature passed a law requiring women to wait 24 hours after visiting an abortion provider before having the procedure. A lawsuit has placed that law on hold. There's legitimate concerns that forcing women to visit a clinic twice, and force those who don't live nearby to find a place to stay overnight, creates an undue burden.
The year before, lawmakers passed a law prohibiting abortions after a fetus might be considered viable, possibly at 23 weeks, unless the mother's life is at risk.
The list goes on.
We send folks to Tallahassee to represent us, to do the critical business of the state and to spend tax money wisely. Yet every year, we watch them try to score political points with their base by chipping away at a woman's right to choose.
Florida faces many tough problems. Abortion rights is not one of them.
During coverage of the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, Fox News correspondent Shannon Bream reported that a recent poll found "81 percent of Americans think abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy" without disclosing that the poll was commissioned by a "pro-life" group.
Bream did not mention that the poll was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, a self-identified "pro-life" group, that supports numerous anti-choice activities including the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., and believes life begins at "the moment of conception." According to Catholics for Choice, the Knights of Columbus has waged "a decades-long battle against abortion legislation."
Other polling has found that 39 percent of Americans do not self-identify as either "pro-choice" or "pro-life" and that the wording of polling on abortion can influence the outcome. Vox found that "more people support abortion rights when the poll language focuses on women." A 2014 NARAL-commissioned poll of registered voters found "68.7 percent said that government should not restrict a woman's access to abortion."
From the January 22 broadcast of America's Newsroom (emphasis added):
SHANNON BREAM: And ahead of the event today we've got an interesting new poll from Marist. It shows that 81 percent of Americans think that abortion should be limited to first 3 months of pregnancy. That includes 66 percent, two thirds of people who in this survey identified themselves as pro-choice. The folks here today are arguing that there is common ground and they say, rather than fighting, they hope they can find that.
In a segment on Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News correspondent Shannon Bream, reported on Planned Parenthood's lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) for their series of deceptively-edited videos claiming to show the organization's staff engaged in unlawful actions related to fetal tissue donation. Independent analysis found that the videos were intentionally manipulated to portray the group negatively. Bream, who has a long history of biased reporting on reproductive rights, repeated the debunked claim that Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal tissue to for-profit and described the videos as "investigatory journalism." From the January 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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A recent study from the Women's Media Center found that male journalists disproportionately report and commentate on reproductive rights topics in print media. According to Mic staff writer Julie Zeilinger, the study found that in 2014 and 2015, "[m]ale journalists wrote 52% of the articles focused on reproductive issues," and that "41% of all quotes in these pieces were attributed to men":
The study, which examined 1,385 news and opinion pieces about reproductive rights published between Aug. 1, 2014, and July 31, 2015, in 12 high-circulation sources, found that some publications accounted for this issue better than others. Male and female journalists reported on the topic in near equal numbers for the New York Daily News, and women did so more often than men for USA Today and the Washington Post. But many others, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Sun-Times, skewed male, and men filed reproductive rights-related stories nearly twice as often as women at the New York Times and the San Jose Mercury News.
In comments to Mic, the president of the Women's Media Center, Julie Burton,explained the implications of the study. "Reproductive health, rights, and choices are fundamental and inescapable parts of women's lives," said Burton, "[y]et our study shows that women are often left out of the discussion. Women -- who are 51 percent of the population -- only wrote slightly more than a third."
The consequences of this exclusion are even higher in an election year. According to Burton, in spite of the lack of attention given to reproductive rights in any of the Democratic debates, the issue "will almost surely be an issue in November's presidential election...[y]et our study shows that in articles about elections and reproductive issues, men's voices prevail."
The research findings echoed a study from 2012 which examined 35 national publications and found that in election stories about birth control, men garnered 75 percent of quotes, and 67 percent of quotes about stories involving Planned Parenthood during part of the 2012 presidential election cycle. Similarly an earlier report from the Women's Media Center found in a study of the 10 largest newspapers, evening news broadcasts, two wire services, and four internet news sites, that 65 percent of the political reporting was done by men.
