Republican Attacks on Health Reform: Dèjá Vu All Over Again

Republican attacks on health care reform this year sound remarkably like the attacks in the 1930’s and 1960’s against Social Security and Medicare. Take the above test from the House Majority Leader to see if you can tell the difference.

Voting For An Unpopular Health Care Plan

Greg Sargent points out that Medicare was also unpopular in many polls before it was passed. Democratic leaders are pointing out this fact to Democrats who are nervous about voting for the current health care plan:

Dem leaders have a message for nervous rank and file Dems: The public was also closely divided on whether to pass Medicare in the 1960s. And now look at how much the public loves it!

In an effort to stiffen Dem spines, senior Dem leadership aides are circulating among House Dems some polling numbers from the 1960s that underscore how controversial Medicare was in the months leading up to its historic passage.

Dem leadership staff is highlighting a series of numbers from 1962 on President John F. Kennedy’s proposal. In July of that year, a Gallup poll found 28% in favor, 24% viewing it unfavorably, and a sizable 33% with no opinion on it — showing an evenly divided public.

A month later, after JFK’s proposal went down, an Opinion Research Corporation poll found 44 percent said it should have been passed, while 37% supported its defeat — also showing an evenly divided public.

Also in that poll, a majority, 54%, said it was a serious problem that “government medical insurance for the aged would be a big step toward socialized medicine.”

After Lyndon Johnson was elected, a Harris poll found only a minority, 46%, supported a Federal plan to extend health care to the aged. Today, of course, Medicare is overwhelmingly popular.

The problem, as Sargent also points out, is that Democrats have to face the voters this year. It won’t  help Democrats up for reelection this year if the health care plan they pass becomes popular several years down the road.

As I’ve now argued in many posts, the Republicans are winning the spin war on this. It is necessary for the Democrats to do far more to explain to voters what is actually in the bill and debunk all the right wing spin being fed by the insurance industry. Polls do show that support for the plan jumps by as much as twenty points as soon as people are informed about what is actually in the bill, but far too few people understand the bill.

ABC and Amanpour Reportedly Close to Deal for “This Week”

There have been rumors that Christiane Amanpour would take over as host of ABC’s “This Week” for several days. The last report I say quoted Amanpour as saying it was 50-50 whether she would take the job. Media Decoder believes they are close to making a deal:

ABC News is close to concluding a deal to install the longtime CNN foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour as the new host of its Sunday political discussion show “This Week.”

The network’s interest in Ms. Amanpour — and her favorable response to the approach — has been widely speculated about for weeks. Now the negotiations are close enough to completion that an announcement may be made as early as Thursday, though an ABC News executive cautioned that nothing was final and a number of points in the deal had yet to be resolved.

Having Amanpour as host would also shift the show more towards international affairs as opposed to domestic politics.

Transcript of Barack Obama’s Interview on Fox

The full transcript Barack Obama’s interview with Bret Baier of Fox is posted here. Earlier I posted the video here. Baier hit Obama with a long line of dishonest right wing talking points and avoided any meaningful discussion of the issues. As expected, they used the show to promote their own right wing propaganda without any regard for the facts.

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Barack Obama Interview on Fox Part 1

Obama To Appear on Fox–The Scene Of The Crime

Barack Obama and members of his administration realize that Fox is far more a propaganda arm of the Republican Party than a legitimate news organization but they also realize that they have to use all possible means of getting their message out. This includes going on Fox, with Barack Obama to appear on Special Report this evening. Michael Calderone writes:

With Robert Gibbs appearing on “Fox News Sunday” and Timothy Geithner stopping by Fox Business yesterday, it’s clear that top administration officials are willing to engage the much-criticized network a lot more these days.

Now tonight, President Obama sits down for an exclusive interview on “Special Report” as the health care debate wages and a vote’s expected. The upcoming Fox interview was a topic of discussion on — you guessed it — Fox.

On “The O’Reilly Factor, Brit Hume said that Obama’s decision to appear on Fox  “tells you for sure, if you didn’t know it already, they haven’t got the votes.”

Bill O’Reilly responded that ‘it’s a smart move to do it because there a lot of independents who watch” the network.

