Hmmm…Does the President Support the Public Option?

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During President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress last night, delivered over the din of Republican obstruction, he spent 7 paragraphs speaking about the need for a public health insurance option, and included one in the White House’s reform plan.  What did the Associated Press take away from all of this?

Analysis: Obama willing to deep-six public option

This analysis seems to spring from these two sentences:

For example — for example, some have suggested that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others have proposed a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring.

So, two sentences placating the GOP’s and Blue Dogs’ macaroni art constitutes a repudiation of the public option?

Read the rest at Mediaite

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Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Pubic Option

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The current sticking point on health insurance reform is the public health insurance option, with a majority of congressional Democrats favoring it, a handful of Blue Dogs wetting themselves over it, and the Republicans hallucinating about it.  What’s being left out of the equation in Washington is how the American people feel about it.

Polling on this issue has been misleading.  After a June poll showed 76% support for a public health insurance option, pollsters simply stopped asking that question.  Instead, they’d ask overly broad questions about the overall reform effort, and the headlines were all about “slipping support.” Nowhere was it considered that the “slipping support” might have had something to do with the regular reports of the death of the public option.

When they finally did ask again, 79% of Americans said they favor a public option.

What hasn’t really changed, and what everyone acknowledges, is that almost everyone opposes the pubic option.  That’s the one where the insurance companies have you by the short ones, able to refuse you coverage for a pre-existing condition, deny your services with their own death panels, retroactively terminate you if you get sick and made a mistake on your application, and pretty much just build their profits into whatever coverage you get, because your life depends on it.

The problem is, the public option is the only real solution to the pubic option.  There’s no way to pass regulations strong enough to ensure that you don’t end up with cheap, junk insurance that’s already putting people in the poor house (Try to remember the last time your auto insurance paid for anything).  The public option will serve as that safety net, and despite even more recent rumblings that it’s been left for dead, the President can, must, and will make sure it passes.

Postlet #5: Something Besides Public Option Declared Dead

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Every few weeks, it seems, the media is reporting the death of the public health insurance option, so I was happy to see them move on to a new target, the Gang of Six and the idea of a bipartisan reform bill.  What’s really cute is watching seasoned pros buy into the idea that the White House, in a Popeye-esque brogue, is going “That’s alls I can stands, I can’t stands no more!”

The public option was never not going to be allowed to pass.  The fact that the Republicans are giving the White House cover now is just an awesome bonus.

Postlet #4: Longer Lives are Less Than Worthless

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Damn, do I ever get tired of double-talk on health care.  First, Section 1233 was, if not the gateway to Death Panels, then it was a cold, worrisome treatment of mortality vs. cost.  Now, when it comes to the idea of extending life through preventive medicine, that’s a bad idea because longer lives cost money:

As it turns out, there may be very little savings at all from preventive care:

Using data from long-standing clinical trials, researchers projected the cost of caring for people with Type 2 diabetes as they progress from diagnosis to various complications and death. Enrolling federally-insured patients in a simple but aggressive program to control the disease would cost the government $1,024 per person per year — money that largely would be recovered after 25 years through lower spending on dialysis, kidney transplants, amputations and other forms of treatment, the study found.

However, except for the youngest diabetics, the additional services

This is all pushback against a study that says CBO isn’t factoring in savings from preventive care.  But even if you accept the idea that longer lives mean more health care, does that mean that those longer lives will necessarily be unproductive?  And even if you accept that, isn’t rejecting preventive care something akin to a Death Panel?  In other words, won’t these people just say any fucking thing at this point?  And won’t the media, except for Jake Tapper and me, just “he said/she said” the whole deal?

Postlet #3: Tapper Doesn’t Takes Exception, I DO

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Update:  Jake doesn’t take exception.  I do.  I think the President should literally say “Let me be absolutely clear: The media, with the exception of Jake Tapper and Tommy Christopher, have done a lousy job of blah blah blah…”

Jake Tapper posts today about the President and his political arm, Organizing for America, taking shots at the media for not smacking down health care lies, with this pointed addendum:

For the record, HERE’s the first report we did on the erroneous claims about death panels.

