Tom Brokaw did not challenge Sen. John McCain's false claim that under Sen. Barack Obama's health care plan, "[S]mall-business people who have employees without health insurance, that he is going to fine them if they don't have, have the insurance policy that they want, that Senator Obama wants them to have." In fact, while Obama has proposed requiring large businesses that do not provide health coverage to pay a percentage of their payroll into a National Health Insurance Exchange, small businesses would be exempt.
During the October 26 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, host Tom Brokaw did not challenge Sen. John McCain's false claim that under Sen. Barack Obama's health care plan, "[S]mall-business people who have employees without health insurance, that he is going to fine them if they don't have, have the insurance policy that they want, that Senator Obama wants them to have." In fact, while Obama has proposed requiring large businesses that do not provide employer-sponsored health coverage to pay a percentage of their payroll into a National Health Insurance Exchange to help Americans purchase private health insurance, small businesses would be exempt. Obama also has proposed a refundable Small Business Health Tax Credit for small businesses that do provide employer-sponsored health care.
Indeed, during the October 15 presidential debate, after McCain stated, "Now, Senator Obama, I'd like -- still like to know what that fine is going to be," Obama responded, "Zero, because as I said in our last debate and I'll repeat, John, I exempt small businesses from the requirement for large businesses that can afford to provide health care to their employees, but are not doing it." Obama continued:
I exempt small businesses from having to pay into a kitty. But large businesses that can afford it, we've got a choice. Either they provide health insurance to their employees or somebody has to.
Right now, what happens is those employees get dumped into either the Medicaid system, which taxpayers pick up, or they're going to the emergency room for uncompensated care, which everybody picks up in their premiums.
The average family is paying an additional $900 a year in higher premiums because of the uninsured.
So here's what we do. We exempt small businesses. In fact, what, Joe, if you want to do the right thing with your employees and you want to provide them health insurance, we'll give you a 50-percent credit so that you will actually be able to afford it.
If you don't have health insurance or you want to buy into a group plan, you will be able to buy into the plan that I just described.
In addition, while discussing his relationship with President Bush, McCain claimed that "I've stood up against my party, not just President Bush, but others, and I've the scars to prove it, including taking up with [Sen.] Ted Kennedy [D-MA] immigration reform knowing full well that that was going to hurt my chances in the primaries." But Brokaw did not point out that during the Republican primaries, at the January 30 Republican presidential debate, McCain said that he would no longer support the comprehensive reform bill he co-sponsored with Kennedy if it came up for a vote in the Senate.
From the October 26 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
BROKAW: Senator, in the last of the presidential debates, moderated by Bob Schieffer, you drew greater distinction between yourself and George Bush. You said, "I am not George Bush." And then this past week in The Washington Times, a newspaper in Washington, this was the account: "Senator John McCain blasted President Bush for building a mountain of debt for future generations, failing to pay for expanding Medicare, and abusing executive powers, leveling his strongest criticism to date of the administration, whose unpopularity may be dragging the Republican Party to the brink of a massive electoral defeat. 'We just let things get completely out of hand,' he said of his own party's rule in the last eight years."
But then we have an account of you on Meet the Press, going back to June 2005. And this is what you had to say about your relationship with Present Bush at that time.
[begin video clip]
McCAIN: The fact is that I'm different, but the fact is that I've agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I have been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.
So I strongly disagree with any assertion that I've been more at odds with the president of the United States than I have been in agreement with.
McCAIN: Well, I'm very honored and humbled to have the opportunity to receive the endorsement of the president of the United States, a man who I have great admiration, respect, and affection.
McCAIN: I intend to have, as much possible, campaigning events and together, as is in keeping with the president's heavy schedule. And I look forward to that opportunity.
[end video clip]
BROKAW: Senator McCain, both in tone and language, you are very close to President Bush in those appearances. The Congressional Quarterly did a review of your votes: 92 percent of the time, you voted with President Bush. So it's a little hard for the public to separate you from this administration, isn't it?
McCAIN: Well, it may be the way you describe it. And by the way, the last interview that I did with The Washington Times -- of course, I've been repeating for last eight years that the spending was out of control. That's why I voted against these projects, these pork-barrel spending. I was the harshest critic of the failed strategy in Iraq and pointed it out at hearing after hearing and fought against it. I've supported action to address climate change from -- since 2000 and said we've got to do something about it. There were sharp disagreements there.
There were a number of disagreements on general overall philosophy. I am a Republican. I respect the president of the United States. Of course we let spending get completely out of control, and I've been talking about it for a long, long period of time.
Now, I know how it is on this show. You show various segments and comments that we make thousands of, and I understand that. But the fact is, I am not George Bush. The fact is that I was not popular within my own party. The fact is that when I said that we were failing in Iraq and we were going to lose, I was criticized by Republicans. The fact is, when I did campaign finance reform with [Sen.] Russ Feingold [D-WI], I was opposed by my own party and my own president.
So do we share a common philosophy of the Republican Party? Of course. But I've stood up against my party, not just President Bush, but others, and I've the scars to prove it, including taking up with Ted Kennedy immigration reform knowing full well that that was going to hurt my chances in the primaries.
So I could go down a long list of issues with you. Do I respect President Bush? Of course I respect him, but I pointed out we were on the wrong track in a whole lot of ways, including a $10 trillion deficit, including saying we've got to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and proposed legislation to try to fix it before that triggered the housing collapse, including today, when I'm saying they should be going out and buying up these mortgages and giving people mortgages that they can afford rather than bailing out the banks.
BROKAW: We're going to get to that very issue in a moment. One of the things that you've been saying in the course of your campaign is that Senator Obama has neither the experience nor the judgment to be the president of the United States. We've got some polls on how he's doing with the American voter on some of the critical issues of the day.
This is the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that was taken from October 17 to October 20. On health care, who is better equipped to deal with that? Obama has a 39-point advantage over you in that poll. As you can see, the economy it's up 21 points; the housing crisis, a 21-point advantage; taxes, 14. In Iraq, you have an advantage over Senator Obama of about five points. These are not pundits.
McCAIN: We've now finally found the pony.
BROKAW: These are not the pundits or the media elites. This is a broad-based poll across the country.
McCAIN: That I don't agree with.
BROKAW: People making judgments about who's qualified to be --
McCAIN: But I don't agree with their conclusion that I'm, quote, 11 or 12 or 14 point -- whatever it is. We have polls, including, I think, a Zogby poll showing us three or four points behind. So if you want to continue to referring to a poll that I disagree with, I have to start out our conversation -- I don't agree with that. We are closing, and we have been closing.
BROKAW: But it's not the only poll, Senator. A number of polls show that.
McCAIN: Oh, yeah. And it's not the only poll that shows us close. So, you know, I'm sure we don't want to spend the morning arguing about polls that are accurate or inaccurate.
But I will stand before the American people with my view that I think that we don't -- we cannot fine small-business people and their -- or their employee -- small-business people who have employees without health insurance, that he's going to fine them if they don't have the insurance policy that they want -- that Senator Obama wants them to have, that if they have children that don't have health insurance that Senator Obama wants them to have, they will be fined, that he wants to spend an additional trillion dollars. I'll stand on those issues. I'll stand on them, and I'll take the verdict of the American people. And I guarantee you that two weeks from now, you will see this has been a very close race. And I believe that I'm going to win it.
BROKAW: All right. I don't want to dwell on these polls unduly, but even you had a big --
McCAIN: Here we go again.