The White House believes that some of Fox’s audience may be swayed by the president. Gibbs, when asked Tuesday if Obama might be able to change any minds, said it was “certainly worth a shot.” And this morning, a White House official further explained the decision further to Playbook:

“Many of the falsehoods and myths about health reform gained traction with Glenn Beck and others on FOX, so the President is returning to the scene of the crime to make the final sale. As we have said, we will work with Fox where it serves our communications interests, and this does.”

There is a segment of the population which gets all of its news from Fox and similar right wing propaganda outlets and this is the only way to reach these people. The problem is that such people are not likely to have their minds changed by the facts. The question is whether there are enough persuadable viewers who are watching Fox.

It is a tough call as to whether to go on Fox. Based upon their past track record, there is a high possibility that Fox will twist whatever is said in coverage of the interview afterward. However, if administration officials do not go on Fox they will simply twist other news footage to present their misinformation. Perhaps going on Fox will at least allow them to get their message to people who watch the actual interview, even if it is inevitable that any subsequent coverage will be distorted .

Top Ten Immediate Benefits From Health Care Reform

While the outcome is not certain, there is going to be an up or down vote on health care reform. Most of the changes from health care reform will be phased in over the next several years, but there are some benefits we will see immediately. The House Democrats blog lists the top ten:

  • Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;
  • Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;
  • Prohibit dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;
  • Lower seniors prescription drug prices by beginning to close the donut hole;
  • Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;
  • Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans;
  • Require plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;
  • Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
  • Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
  • Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs.

There are also additional benefits noted here.

Support For Health Care Reform Increasing Per Public Policy Polling–But Only Among Democrats

Support for health care reform fell dramatically in the polls over the past year due to the right wing misinformation campaign. Polling has showed that people opposed the current bill but also opposed doing nothing in even great numbers. Polling has also showed that strong majorities have supported the individual components of the bill (along with a public option which has been removed) but also said they oppose the current bill. This is most likely due to a lack of understanding of what is in the bill with polls also showing as much as a twenty point jump in support after the bill was explained to people.

Support for health care reform still remains depressed but is gradually improving in recent polls. Public Policy Polling presents another example of this:

…support for health care is on the rise. 45% of voters now say they’re for his plan while 49% are opposed. A month ago the spread was 39% in support and 50% opposed.

Dennis Kucinich’s flip on the health care vote this morning is symbolic of a broader shift among liberals. Last month 73% said they supported the plan with 19% opposed. Now 89% say they support the plan with only 3% opposed. Whether it’s because of the President’s increasing visibility on the issue or because liberals finally decided the current bill is as good as they’re going to get and better than nothing, there’s been a big rise in support since early February.

Unfortunately the improvement in this poll remains almost exclusively among Democratic voters. Reducing the opposition from the left is of value but is hardly enough.

The Republicans continue to win the spin war and Democrats must do a better job of explaining what is actually in the bill to avoid major defeats in November. This is complicated by the fact that most of the benefits will not be seen for a few years, and it will take at least that long for people to see that there is no truth to the Republican scare stories about a “government take over of health care” or of “death panels.”

Kucinich Reportedly To Announce Vote For Health Care Reform Bill

The House vote for health care reform is currently too close to call. While the original House health care plan passed with a majority, some of the supporters of the bill are threatening to vote against adopting the Senate bill with revisions.

The possible defectors include conservative Democrats who object to language in the Senate bill which doesn’t go far enough in their view to prevent government spending on abortion.

There is also opposition to the bill from the left, but there might actually be a change in support for the bill. Dennis Kucinich, who has opposed the bill based upon the belief it does not go far enough, has been under tremendous pressure from liberals who argue that passage is needed as a first step towards making the changes they desire. Kucinich is holding a press conference on Wednesday and is expected to say he will vote for the bill.

This story is resulting in considerable anger from the portion of the left which backs the “kill the bill” mentality. Jane Hamsher writes:

A thousand people have donated over $16,000 to Dennis since yesterday to thank him for standing up for what he believes in. We’ll be asking him to return it.

One question is whether Kucinich is changing his votes due to receiving major concessions, or if this is an example of the type of pressure being placed on Democratic Congressmen to support passage of the bill.