The New York Times' write-up of its new poll paints a dire picture for health care reform:
Poll Shows Obama's Clout on Health Care Is Eroding
By ADAM NAGOURNEY and MEGAN THEE-BRENAN
President Obama's ability to shape the debate on health care appears to be eroding as opponents aggressively portray the effort as a government takeover that could limit Americans' ability to chose their doctors and course of treatment, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Americans are concerned that overhauling the health care system would reduce the quality of their care, increase their out-of-pocket health costs and tax bills and limit their options in choosing doctors, treatments and tests, the poll found. The percentage who describe health care costs as a serious threat to the American economy - a central argument made by Mr. Obama - has dropped over the past month.
Uh-oh! Sounds bad, doesn't it? But look how easy it is to write that article differently, based on the same poll (PDF link):
Poll Shows Strong Support for Reform; Obama More Trusted Than GOP
By BIZARRO ADAM NAGOURNEY AND BIZARRO MEGAN THEE-BRENAN
President Obama continues to enjoy significant advantage over his Republican counterparts when it comes to who the public trusts to reform health care, and the American people continue to overwhelmingly favor sweeping reform, even in the face of efforts by opponents to negatively define Mr. Obama's proposals, according to the latest New York Times/CBS poll.
The poll found that fully 90 percent of Americans think it is necessary to make "fundamental changes" or "completely rebuild" the health care system. President Obama enjoys a 29-point advantage over congressional Republicans on the question of who has better ideas to reform the system. The percentage of people who think the health care system needs to be fixed now as part of fixing the overall economy has increased in recent weeks, and the percentage who think the US cannot afford to fix health care now has decreased.
Seventy-six percent of Americans consider the rising cost of health care a threat to the nation's economy. Sixty-six percent support the "government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan - something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get - that would compete with private health insurance plans?" Sixty-five percent support tax increases on "Americans with high incomes" in order to pay for reform.
Eighty percent of Americans are concerned that if the government does not create a system for providing health care for all Americans, the number of uninsured people will increase. Sixty-six percent are concerned that absent such reform, they personally might be without coverage at some point. Seventy-five percent worry that absent such reform, the cost of their own health care will go up.
Keep that in mind when you see cable news freak out over the Times article tomorrow: The very same poll contains a ton of data that should be encouraging for those who favor significant reform.
UPDATE: Also worth noting: Much of the public skepticism the real New York Times article detailed is based on misconceptions -- like the concern that reform would "limit ... options in choosing doctors." Well, it wouldn't. So who cares if people think it might? If such reform is enacted, they'll pretty quickly see that they can still go to their doctor, and that concern will dissipate.
In a July 28 Washington Post op-ed, Harvard University economics professor Martin Feldstein advanced several falsehoods, including his claim that President Obama's health care reform plan provides "no protection if [Americans] lose their current insurance because of unemployment"; his suggestion that a 5.4 percent surtax would be added to everyone in the 35 percent marginal tax bracket; and his claim that Obama supports a British-style health care system in which "the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are salaried."
During a Hardball discussion about a provision in the House health care reform bill that provides coverage for end-of-life counseling as a service through Medicare, host Chris Matthews purported to correct Washington Post reporter Lois Romano's explanation of the provision, claiming: "We already have that in Medicare." In fact, Romano was correct; the bill would require Medicare to cover the cost of such counseling for the first time.
Fox Nation's front-page headline "Why Don't Dems Want Americans to See This Chart?" parrots House Minority Leader John Boehner's floor remarks -- a video of which Fox Nation provides -- during which he said, "Democrats in Congress don't want the American people to see this chart."
A Washington Post article about President Obama's AARP forum on health care promoted the falsehood that a provision in the House Democrats' health care reform bill makes end-of-life counseling for seniors mandatory -- it does not. Ceci Connolly wrote that "[o]ne woman asked Obama about 'rumors' that under the proposed legislation, every American over age 65 would be visited by a government worker and 'told to decide how they wish to die,' " but Connolly did not report that the "rumors" -- which have been promoted by conservatives -- are not true.
