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Out-"FOXed" On Health Care

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

            Americans may still be spared the pain of ObamaCare.

            At the time of writing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t have enough votes to pass the Senate’s version of health “reform.” So some House liberals are considering a trick that would allow them to pass a “rule” that says their bill passed without actually having a vote in the House on that bill.

Sean Hannity FREE

            It’s not a sign of strength when a bill’s supporters are already searching for plausible deniability -- when they’re aiming to pass a bill yet campaign that they didn’t vote for it. Remember how well John Kerry’s hair-splitting claim, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” played on the trail.

Clearly, many House liberals realize their bill is overwhelmingly unpopular. So how did it get to this point? One man wants to credit (or blame) FOX News.

            “After 14 months of Fox’s relentless pounding of President Obama’s idea of sweeping reform, the latest Gallup poll shows opinion running 48 to 45 percent against the current legislation,” wrote Howell Raines in the Outlook section of The Washington Post. Raines, former executive editor of The New York Times, claims this pressure has moved mountains.

            “The American people and many of our great modern presidents have been demanding major reforms to the health-care system since the administration of Teddy Roosevelt,” he writes. Yet what we’re seeing today is “a matter of Fox turning reality on its head with, among other tactics, its endless repetition of its uber-lie: ‘The American people do not want health-care reform.’”

            Well, first, opposition is no lie.

Every credible poll shows ObamaCare is underwater with Americans. And support has been steadily eroding as the process has gone on. It seems reasonable to assume that’s because people have had time to find out what’s in the bill and what it might cost, and they’re trending against it. No wonder Obama keeps setting false deadlines and claiming we need reform, “right now!”

            Second, it’s amazing to claim that FOX News, which has about 2.6 million viewers in prime time, has somehow swayed the opinions of 297 million Americans who didn’t watch it. That’s effective messaging.

Meanwhile, as FOX has (in Raines’ view) been working against the president, it’s also carried his countless addresses live. Obama can not only go over the heads of FOX News executives, he can co-opt their equipment and use it to deliver his message whenever he schedules a joint address to Congress, a prime time news conference, a campaign-style event in Ohio, and so forth. And he’s only lost support when he’s done so.

Raines seems confused on an important point: While Americans may well want “reform,” they don’t want “ObamaCare.” They like bits of the bill, but oppose the scope and expense when all those pieces are stitched together.

Consider it this way: As a Washington Capitals fan, I’m a big fan of Alex Ovechkin. Yet I was rooting against him in the Olympics when he played for Russia. My support for a single player didn’t translate into support for his entire team.

Finally, Raines writes that FOX News “has sold a falsified image of the professional standards that developed in American newsrooms and university journalism departments in the last half of the 20th century.” He’d apparently like to see the network behave more like his beloved former employer, the Times.

Here’s how that paper’s Sunday magazine framed a recent question to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.: “Your ‘Road Map,’ we should explain, is a somewhat alarming document that proposes, in 600-plus pages, erasing the federal deficit by radically restricting the government’s role in social programs like Social Security and Medicare.”

Ryan’s draft is a comprehensive plan to deal with America’s fiscal crisis. Indeed, it calls for big changes to federal entitlement programs. But the fact is that these programs are going to change, no matter what happens. Our government is simply making trillions of dollar’s worth of promises it can’t afford to keep.

It would be better to do things the way Ryan wants to -- make changes to the programs now and change their course -- rather than wait until they run out of money and the federal government has to revoke the benefits it’s promised.

What is truly “somewhat alarming” is listening to the president go on FOX News and attempt to explain a health care plan when even he isn’t certain what’s in it. The more we learn about the bill -- on FOX and elsewhere -- the less we like it. It will be interesting to see if lawmakers can grasp that.

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