Media Matters' own studies show that women are underrepresented in broadcast and cable news. On the Sunday morning news shows from the broadcast networks and CNN throughout 2014, men made up between 73 and 77 percent of all guests, and overwhelmingly received solo interviews. These statistics have largely been unchanged at least as far back as 2008. In January 2014, two dozen women leaders and organizations urged the six network and cable news heads in a letter to address this lack of diversity on the Sunday morning news shows.
In a January 18 article for New York Magazine, writer-at-large Rebecca Traister joined other media figures in criticizing a lack of questioning on reproductive rights in the January 17 Democratic debate in South Carolina. Traister characterized the silence as "particularly galling" given the prioritization of questions about Bill Clinton's sexual indiscretions and potential duties as "First Gentleman" over discussion of Hillary Clinton's "breathtakingly comprehensive" reproductive rights agenda. According to Traister, there have been "three questions in four debates that somehow relate to the masculinity of a guy who wasn't even on the stage, but not one about the millions of Americans who experience restricted access to legal abortion services," many of whom "also have limited access to sex-education programs, and affordable contraception."
Traister pointed out that the exclusion of reproductive rights from the debates was also notable because of Clinton's recent efforts "campaigning vocally and without apology against the Hyde Amendment," a budgetary rider that bans the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion, making the procedure prohibitively expensive for many women. According to Traister, Clinton's stance on the Hyde Amendment "dropped a bomb on the political conversation about abortion...[y]et no one at any of the four official Democratic debates has asked Clinton about her remarkable amplification of feminist argument." Traister wrote (emphasis added):
There was a question, directed at Hillary, about the role her husband, former president Bill Clinton, would play in her administration, and one directed at Bernie about what he thought about Bill Clinton's past sexual indiscretions. If you include the previous debate's question about whether Hillary would have her husband do flower-arranging as First Gentleman, that makes three questions in four debates that somehow relate to the masculinity of a guy who wasn't even on the stage, but not one about the millions of Americans who experience restricted access to legal abortion services, many of them Americans who also have limited access to sex-education programs and affordable contraception, not to mention the jobs, educations, state benefits, affordable child care, and early schooling options that would make decisions about if, how, and under what circumstances to start or grow a family more just.
The lack of interest in the topic of reproductive justice is particularly galling, since this primary season -- which has included talk of political revolution coming mostly from Sanders -- has lately also featured some revolutionary language coming from Clinton, not a candidate usually known for being on the radical edge of debate.
But as too few people seemed to have noticed, Hillary Clinton has spent the past ten days campaigning vocally and without apology against the Hyde Amendment. Hyde, a legislative rider first passed in 1976 and added to appropriations bills every year since, prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, which means that the low-income women, many of them women of color, who rely on Medicaid for health insurance cannot use their insurance to terminate their pregnancies except in cases of rape, incest, or their life being in danger.
It is a discriminatory law that perpetuates both economic and racial inequality.And the notion of repealing it has remained a third rail in American politics until about five minutes ago ... or, more precisely, until this summer, when California representative Barbara Lee introduced the EACH Woman Act, which would effectively repeal Hyde. So far, the bill has 109 co-sponsors but a vanishingly small chance of going anywhere.
Clinton, in her lengthy, thorough statements about the relationship between reproductive-health-care access and economic inequality, dropped a bomb on the political conversation about abortion. It would be difficult to overstate how radical it is to hear a mainstream politician address the inability of women to make reproductive choices about their bodies and lives as an economic issue, central to class and racial discrimination in America. Yet no one at any of the four official Democratic debates has asked Clinton about her remarkable amplification of feminist argument.
A CNN report on a federal lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood against the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) repeated the debunked smear that a series of undercover videos released by CMP show Planned Parenthood officials "discussing the sale of fetal tissue." In fact, the officials were discussing reimbursement costs for tissue donation, and multiple state and federal inquiries into that allegation have shown it to be without merit.
From the January 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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All of the major broadcast and cable networks in the U.S. suspended their programming on January 12 to air President Obama's last State of the Union address. All except Univisión and Telemundo, which instead aired their regularly scheduled telenovelas.
Univisión and Telemundo, respectively the largest and second largest Spanish-language networks in the United States, are among the most trusted sources of information for the growing Hispanic community.
