Claiming Obama "lost control of the narrative," Liasson and Wallace advance health-care reform falsehoods

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

While discussing whether President Obama "lost control of the narrative of health care," NPR's Mara Liasson and Fox News' Chris Wallace advanced the falsehoods that health-care reform is estimated to cost $1 trillion over 10 years and would be funded by broad-based tax increases. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has found that the only complete bill to be given a cost estimate "would result in a net increase in the federal budget deficit of $239 billion over the 2010-2019 period"; moreover, its proposed tax increases would only apply to the wealthiest Americans.

From the August 2 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

LIASSON: I actually don't agree with that, although I do say NPR had a new poll this week where we also showed the president's approval rating at 53, and we have a minus-5 on health care, but very similar -- different numbers, but the same spread.

WALLACE: You were able to get the plug in for NPR.

LIASSON: Yes, I was able to get the plug in, as I know you would do if you were in my situation. However, I think what's happening is not just substance. In the NPR poll, when we actually tested the president's argument, health care did better. It flipped. When you asked people, from what you've heard about the president's plan, are you for or against it, they're against it. But the fact is, what have they been hearing? It has a $1 trillion price tag over 10 years, it's going to raise your taxes. I think --

WALLACE: Well, aren't those both true?

LIASSON: -- I think this is a result of the president's legislative strategy. He left this up to Congress, and Congress -- what have we seen from Congress? Very, very messy. Democrats divided. Plans that don't do what the president wanted them to do: bend the cost curve down, be deficit neutral. He has, I think, to a large extent, lost control of the narrative of health care, and that's one of the reasons his numbers are going down.

Suggestion the bill has a $1 trillion "price tag" is false

CBO found that the House tri-committee bill would increase the federal budget deficit by $239 billion over 10 years -- not $1 trillion. In its July 17 cost estimate of the bill as introduced, CBO explained that its "estimate reflects a projected 10-year cost of the bill's insurance coverage provisions of $1,042 billion, partly offset by net spending changes that CBO estimates would save $219 billion over the same period, and by revenue provisions that [the Joint Committee on Taxation] estimates would increase federal revenues by about $583 billion over those 10 years." CBO thus concluded the legislation "would result in a net increase in the federal budget deficit of $239 billion over the 2010-2019 period."

Wallace and Liasson join New York Times, CNBC's Bartiromo, Fox News' Rove in advancing false cost estimate. During the July 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, CNBC host Maria Bartiromo falsely asserted as fact that the health care reform proposal under consideration in Congress would cost a "trillion dollars over 10 years." Likewise, a July 28 New York Times article falsely reported that the House health care reform bill is "estimated at $1 trillion over 10 years." During the July 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox News political contributor Karl Rove claimed that House Democrats were "planning on a 1 trillion, 420 billion -- 420 million dollar price tag of additional spending over the next 10 years."

Suggestion that Obama will "raise taxes" on all Americans is false

Surtax in House bill applies only to income exceeding $350,000 per year for joint filers. The legislation would establish a 1 percent tax on joint income exceeding $350,000 but not greater than $500,000 per year; a 1.5 percent tax on joint income exceeding $500,000 but not greater than $1 million per year; and a 5.4 percent tax on joint income exceeding $1 million per year. Single filers would be subject to the surtax starting at income exceeding $280,000 per year.

"Only the highest earning 1.2 percent of American households will pay a surcharge for health care reform." In a July 15 Huffington Post piece, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) stated that, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, "[o]nly the highest earning 1.2 percent of American households will pay a surcharge."

Transcript

From the August 2 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: Well, Bill Kristol, the president understandably bragging about the economy because it has been a tough month for him. And take a look at some of these recent poll numbers. According to a Wall Street Journal survey, Mr. Obama's job approval has dropped from plus-34 in February to plus-13 now. And take a look at this. In June, when asked whether the Obama health care plan was a good or bad idea, the margin was plus-1. Now it's minus-6. So, Bill Kristol, what's going on?

KRISTOL: He's losing the debate on substance, honestly. It's not just that the Repub -- I mean, Senator DeMint is an impressive spokesman for the opposition to President Obama. Mike Pence as well. But it's not as if Republicans have glitzy ads out there or have come up with brilliant catchphrases. They're having a very big, substantive debate on health care, on the role of government, on debt and the deficit, and I think the Republicans are winning it. And it's damaging -- you know, President Obama's approval is going down for policy reasons, not for personal reasons.

WALLACE: Do you agree with that, Mara?

LIASSON: I actually don't agree with that, although I do say NPR had a new poll this week where we also showed the president's approval rating at 53, and we have a minus-5 on health care, but very similar -- different numbers, but the same spread.

WALLACE: You were able to get the plug in for NPR.

LIASSON: Yes, I was able to get the plug in, as I know you would do if you were in my situation. However, I think what's happening is not just substance. In the NPR poll, when we actually tested the president's argument, health care did better. It flipped. When you asked people, from what you've heard about the president's plan, are you for or against it, they're against it. But the fact is, what have they been hearing? It has a $1 trillion price tag over 10 years, it's going to raise your taxes. I think --

WALLACE: Well, aren't those both true?

LIASSON: -- I think this is a result of the president's legislative strategy. He left this up to Congress, and Congress -- what have we seen from Congress? Very, very messy. Democrats divided. Plans that don't do what the president wanted them to do: bend the cost curve down, be deficit neutral. He has, I think, to a large extent, lost control of the narrative of health care, and that's one of the reasons his numbers are going down.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
FOX Broadcasting Company
Person
Chris Wallace, Mara Liasson
Show/Publication
FOX News Sunday
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