Political Mythbusters: There Never Was A White House Deal To Kill The Public Option, Stop Lying!
There have been many lies circulated about President Obama over the last 3 years, but the one that seems to have poisoned the water from the beginning is the lie that President Obama struck a deal to keep the public option out of the final health care bill. It has formed the basis of the “caved” meme that people on the left, most of whom never supported Obama as a candidate, have used to feed their irrational hatred for our president.
The lie has taken on epic proportions as it’s morphed over the years. Recently, I’ve had liberal friends throw it in my face when I’ve shown my support for our very accomplished president. The lying has to stop!
The birth of the “public option” lie
The original source from which the lie was created, is an article that David Kirkpatrick wrote in the New York Times about the active role that President Obama was taking in crafting the health care law. There were two mentions of the “public option” in the entire article, one was in reference to what the Democrats in the house were pushing and the other contradicts the lie completely. Rep. Henry Waxman was quoted in the article.
“The president has said he wants a public option to keep everybody honest. He hasn’t said he wants a co-op as a public option.”
You really can’t get any more clear than that, can you? In the article that is the source for the public option lie, there is a quote from a respected member of the House saying that the president wants a public option. And to be fair to the author, he never even implies that the public option was part of the deal.
The New York Times article also discusses how the White House was more hands-on with the Senate Finance Committee than with other congressional committees. What is implicit in this analysis is that the White House understood that, as with every piece of legislation the administration supported, it was the Senate that posed the biggest impediment to achieving comprehensive health care reform.
There was another quote from earlier in the article that many used as the basis for the lie. It is an explanation of the deal that caps the costs for hospitals.
Hospital industry lobbyists, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of alienating the White House, say they negotiated their $155 billion in concessions with Mr. Baucus and the administration in tandem. House staff members were present, including for at least one White House meeting, but their role was peripheral, the lobbyists said.
Several hospital lobbyists involved in the White House deals said it was understood as a condition of their support that the final legislation would not include a government-run health plan paying Medicare rates — generally 80 percent of private sector rates — or controlled by the secretary of health and human services.
There is nothing in those two paragraphs that says anything about a deal on the public option, it is talking very specifically about costs to hospitals and reimbursement rates for patients on Medicare. The sentence “would not include a government-run health plan paying Medicare rates — generally 80 percent of private rates…” is poorly worded and could easily be misinterpreted, especially by people searching for a reason to hate the President.
If you read David Kirkpatrick’s words carefully, you see that the deal was on reimbursement rates and how they wouldn’t be the 80% that Medicare generally pays, which was a sore spot for hospitals.
Here is another example of that same idea, worded slightly better, but with selective placement of quotation marks. Tom Daschle wasn’t happy with the authors characterization of his words and corrected it in an update.
Daschle writes. “The other was that it would contain no public health plan,” which would have reimbursed hospitals at a lower rate than private insurers.
Once again, if you were to stop reading after the words “health plan”, you wouldn’t have gotten the entire meaning of the sentence. Experience tells me that the Obama-haters aren’t interested in the truth, only that which fits with their preconceived memes.
Tom Daschle sent a note to the author clarifying his comments and making it very clear that there was no deal on the public option.
“In describing some of the challenges to passage of the public option in the health reform bill, I did not mean to suggest in any way that the President was not committed to it. The President fought for the public option just as he did for affordable health care for all Americans. The public option was dropped only when it was no longer viable in Congress, not as a result of any deal cut by the White House. While I was disappointed that the public option was not included in the final legislation, the Affordable Care Act remains a tremendous achievement for the President and the nation.” (emphasis mine)
The lie gets bigger
The author of the original article, David Kirkpatrick, also went on The Ed Show to discuss his article. I feel obligated to remind people that Ed Schultz is a former Republican who was one of the voices telling people to stay home in 2010 and we all know how that turned out for the country.
Jonathon Bernstein’s excellent piece on the public option lie points us to the source of that lie and how Kirkpatrick’s appearance on The Ed Show helped precipitate it. I wasn’t surprised to find out that the lie was created at The Huffington Post, owned by another former Republican making money off liberals. Jonathon was inspired to write about this by yet another reference to the lie as fact by Drew Westen, a psychologist who has gone from specializing in personality disorders to being the poster boy for the Professional Left.
Westen links to what appears to be confirmation for this story, and it’s been repeated by others. However, if you follow the links the story starts to dissolve — after a couple levels of assertions that this “deal” has been proven, it turns out to be built on some very murky stuff.