From the July 29th edition of Talk Radio Networks' Laura Ingraham Show:
Loading the player reg...
New York Times reporters Robert Pear and David M. Herszenhorn falsely claimed in a July 28 article that the House health care reform bill is "estimated at $1 trillion over 10 years." In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has found that the House tri-committee bill "would result in a net increase in the federal budget deficit of $239 billion over the 2010-2019 period," not $1 trillion.
Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by Martin Feldstein that falsely claimed that President Obama supports a British-style health care system in which "the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are salaried."
It was a glaring and obvious falsehood based on Feldstein's incorrect definition of the phrase "single-payer." The kind of thing that is so obviously false, it shouldn't have taken the Post more than 30 seconds to write up a correction once the mistake was pointed out. And the mistake was explained by The New Republic's Jonathan Chait by mid-day yesterday, and by Paul Krugman later in the day. But the Washington Post has not yet run a correction, online or in print.
In case the Post hasn't noticed, the health care debate is kind of a big deal right now. Correcting this obvious falsehood as soon as possible is the only responsible thing to do.
On Fox News' Special Report, Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York falsely claimed that a provision in a House health reform bill "says that there will be consultation between a caregiver and a patient to discuss things like hospice care and other issues -- other end-of-life issues," which he claimed raised the question of "whether there's any coercive element to this." But the provision York cited is not mandatory.
From the July 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
After repeatedly falsely asserting that House Democrats' health care reform bill makes end-of-life counseling for seniors "mandatory," Betsy McCaughey was forced to backtrack from her claim -- a claim PolitiFact.com called "a ridiculous falsehood." Confronted with accusations that she lied about the bill, she claimed, as she had done with a prior falsehood about another bill, that she was right about the effect (if not the literal wording) of the legislation.
From the July 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
Loading the player reg...
Jonathan Chait points out that today's Washington Post includes an op-ed in which Martin Feldstein claims President "Obama has said that he would favor a British-style 'single payer' system in which the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are salaried but that he recognizes that such a shift would be too disruptive to the health-care industry."
That, as Chait and Paul Krugman note, is altogether untrue. False. Wrong.
Obama has never said that he favors a British-style health care system. Britain does not have a single-payer system. It has a socialized system, where the government directly employs all health care providers. Indeed, if you follow the link in Feldstein's own column, it says, "A single-payer system would eliminate private insurance companies and put a Medicare-like system into place where the government pays all health-care bills with tax dollars." Does Medicare own hospitals and pay doctors government salaries? No. Professor Feldstein, please stop writing about topics you know nothing about.
Single-payer, as anyone who has paid the least bit of attention to the health care debate knows, means a system like Medicare, in which the government pays the bills. It absolutely does not mean a British-style system — and Obama definitely didn't advocate anything of the sort....[I[f I misstated the facts like this in the Times, I'd be required to publish a correction. Will the Post require that Feldstein retract his claim?
From the July 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
Loading the player reg...
Take a look at the way Politico describes a public health care option:
Reid today was vague on whether he supported the public option, the most controversial and expensive aspect of President Barack Obama's health care push. Opponents of the public option have suggested that a compromise take place that would remove the public plan from the package.
Politico never got around to indicating what supporters of the public option think, which is a pretty glaring lack of balance.
But that isn't the only problem with this paragraph. Politico describes a public option as "the most controversial and expensive aspect" of health care reform. Well, gee, that sounds awful. Why would anyone support it?
Think about how differently that paragraph would read if Politico focused on the effects of a strong public plan rather than the costs. On the positives, rather than the negatives. Or if Politico at least included both.
This is typical of the way the media covers health care (remember the presidential primary debates, when the Democrats kept getting grilled about how much health care reform would cost rather than about what it would do?) And that anti-reform framing is a big part of the reason for the situation we're in.