I know how you feel, Jake, but in fairness to the President, not every member of the media is as awesome as me:

In the past few days, the Washington Post’s Charles Lane, then Eugene Robinson, and now The Daily Beast’s Lee Siegel have all given Palin’s death panels the “she’s crazy, but there’s a germ of a point here” treatment.

This cowardice in the face of clarity allows these lies to muddy the waters even as they are uprooted.

Americans Get President’s Message, Democrats Not So Much

briefing1At today’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cited an NBC poll that shows that shows that only 45% of Americans currently believe in “Death Panels.” He cited this as evidence that the President has been effective in debunking myths about health care reform.

I would argue that 45% is an awfully large number to believe in a health care Sasquatch, but even granting that, the President’s effectiveness at combating myths is cold comfort if the Democrats in congress don’t get the message.  I asked Gibbs what happens to the next health care provision to become the subject of an urban legend:

TC:  On health care, you were talking about Chuck’s poll earlier, that — I mean, the good news that most Americans no longer believe in death panels. But the fact remains that Section 1233 was taken out of the House bill. So what can you do to reassure voters that the same fate won’t befall other provisions of the bill if some rumor like the death panels gets started about the public option?

MR. GIBBS: I don’t — I’m not following the thesis of your — the section that’s been pulled out.

TC:Section 1233 about the end-of-life care.

MR. GIBBS: It’s been?

TC: There was a report earlier this week that it’s been dropped.

MR. GIBBS: Well —

TC: Is that not true?

MR. GIBBS: This is in a Senate Finance Committee bill that nobody has seen? Look, what I’m saying is, I think the President is going out there and explaining what those provisions are and what they’re not — regardless of whether they’re in what section of what bill at what time, I think it’s something that the President has been focused on doing and correcting the record. I think it has more to do with a sustained dialogue in dealing with the misrepresentations as it has whether or not a provision may or may not have been dropped.

While I’m happy to credit the President with quelling some of the “death panel” nonsense, I would be more comforted if he could lend some of his, shall we say, fortitude to his panicky congressional standard-bearers.

Did Major Garrett Break the White House Email?

Is the White House overreacting to an overreaction?

Last Thursday, you may recall, Fox News’ Major Garrett got into it with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs over Garrett’s questioning of White House email procedures.  He asked Gibbs a question that there was only one way to answer, then attacked him for trying to answer it.  On the air later, Garrett admitted there was a problem with his question.

That didn’t stop Fox News from hounding the White House all weekend.  At issue were what Garrett described as “hundreds” of Fox viewers who claimed to have gotten unsolicited emails from the White House.  When Gibbs offered to check those people’s names against a list to determine the answer, Garrett acted as though the White House was trying to steal their souls.

Since then, Fox News has posted several breathless updates to the story, including a statement, yesterday, from the White House.  As I caught up on this story, I realized that I hadn’t gotten any emails from the White House since 5:25 pm yesterday.

Is it possible that the White House has frozen outgoing emails while it investigates this story?  I emailed them to find out, but I haven’t heard back!
Fox has apparently sent some examples to Gibbs to check out, after getting permission from the emailers.  If they’re anything like this guy that Garrett interviewed, it should be apparent what’s going on here:

Benjamin, who also described himself as a Republican, said he received the Axelrod health care e-mail as a pop-up ad while he was reading a blog. He said the pop-up must have been approved by his internet service provider, AOL.

“The White House wants to put out a message so they have a conduit to put the message out to people who haven’t contacted them in any way,” Benjamin said. “Therefore, they’re using AOL the same way that a spammer would be. I’m not particularly interested in hearing from David Axelrod.

So, Major Garrett is getting complaints from dialup users who still haven’t figured out that the CD-ROM drive isn’t a cupholder, and stoking the paranoia of NObama Nation in the bargain.