CNN's Bash uncritically aired McCain's false attacks on Democrats on taxes and health care

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

CNN's Dana Bash uncritically aired a video clip from Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) making a comparison between "the Democrats who want to raise your taxes, or me, I want to lower your taxes. Whether it will be a health care system run by the federal government, or whether families in America will make their choices about health care." In fact, neither Sen. Hillary Clinton nor Sen. Barack Obama has proposed "a health care system run by the federal government," and both have proposed tax cuts for the poor and the middle class.

On the February 13 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, congressional correspondent Dana Bash uncritically aired a video clip from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) making a comparison between "the Democrats who want to raise your taxes, or me, I want to lower your taxes. Whether it will be a health care system run by the federal government, or whether families in America will make their choices about health care." In fact, McCain's claims about the Democrats' plans on taxes and health care are both false. Neither Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) nor Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) has proposed "a health care system run by the federal government," and both have called for "choice[]" in health care. Additionally, both Clinton and Obama have proposed tax cuts for the poor and the middle class.

After airing McCain's false attacks, Bash said "In efforts to convince GOP lawmakers maverick McCain is a team player, CNN is told behind closed doors a supporter read data on how much he's campaigned for House candidates." CNN personalities have repeatedly referred to McCain as a "maverick."

Health care

Bash aired McCain's false suggestion that the Democrats' plans call for "a health care system run by the federal government rather than allowing "families ... [to] make their choices about health care." In fact, Obama's health care plan does not mandate that the government take over health care; rather his plan allows individuals to keep their private health insurance if they so choose, while he says it also "addresses the large gaps in coverage that leave 47 million Americans uninsured." A Q&A released by the Obama campaign says: "His plan will not tell you which doctors to see or what treatments to get. Under the Obama health care plan, you will be able to keep your doctor and your health insurance if you want. No government bureaucrat will second-guess decisions about your care."

A Clinton campaign summary of her health care program says: "In addition to the broad array of private options that Americans can choose from, they will be offered the choice of a public plan option similar to Medicare." The Washington Post's Fact Checker blog noted on October 24, 2007, "the Clinton plan does not force Americans to accept 'government insurance.' It offers people a choice. If they are happy with their present health plan, they can keep it. Otherwise, they can switch to the plans offered to members of Congress, or a government-run plan similar to Medicare."

Moreover, on the December 6, 2007, broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner noted: "None of the leading Democratic candidates, however, has proposed anything like a single-payer system, much less a fully government-run program like Britain's National Health Service."

Taxes

Clinton's website says that she would "[l]ower taxes for middle class families by: extending the middle class tax cuts including child tax credit and marriage penalty relief, offering new tax cuts for healthcare, college and retirement, and expanding the EITC [earned income tax credit] and the child care tax credit." Obama's website states that he "will create a new 'Making Work Pay' tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family." CNN reported on September 18, 2007: "Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed overhauling the tax code to lower taxes for the poor and middle class, increase them for the rich and make it so most Americans can file their taxes in five minutes. The tax relief plan he envisions for the middle class alone would mean $80 billion or more in tax cuts, he said."

Bash's report aired a second time on that day's The Situation Room, as well as the February 13 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight.

From the February 13 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BASH: A show of support from formerly skeptical House GOP leaders on the heels of a Potomac primary sweep. And John McCain's patience for [Republican presidential candidate] Mike Huckabee is wearing thin.

McCAIN: Of course I'd like for him to withdraw today. I mean, it would be much easier. But I respect and have repeatedly said I respect his right to continue in this race.

BASH: But McCain has moved on, test-driving his general election message.

McCAIN: -- the Democrats who want to raise your taxes, or me, I want to lower your taxes. Whether it will be a health care system run by the federal government, or whether families in America will make their choices about health care.

BASH: In efforts to convince GOP lawmakers maverick McCain is a team player, CNN is told behind closed doors, a supporter read data on how much he's campaigned for House candidates.

Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Dana Bash, Lou Dobbs
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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