Instead of giving the presidential address primetime coverage, Univisión aired the telenovela Pasión y poder, and Telemundo aired Bajo el mismo cielo, opting to live-stream the address online. NBC Universo -- an NBC Universal-owned Spanish-language Telemundo affiliate -- did broadcast the speech, but the channel is only accessible to cable-TV viewers.
According to recent census data, Hispanics are now the largest minority in the United States: Latinos constitute a little over 17 percent of the United States population. In 2016, over 26 million Latinos will be eligible to vote for the next president. Though the Latino voting bloc is becoming increasingly important, engaging them politically remains a challenge, as they repeatedly lag behind other demographics in voter turnout.
Univisión and Telemundo did a disservice to the community they serve by not broadcasting the president's State of the Union speech, which largely focused on issues that Latinos prioritize. Contrary to common media misconceptions, Latinos are not single-issue voters. In fact, evidence consistently shows that Latino voters are most concerned about jobs and the economy, healthcare, education and immigration, all of which received significant mentions during President Obama's address.
Telemundo and Univisión's lack of coverage did not go unnoticed. The Daily Show tweeted "If you're not into #SOTU, here are some other programming choices" with a graphic reading "Bored? Other things that are on TV right now." The graphic showed that, unlike ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and Fox News, Univisión wasn't broadcasting the State of the Union. Instead, Pasión y poder is listed.
California State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-33), who has championed immigrant rights in the California legislature, also criticized the lack of coverage in a statement to Media Matters:
It is very disappointing that neither Telemundo nor Univision aired the President's State of the Union address on live TV. Are Novelas, which perpetuate sexism, racism, homophobia and classism, more important than the civic engagement and education of our community? This is a blatant missed opportunity and disservice to Latinos during such a crucial presidential election year. This is simply unacceptable and I call on the executives at all major Spanish-language broadcast outlets to do the community a service and carry this important address in years to come!
From the January 13 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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The first set of amicus briefs for Whole Woman's Health v. Cole, a Supreme Court case that will determine the constitutionality of a Texas anti-choice law that severely limits women's access to abortion and broader medical care, has recently been filed. Many of these briefs respond to Justice Anthony Kennedy's past invocation of "post-abortion regret" and the "severe depression" that supposedly follows, an "antiabortion shibboleth" repeated in right-wing media's long-standing effort to stigmatize women who have had abortions.
During the January 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney joined Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in a discussion of Varney's villains of the week, which Varney suggested include Planned Parenthood or alternatively its president, Cecile Richards. Varney based his designation of Cecile Richards as a "villain" on the misleading portrait of the health care provider based on the deceptively-edited videos produced by the anti-choice organization Center For Medical Progress (CMP), named by Media Matters as "Misinformer of the Year." CMP's videos have been debunked by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, which called the effort "a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal." Multiple investigations into allegations against Planned Parenthood stemming from videos targeting the organization have found no illegal activity taking place.
Varney concluded the segment by saying the organization should be blocked from receiving public funding, to which O'Reilly agreed. Planned Parenthood affiliates receives public funding from a few different government programs, either from Medicaid reimbursement for services provided or in the form of grants to provide sex education, birth control to low-income patients, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and cancer screenings.
From the January 8 edition of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor:
BILL O'REILLY: All right, villain number two.
STUART VARNEY: Planned Parenthood.
O'REILLY: The whole thing?
VARNEY: Well if you want to pick on Cecile Richards, who runs the operation, let's do that.
O'REILLY: All right, let's make her the villain.
VARNEY: That's the villain.
O'REILLY: All right, there she is.
VARNEY: Now, Congress, or the Republicans, want to defund Planned Parenthood for one year. Cecile Richards says we don't want that. We're going to bring in Hillary Rodham Clinton. We are going to support her. She has access to $20 million worth of Planned Parenthood funds. OK, got that.
O'REILLY: What does that mean?
VARNEY: They have a pool of money.
O'REILLY: Planned Parenthood.
VARNEY: Yes, to which -- this is not taxpayer money. But that money is now available to Hillary.
O'REILLY: In donations? In the form of donations? Planned Parenthood is going to fund her campaign this election? [CROSSTALK]
VARNEY: Yes, to some degree.