When you follow the “confirmation” link above, you come to a piece at TPM about David Kirkpatrick’s interview on The Ed Show and when you read a little further into the comments, you see the full quote from an astute reader.
There really were only two deals. meaning quid pro quo, handshake, commitment on both sides deals. one with the hospitals and one with the drug industry. I think what you’re interested in is that in the background of both of these deals was the PRESUMPTION, shared on the part of lobbyists on one side and the White House on other, that the public option was not going to be part of the final product.
You might say, look, the White House was throwing in the towel on a public option. Another person might look at the same deals and the same math in the Senate and say, that’s just realism. Anybody could have counted the votes in the Senate and said you didn’t have 60 votes to pass a bill, the 60 votes you need to pass a bill in the Senate that included the public option. (emphasis mine)
What is interesting to me is the statement by David Kirkpatrick from the New York times where he says “I think what you are interested in is…”, which is basically admitting why it is that Ed Schultz wanted him on his show — to further the false meme and give Schultz and the FDL crowd some red meat. That sentence continues with “that in the background of both of these deals is the ‘presumption‘…that the public option was not going to be a part of the final deal.”
The second paragraph, which gave more context, wasn’t a part of the story that Westen linked to, how odd. That whole part about “anybody could have counted the votes in the Senate and said you didn’t have 60 votes to pass the bill”, well apparently that didn’t square with the false meme that the firebaggers were in full swing promoting.
The second stage in the development of the “cave” myth came, as everyone knows, when the public option was dropped from inclusion in health care reform. At that point, the Democrats had 59 Senators + Lieberman (who never supported the PO). But there were also moments like the day Sen. Blanche Lincoln – one of those 59 – took to the floor of the Senate and said she would join with a Republican filibuster of the bill if it contained a public option… (emphasis mine)
The author of The Huffington Post piece was Miles Mogulescu, an entertainment lawyer and writer. He very boldly proclaimed in a blazing headline “Who’s Killing the Public Option? President Obama with a Rahm-Bow” and then proceeded to take David Kirkpatrick’s very carefully chosen words and reinterpret them, even inserting a few more to spice it up. I’ve highlighted his addition to the quote that has no evidence to support it and in fact was contradicted numerous times by President Obama and others in his administration. Mogulescu appears to be the primary source for the big lie and is the link that everyone points to when spreading it.
‘We have an agreement with the White House that I’m very confident will be seen all the way through conference’, one of the industry lobbyists, Chip Kahn, director of the Federation of American Hospitals, told a Capitol Hill newsletter…Industry lobbyists say they are not worried [about a public option.] ‘We trust the White House,” Mr. Kahn said.
Don’t you love how he just wedges that “about a public option” in there, forcing his baseless interpretation on the reader? In all of the articles that he writes after that, he uses that same paragraph as his proof of a deal for the public option. Using those brackets and inserting “about a public option” is very dishonest, considering the fact that there is no basis for his assertion. Let’s take a look at the rule for using brackets.
• Brackets are used to remove any confusion from the minds of the readers about the meaning of the sentence and if not used will leave the sentence incomplete.
The choir that he is preaching to, those who have an irrational hatred for our first black president, eat that shit up and suspend all critical thinking abilities in favor of furthering their anti-Obama memes.
Here is one very blatant example of how the lie has morphed. Cenk Uygur portrayed it this way in one of his Young Turks vodcasts.
So they made a deal and Obama administration agreed, we will kill the public option in every imaginable way, no matter how many times it comes up, we will spike it. As long as you agree to these $155 billion dollars in concessions. (emphasis mine)
He is referencing the New York Times article and that is how he portrays it. Does anyone take Cenk seriously anymore? Well, not MSNBC. /rimshot
There are many statements by President Obama showing his support for the public option. Here is one he made on July 9, 2009, that clearly shows his support.
“I am pleased by the progress we’re making on health care reform and still believe, as I’ve said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest. I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals.” (emphasis mine)
As we enter into the 2012 race, it is essential that real liberals and progressives get their facts straight. We are fighting a massive battle in the wake of the Citizens United case against the big money interests that are backing the Republican party. We can’t afford to have people who are supposedly on our side, spewing false memes and misinformation, that’s what the media is for. We need to be armed with the facts and ready to throw them in the face of anyone who is either misinformed or blatantly perpetuating the lies.
The lies on the left have to stop!
Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles