Carl Cameron falsely suggested that President Obama has proposed a health care system similar to those of England and Canada -- models Obama has explicitly rejected -- and uncritically aired a misleading portion of a Conservatives for Patients' Rights ad.
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On the April 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report, chief political correspondent Carl Cameron falsely suggested that President Obama has proposed a nationalized health care system similar to those of England and Canada, and uncritically relayed a portion of a Conservatives for Patients' Rights (CPR) ad that falsely suggests that the former head of the Canadian Medical Association said he favors the current American health care system over the Canadian system.
Referring to the debate over Obama's health care plan, Cameron stated: "The battle is already one of this year's most polarizing and partisan. Conservatives for Patients' Rights launched a new ad with British and Canadian doctors warning Americans about the perils of nationalized health care." Cameron did not note, however, that Obama has explicitly rejected adopting the British and Canadian models, nor did he mention that the public option supported by the White House is fundamentally different from the health care systems provided in Canada and the United Kingdom. According to the Health Care agenda detailed on the White House website, the administration has proposed to "[e]stablish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage" [emphasis added]. Indeed, when asked during a March 26 online town hall discussion, "Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs rather than financial resources," Obama replied that instead of adopting a "single-payer system" like England and Canada, "what I think we should do is to build on the system that we have and fill some of these gaps."
Cameron then uncritically aired a clip from the Conservatives for Patients' Rights ad in which former Canadian Medical Association director Brian Day stated that Canadian "[p]atients are languishing and suffering on waitlists. Our own Supreme Court of Canada has stated that patients are actually dying as they wait for care." Cameron did not mention that Day has said he is not in favor of the current American system of health care. Indeed, as the Politico's Ben Smith noted on April 27, in an October 9, 2008, interview with the Fraser Institute, Day stated: "I think this is what people tend to forget. They equate alternatives to the Canadian health care system with 'Americanization,' which is not what we're talking about. We're talking about countries like Belgium, and Switzerland, and France, and Austria." Day similarly wrote in an October 22, 2007, op-ed for Canada's National Post newspaper that "the goal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) -- of which I am President -- is to help improve our universal system, not destroy it." Day went on to note in the op-ed that he is not in favor of the American system:
Let me be clear: I am not for an American-style system in Canada.
It is true that I believe in competition. But not the type of unhealthy competition that seems to exist between Canada and the United States in health care. As two of the world's richest countries, we seem to be in a race to the bottom when it comes to health. Canada's health system has been ranked 30th by the World Health Organization, and the U.S. was ranked 37th. Why would anyone copy a system that ranks substantially below ours?
During the Special Report segment, Cameron also described the potential use of reconciliation to pass health care reform as "an unprecedented use of a controversial legislative fast-track gimmick" and labeled a statement by Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) defending the use of reconciliation as "political jargon for jamming it through with 51 instead of 60 votes." Cameron also said that "[o]utraged minority Republicans plan several parliamentary maneuvers intended to thwart Democrats, whom they imply are pursuing socialist policies with fascist totalitarianism worthy of Venezuela strongman Hugo Chavez," and quoted Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) saying: "I can understand shaking Hugo Chavez's hand, but I can't understand embracing his politics of basically shutting down the minority, which is essentially what this reconciliation initiative does." Introducing Cameron's report, host Bret Baier called reconciliation "an old trick" that Senate Democrats may use "in a new way." Cameron's and Baier's comments echoed recent Republican criticism of Democrats using the reconciliation process. Media Matters has documented a pattern of journalists repeating or uncritically quoting Republican criticism of the decision to use reconciliation as overly partisan, without noting that the members of Congress they are quoting -- including Gregg, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) -- voted to allow the use of the budget reconciliation process to pass legislation during the Bush administration.
From the April 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
BRET BAIER: President Obama is hoping his budget will fly through Congress. But when it comes to the president's health care agenda, Democratic leaders in the Senate may use an old trick in a new way to help make that vote go their way. Chief political correspondent Carl Cameron explains.
[begin video clip]
CAMERON: As majority Democrats hammer out differences between their House and Senate 2010 budget roadmaps, they plan to ensure that President Obama's $634 billion universal health care plan can pass the Senate with 51 instead of the 60 votes normally needed to end big debates. It is an unprecedented use of a controversial legislative fast-track gimmick called budget reconciliation.
SPRATT: Reconciliation, I would stress, does not preclude the committees of jurisdiction from moving legislation in these policy areas under traditional procedures, but they do serve -- but it does serve as a fallback to ensure that these policies and issues can move through the Congress if negotiations come to an impasse.
CAMERON: That's political jargon for jamming it through with 51 instead of 60 votes. Presidents in both parties have used the reconciliation ploy. President Bush used it to fast-track tax cuts, but never before has it been used to create whole new government programs, particularly a massive new mandatory health care entitlement.
Outraged minority Republicans plan several parliamentary maneuvers intended to thwart Democrats, whom they imply are pursuing socialist policies with fascist totalitarianism worthy of Venezuela strongman Hugo Chavez, whom the president recently met in South America.
GREGG: I can understand shaking Hugo Chavez's hand, but I can't understand embracing his politics of basically shutting down the minority, which is essentially what this reconciliation initiative does.
CAMERON: The battle is already one of this year's most polarizing and partisan. Conservatives for Patients' Rights launched a new ad with British and Canadian doctors warning Americans about the perils of nationalized health care.
DR. KAROL SIKORA (University of Buckingham medical school dean): They'll lose their own choice completely ... lose control of their own destiny within the medical system.
DAY: Patients are languishing and suffering on waitlists. Our own Supreme Court of Canada has stated that patients are actually dying as they wait for care.
[end video clip]
CAMERON: Democrats plan to pass their budget blueprint without a single Republican vote by Wednesday to mark the president's first 100 days. As for health care, they say they'd like a bill by June and to pass it by mid-October.
In Washington, Carl Cameron, Fox News.