Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why the Public is Genuinely Confused About Health Care Reform

The principle foundation of a democracy relies on an informed electorate. But the true bastions of that democracy, a free and impartial press, lately have been consistently sleeping on the job. Consider this: today, Alan Fram of the Associated Press writes the following:

The Democrats seem ready to use "reconciliation," a seldom-used procedure that could let them push legislation through the Senate with a simple majority. Republicans say reconciliation should be used for budget changes, not a dramatic reshaping of national health care policy. With polls showing that some voters consider the process unfair, some moderate Democrats have expressed a reluctance to support it. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., said Friday she will be a "definite no" if it is used.

Seldom used? Health Care reform has traditionally been shaped by reconciliation in this country. COBRA was created by reconciliation, which is what the "R" in the acronym stands for. So was S-CHIP. And to make things worse, this simple sentence suggests that a simple majority vote represents some sort of unsavory legislative tactic, as opposed to the normal way the senate has operated for centuries. Is it little wonder that "polls [show] that some voters consider the process unfair"?

Truth is majority rule is normal. The Reconciliation process is also normal. MSNBCs Rachel Maddow outlines its use over the past 28 years.

Rachel Maddow Feb 24

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Out of 22 times reconciliation has been used in recent years, 16 of those times they were used by Republicans to strong-arm their efforts through Congress. Now they claim the process is seldom used. Seldom used by whom? Democrats? Where is the fact-checking here? Why did such a blatantly false comment so blithely slip past the Associated Press without question?

What is new is how Republican lawmakers have hijacked the filibuster, virtually bringing the legislative process to a standstill. Maybe I missed it, but did Mr. Fram simlarly condemn this process, which truly isn't normal?

Rachel Maddow (MSNBC):

Watch the Rachel Maddow Show for fair, impartial analysis of world news and health care reform.

There was a time when truth took precedence and facts mattered. A time when we didn't justify repeating or reporting blatantly false information by blaming the source. And we didn't go back to a source who consistently provided erroneous information.

More than 200 bills are currently bogged down in the Senate, held hostage by Republican filibusters. Bills that would help families who are facing foreclosure or that would help create jobs. Where are the stories about how the entire legislative process has come to a standstill, making it virtually impossible to pass simple legislation with a clear majority vote. Where are the investigative, in-depth stories about that?

Rachel Maddow (Feb 23):

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When the President announced his plans for a health care summit to bring both Democrats and Republicans to the table for a substantive discussion on health care reform he expressed optimism that Republicans truly cared about this country, as opposed to just scoring political points. It was a genuine opportunity for both sides to "roll up their sleeves" and get to down to real work on real issues and come to a common understanding.

But as you can see from these before and after clips, Republicans used the opportunity for "more of the same."

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Do you really call this patriotism?

Hardball with Chris Matthews (Feb 25)

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Republicans seem quick to claim they care about this country and about what Americans want. They claim the overwhelming majority of the country who voted for the President and who support health care reform aren't "real Americans." Yet, they spread misinformation routinely that seldom gets challenged in any meaningful way by the press. Case in point: All the brouhaha over carrying the health care debate on C-Span.

John McCain made a point blaming the President for not showing the health care debate on C-Span, as if the President has any choice about what C-Span does or does not air. Anyone who follows C-Span knows that the debate over health care has been part of their coverage as a normal part of what they cover every day. Just because there was no one single "show" that exclusively focused on health care doesn't mean it hasn't been on the air, and has been on the air since the bill was introduced last year through passing both House and Senate. What hasn't been on C-Span is the part that C-Span never covers, efforts after a bill has passed both chambers of the house.

What McCain didn't mention was all the amendments to the existing health care bill that were made to adopt his own recommendations.

The White House currently lists all the amendments to the original health care proposal taken from suggestions made by Republicans. So much for trying to force legislation through with no no-bipartisanship.

So what's next? It's time to move forward. The Health Care summit showed clearly that the Republican party has no interest in making legislation or listening to the majority of the American people. Their only goal seemingly is to completely thwart and circumvent the legislative process.

Hardball with Chris Matthews (Feb 26):

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