No Longer Funny

Rich Tucker
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Posted: Apr 02, 2010 12:01 AM

            Was the following printed in an actual newspaper or in The Onion?

“Expected to suffer the most if Fairfax County approves a $3.4 million budget cut proposed for its public libraries are children, non-English speaking immigrants, seniors and the disabled.”

            The answer: A real newspaper. The March 25 Falls Church News-Press, to be exact.

            Conservatives joke that if the planet was about to explode, The New York Times headline would read, “World to End; Women, Minorities Will Suffer Most.” (USA Today would purportedly go for, “We’re Outta Here.”)

Sean Hannity FREE

Yet as the above example highlights, it’s getting harder to determine what’s real and what’s parody, especially with the (continuing) debate over health care reform.

President Barack Obama has signed an expensive reform measure. But debate isn’t finished. The president jetted to Iowa, a swing state, to host a campaign-style event after signing the law. He dared opponents of his reform to make repeal the centerpiece of the November midterm elections.

“If they want to look Lauren Gallagher in the eye and tell her they plan to take away her father’s health insurance, that’s their right,” Obama boomed. “If they want to make Darlyne Neff pay more money for her check-ups, her mammograms, they can run on that platform.” But here’s where fact meets farce.

Obama can name-check ordinary Americans all he wants to. But the fact is people wouldn’t get help from this bill for years.

As an example, leftie radio host Matt Miller invites us to consider David Frum, who just left a job at the American Enterprise Institute. In a blog on The Washington Post’s Web site, Miller explains, “Luckily for the Frums, big government is here to save them.” How so? “Once Obamacare’s new insurance exchanges are up and running in 2014, the Frums -- and the other 300 million of us -- will never have to worry about being shut out of insurance coverage.”

So the liberal position is that if the unemployed can just hold out for another four years, they’ll be able to get health insurance. I don’t recall hearing that soundbite during the 14-month congressional debate over reform. But by all means, let’s have an election on that premise.

As an aside, Miller also writes that, “What many people don’t realize about the think tank world is that the policy types who serve as modestly paid fellows do so in large part for the health coverage.” Politico’s Mike Allen writes that Frum earned $100,000-a-year at AEI. Bet you wish you could be “modestly paid” like that, health coverage or not.

In any event, much about this bill and the way it was sold to Americans is farcical.

A key proponent of reform now explains, “The wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy. And the middle-income class is left behind.” Sen. Max Baucus adds that the problem is, “wages have not kept up with the increased income of the highest income Americans. This legislation will have an effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.”

Oh, so the bill is aimed at income redistribution? Wow, thanks for telling us that after it passed. From reading the papers, one would have gotten the impression the bill was all about “covering the uninsured” (which even proponents admit it won’t do until 2014) and “bending the cost curve” (which it won’t do at all).

As if to prove that, the Associated Press reported (after the bill had become law), “The health care overhaul will cost U.S. companies billions and make them more likely to drop prescription drug coverage for retirees because of a change in how the government subsidizes those benefits.” Wow. Too bad we didn’t learn that before the signing.

Oh, but the mainstream media did a great job reporting on health care reform. They say so themselves.

“The conventional wisdom is that the press failed to educate the public about the bill's sweeping changes, leaving much of America confused about just what it contained,” wrote Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post the day after the House passed the bill. “That is largely a bum rap, for the media churned out endless reams of data and analysis that were available to anyone who bothered to look.”

Right.

There must have been any number of front-page stories explaining:

        That the bill plans to collect 10 years of taxes to pay six years of benefits, so it won’t seem as expensive as it really is.

        That the bill will encourage companies to dump retirees into Medicare Part D, a step that will cost the federal government several billion dollars.

        That the Hill staff members who wrote the bill exempted themselves from its requirements.

My mistake for not finding those stories among the “reams of data and analysis” written about the proposal.

Obamacare contains more provisions that citizens aren’t aware of yet, and won’t like when they find out about. The time for farce is finished. Come November, let’s have a serious vote.