A while back I wrote about healthcare reform noting:
No issue incurs the wrath of these modern-day Red hunters more than health-care reform. For more than 75 years, conservatives have smeared progressive attempts to reform our faltering health-care system as "socialized medicine."
Since the 1930s, conservatives have assailed at least 16 different progressive health-care reform initiatives as "socialized medicine" or as a step that would inevitably lead in that direction.
What exactly has constituted "socialized medicine" to conservatives over the past seven-plus decades?
How about Franklin Roosevelt's consideration of government health insurance when crafting the 1935 bill that created Social Security, or Lyndon Johnson's 1965 amendment to the Social Security Act establishing Medicare? Both raised the ire of conservatives, who were quick to run with the "socialized medicine" smear.
In fact, back in 1964, Ronald Reagan, then stumping for GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, said of Medicare, "Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients."
Like Roosevelt and Johnson decades before him, Bill Clinton's health-care initiative in 1993 and 1994 and his work to create the State Children's Health Insurance Program in 1997 were attacked time and again as "socialized medicine."
Pick a progressive president. Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton, and now Obama -- they've all faced the stale "socialized medicine" routine from the right.
So, what's the climate been like for President Obama?
CNBC's Larry Kudlow claimed that "ABC is going to give up all their programming" to President Obama "to help sell health care reform," but ABC says it will "giv[e] voice to questions and criticisms" of Obama's plan.
In reporting the CBO's conclusion that a Senate draft health-care bill would leave many uninsured, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, David Brooks, and USA Today did not note that the CBO did not assess several provisions that are expected to be added to the bill and that, according to the CBO director, "could ... have substantial effects on our analysis."
Wolf Blitzer did not challenge Rep. John Boehner's false claim that the "Congressional Budget Office came out with a score on Senator Kennedy's bill, just part of ... his bill that says that the public option would cost over a trillion dollars." In fact, the CBO's preliminary analysis of the draft bill did not assess the impact of a "public option" for health insurance.
From the June 17 edition of Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends:
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In reporting that CBO concluded that a Senate draft health care reform bill would leave many uninsured, neither The New York Times nor ABC's Jake Tapper noted that the CBO director stated in a letter accompanying the CBO report that the "figures do not represent a formal or complete cost estimate for the draft legislation."
Politico uncritically quoted Sen. Lamar Alexander stating, in reference to health care reform: "Washington takeover are two words we've been hearing a lot from the Obama Administration these days." But Obama has explicitly disavowed a "Washington takeover" of health care; it's GOP consultant Frank Luntz who's urged Republicans to use that phrase to attack Obama's plan.
In two articles since initially reporting that the AMA opposes "a public health insurance option," The New York Times has reported the AMA's "opposition" to a public plan without noting the AMA's subsequent backtrack from that position.
From the June 16 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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In a June 16 editorial, The Washington Times reversed the meaning of a comment President Obama made in his speech before the AMA, falsely claiming he "admitted" to the AMA that savings from health-care reform will be "coming off your backs."
From the June 16 edition of NPR's Morning Edition:
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Here's how Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly describes the AMA:
The AMA, with about 250,000 members, is the nation's largest physician group.
Connolly doesn't give readers any context for that number. She doesn't tell readers that 250,000 is less than a third of the 800,000 or so practicing doctors in America. Or that the AMA membership figures include medical students and retired doctors, who account for about half of AMA's members. Connolly doesn't tell readers that the AMA gets at least 20 percent of its budget from drug companies. Nor does she tell readers the AMA has long opposed meaningful health care reform, and even opposed the creation of Medicare.
Instead of giving readers useful context about the AMA, Connolly quoted a doctor taking a political shot at President Obama:
But immediate reaction to Obama's speech Monday illustrated that it will not be easy to neutralize some of the powerful forces that helped defeat previous attempts at health-care reform.
"He's a wonderful speaker, and he told us what we want to hear," said Norman Dunitz, a Tulsa hip and knee surgeon. "The question isn't what he said but what he's going to do. He has a reputation of shifting sides."
Look at that quote closely: Connelly doesn't quote Dunitz saying anything about health care. It's just a political attack on Barack Obama. Norman Dunitz, by the way, has made campaign contributions to far-right Republican Senators Jim Inhofe, Tom Coburn, and John Barrasso, which may explain why he attacked Obama personally instead of saying anything meaningful about health care.
The Wall Street Journal continues its assault on health care reform, warning of "total government control of the health markets." Along the way, the Journal editorial hits the standard conservative media talking points on malpractice "reform."
The Wall Street Journal claims "trial lawyers and their stratospheric jury awards and settlements have led to major increases in the medical malpractice premiums, thus driving up the overall cost of U.S. health care."
But, as Media Matters has previously noted, the claim that lawsuits have driven up malpractice premiums and thus health care costs is overblown:
Malpractice premiums: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has documented the minimal impact that increases in medical malpractice insurance premiums have on overall health care costs. A 2004 CBO report concluded that capping awards at $250,000 for non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits "would basically save only 0.4 percent of the amount that's spent now" on health care. According to the report: "[M]alpractice costs amounted to an estimated $24 billion in 2002, but that figure represents less than 2 percent of overall health care spending. Thus, even a reduction of 25 percent to 30 percent in malpractice costs would lower health care costs by only about 0.4 percent to 0.5 percent, and the likely effect on health insurance premiums would be comparably small."
The Journal then claims that as a result of lawsuits, doctors "practice defensive medicine, ordering unnecessary tests to immunize themselves if they do end up in court. Economists disagree on the precise burden of this legal fear, but some argue that it exceeds $100 billion a year."
Again, Media Matters has noted that these concerns are overblown:
Defensive medicine: As FactCheck.org has noted, claims that "defensive medicine" drives up medical costs -- a principal Bush administration argument for tort reform -- have been dismissed as inconclusive by the General Accounting Office and the CBO. The CBO went further, declaring that there is "no evidence that restrictions on tort liability reduce medical spending."
Morning Joe just hosted Pete Peterson, giving him an opportunity to plug his book and spread his doom and gloom about "entitlement reform." As usual, the reporters present treated Peterson as though he is a Yoda, the Dalai Lama, and their grandfather all in one.
Nobody, for example, asked Peterson about his opposition to health care reform in the early 1990s ("The issue is whether we can afford it. We can't.") Since then, health care costs have skyrocketed, taking Medicare costs with them. So the failure of health care reform in 1993/1994 not only resulted in tens of millions of Americans going without health care for the past 15 years, it also contributed to the soaring Medicare spending that Pete Peterson insists is a crisis.
All of which suggests a second question somebody should probably ask Peterson: Why should we listen to you?