The New York Times cropped a quote from President Obama's Labor Day speech to suggest that Obama responded to health care reform critics who "say we're going to pull the plug on Grandma" by conceding that policies he supports would allow for such actions to occur. In fact, in his Labor Day speech, Obama explicitly referred to claims that health care reform is "going to pull the plug on Grandma" as "lies."
NYT suggests Obama stated health care alternatives are "pull the plug on Grandma" or "do nothing"
From the September 8 New York Times article:
Mr. Obama's Labor Day meeting with his advisers followed his return from an A.F.L.-C.I.O. picnic in Cincinnati, where he gave a rousing campaign-style pitch for his health care initiative that previewed some themes for Wednesday night. The president told thousands of cheering unionized workers that Congress should stop debating, because "it's time to act and get this done."
"I've got a question for all those folks who say we're going to pull the plug on Grandma," the president thundered. "What's your answer? What's your solution? And you know what? They don't have one. Their answer is to do nothing."
As previously reported, Mr. Baucus is not calling for a government-run insurance plan, or "public option," to compete against private insurers. Instead, his committee's group of negotiators has coalesced around the idea of forming nonprofit, member-owned insurance cooperatives in the states. [The New York Times, 9/8/09]
Times omitted that Obama rejected "pull the plug on Grandma" claims as "lies"
From Obama's September 7 speech:
OBAMA: We have never been this close. We've never had such broad agreement on what needs to be done. And because we're so close to real reform, suddenly the special interests are doing what they always do, which is just try to scare the heck out of people.
But I've got -- I've got a question for all these folks who say, you know, we're going to pull the plug on Grandma and this is all about illegal immigrants -- you've heard all the lies. I've got a question for all those folks: What are you going to do? (Applause.) What's your answer? (Applause.) What's your solution? (Applause.) And you know what? They don't have one. (Applause.) Their answer is to do nothing. Their answer is to do nothing. And we know what that future looks like: insurance companies raking in the profits while discriminating against people because of pre-existing conditions; denying or dropping coverage when you get sick. It means you're never negotiating about higher wages, because all you're spending your time doing is just trying to protect the benefits that you already fought for. [Obama's remarks to AFL-CIO picnic, 9/7/09]
Times previously debunked "pull the plug" smear
Times reported that the "pull the plug on Grandma" assertion "has no basis in any of the provisions of the legislative proposals." In an August 12 article, the Times reported that Obama "took issue with critics who he said had distorted the debate to stoke fears that health changes will include 'death panels that will basically pull the plug on Grandma.' That charge, which has been widely disseminated, has no basis in any of the provisions of the legislative proposals under consideration in Congress; it appears to be based on a provision that would require Medicare to pay for doctors to counsel patients on end-of-life care." [The New York Times, 8/11/09]