O'REILLY: All right.
VARNEY: Look, my problem with this goes back to those tapes we saw last year.
VARNEY: I thought that was absolutely inhuman when you saw a woman describing how to crush a fetus, to maximize the body parts.
O'REILLY: The harvesting of the organs.
VARNEY: The harvesting, to crush [a] fetus for the best outcome for the money. [CROSSTALK]
O'REILLY: It was terrible and clear-thinking people -- but I'm not sure about the villain thing because Planned Parenthood would support Hillary Clinton no matter what.
VARNEY: But look, Bill, I don't want a dime of my taxpayer money going to support an organization which is --
O'REILLY: But you just said it wasn't.
VARNEY: No. We're trying to defund Planned Parenthood. That's what the Republicans - [CROSSTALK]
O'REILLY: But that's never going to happen because the Democrats in the Senate will block it.
VARNEY: Irrelevant. I don't want a dime of my money going to any organization that does that kind of thing. And I don't care whether you are on the left or the right.
O'REILLY: OK, do you really feel that Ms. Richards in her belief system, which is abortion on demand, selling harvested body parts from dead babies' fetuses, depending on your point of view, do you think that that in itself is villainous?
VARNEY: Yes. It is villainous to expect me to contribute to it and to force me to contribute to it through taxation. That is villainous.
O'REILLY: They say none of that money goes to abortions or to harvesting of organs.
VARNEY: When you saw that tape of the woman saying here's how you crush the fetus - [CROSSTALK]
O'REILLY: It was appalling It was disgusting.
VARNEY: That's absolutely inhuman. Out of bounds.
O'REILLY: Immediately the president should have signed an executive order immediately freezing any tax money in there. That's what he should have done.
VARNEY: In my opinion, yes.
O'REILLY: But of course it's politics associated with Planned Parenthood.
VARNEY: It's villainy.
The editorial board of New York City's El Diario and Los Angeles' La Opinión explained why the Republican zeal to defund Planned Parenthood would hurt Latinas the most.
In a January 6 editorial that ran in both El Diario and Los Angeles' La Opinión -- the daily Spanish-language newspapers with the largest circulation in the U.S. -- the board bemoaned the latest Republican push to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, saying it's "an aggression directed at low-income women who currently depend on the organization to obtain basic health services." According to research from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, existing disparity in access to healthcare for Latinas has "gone from bad to a human rights violation." As the editorial board noted, the move to defund Planned Parenthood would disproportionately affect the Hispanic community, and demonstrates how reproductive rights have become one of the most important issues driving millennial Latinas to the polls.
According to the board, "hundreds of thousands" of young Latinas receive important services from Planned Parenthood health centers, which have become a crucial resource for the community, considering that Latinas "present the highest levels of reproductive cancers, unplanned births and sexually-transmitted diseases."
From the January 6 editorial in El Diario and La Opinión (emphasis original):
The House of Representatives' latest attempts to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood reveals that, for them, it is a priority to be tough on abortion even when the only real harm being done is limiting access to medical services for low-income women.
An independent estimate found that only 12% of Planned Parenthood's activities are related to abortion. Most of their work focuses on cancer detection, tests, venereal disease treatment, family planning and a guide to navigate Obamacare.
Planned Parenthood provides an important service to hundreds of thousands of Latinas, generally young ones. Hispanics women present the highest levels of reproductive cancers, unplanned births and sexually-transmitted diseases.
If the purpose of cutting these funds is to prevent taxpayer money from being used to pay for the abortions of the poor, that protection is already in place. Although it is not necessary to suspend the funding, the real intention is to destroy Planned Parenthood regardless of the consequences. Redistributing the funds to other clinics does not guarantee that they will provide the same services as Planned Parenthood.
This zeal against Planned Parenthood is an aggression directed at low-income women who currently depend on the organization to obtain basic health services.
Reversing on their past condemnation of the use of a budget procedure called "reconciliation," The Wall Street Journal praised Republicans for using the tactic in their latest attempt to repeal Obamacare. The Journal also bashed, the law falsely claiming the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has resulted in "huge" premium increases, and showed little concern for the millions of Americans who would lose healthcare if the law is repealed.
In a January 5 editorial, The Wall Street Journal praised Senate Republicans for narrowly passing legislation that would repeal the ACA via a parliamentary procedure called "reconciliation" -- a Senate budget tactic to avoid filibusters. After praising the GOP's repeal bill, which President Obama has vowed to veto, The Journal went on to attack the health care reform law, falsely claiming that the "law is failing on every level" and creating "huge" increases in health care premiums. From The Journal:
Republicans are now using the special "reconciliation" procedure that allows a budget bill to pass with a simple majority--which can only be used once a year--to get around Harry Reid's bone yard. Kvetchers on the right who say the Congress never does anything should be pleased, unless their griping was merely for political show.
This achievement is all the more notable for traveling through the regular channels of constitutional government, without Armageddon-style confrontations or blowing up century-old Senate rules, as some activists have demanded. The bill passed through patient, unglamorous legislative work, with House and Senate Republicans working together to make policy advances instead of degenerating into infighting and recriminations as usual.
This is what the GOP promised voters in 2014. Fifty-two of the 54 Senate Republicans voted for the bill, which passed 52-47 over unanimous Democratic opposition. Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois were the two GOP dissenters.
Reconciliation is the process where the U.S. Senate can vote on budget amendments with a simple majority of 51 votes, and a senator cannot object to force a 60-vote threshold to move forward as is the case with all other bills and amendments. The Journal referred to Republicans using this tactic to attempt to gut Obamacare as a so-called "achievement" that traveled "through the regular channels of constitutional government, without Armageddon-style confrontations." But The Journal failed to mention that in the past its editorial board held the opposite view on the use of reconciliation to make changes to health care. The Journal also did not explain that perhaps the reason no "Armageddon-style confrontations" occurred is because the bill will be vetoed by the president and Republicans could only muster 52 votes in support of repeal, far below the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. The bill is dead on arrival, as was the case the previous 60 times congressional Republicans passed symbolic repeal votes.
In 2010, when the bill that would become the Affordable Care Act was being considered, The Journal was loudly opposed to Senate Democrats using reconciliation to pass legislation that conservatives were derisively calling "Obamacare." The Journal called passing Obamacare via reconciliation "an abuse of the traditional Senate process" and claimed "we have entered a political wonderland." Journal editorial board member Daniel Henninger even wrote a column proclaiming "reconciliation could damage the institution of the Senate for years."
The Journal's January 5 editorial was not only a flip-flop on reconciliation, it was laden with inaccuracies about the law, some of which ignored The Wall Street Journal's own reporting. The one specific issue the paper wished to focus on as a so-called "failure" was the myth that premium increases have been unexpectedly "huge" since the law took effect and are set to spike in 2016. On the contrary, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman recently noted, premium costs and subsidies came in under expectations in 2014 and 2015. Typical health insurance premiums for 2016 are predicted to have a higher rate increase than the past two years, but The Journal failed to point out that much of this increase was not only expected, it will be covered by insurance subsidies.
After accounting for available subsidies, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the average national premium rate increase from 2015 to 2016 will be 3.6 percent. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is predicting slower-than-expected premium growth, and has revised its numbers to show federal spending on premiums will be 20 percent less than previously projected:
Furthermore, The Journal also failed to mention that insurance customers are free to choose new plans and providers every year, some of which may prove more cost effective than others. Charles Gaba of ACASignups.net pointed out that because individuals can change insurers, it is important to shop around and that those who do so may see smaller increases for 2016.
In yet another flip-flop, The Journal falsely claimed that no one ever "argued that a new entitlement couldn't reduce the uninsured rate." In fact, The Journal made such claims in an October 25, 2015 editorial hyping fears that supposedly low insurance enrollment for 2016 meant health care reform "won't survive." Such enrollment fears from The Journal were later debunked and research showed enrollment numbers had been adjusted because more Americans stayed on employer-provided insurance than originally anticipated.
In spite of its previous remarks against using reconciliation, its attempts to delegitimize enrollment numbers, and the fact that expected insurance premium costs have been revised downward, The Wall Street Journal still celebrated the latest, fruitless Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare, which if successful could strip health care coverage from at least 17 million Americans.