Comedian, Corrected: WaPo Fact-Checker Dismantles Jimmy Kimmel's Latest Misleading Partisan Lecture

Posted: Dec 14, 2017 10:20 AM

On Tuesday, we brought you the most recent pronouncement from America's Pope, who declared on his alleged comedy show that Congressional Republicans are prioritizing tax cuts for the rich over the lives of needy children.  We ran through a number of reasons why his tear-filled sermon, delivered toddler-in-arms, was a demagogic and unfair framing of the relevant issues and facts.  But don't just take our word for it.  Might some backtracking be in order, now that a media organization Kimmel can't dismiss as 'fake news' or the "crazies" has similarly taken him to task?  I wouldn't expect much, to be honest, but this is still refreshing and important:

Many of the points Glenn Kessler offers readers were also covered in our post, but let's review them again, for posterity:  (1) CHIP is a bipartisan program co-authored by a conservative Republican.  To pretend that its bipartisan legacy is fraying because of Republican myopia, or that the future of the program is under genuine threat, is akin to going "off the rails:"

Support for CHIP remains bipartisan. Kimmel starts to go off the rails by suggesting that support is no longer bipartisan. The federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, which is why funding technically ran out when CHIP was not reauthorized. But states may continue to spend unspent 2017 allotments and funds from earlier years...more than half the states would run out of funds if fiscal year 2018 funding is not set by the end of March. That’s the kind of deadline that focuses the attention of lawmakers. In any case, the stopgap spending bill approved in early December included a provision that permits the Department of Health and Human Services to shift funds internally to help states whose CHIP programs are running out of money. Congressional leaders are expected to continue negotiating a long-term reauthorization of the program in the coming weeks...The GOP-led House of Representatives on Nov. 3 passed a CHIP reauthorization bill by a vote of 242-174, with most Democrats voting against it because of funding offsets. In particular, they objected to shortening the grace period for Obamacare enrollees who fail to make premium payments. House Republicans have complained that Democrats have not countered with their own funding proposals...The Senate Finance Committee in October approved its own version of the CHIP funding extension, but agreement has not been reached on how to fund it. Still, it’s quite possible a deal will be reached before Christmas. 

 (2) No, the GOP isn't using this children's health program as a "bargaining chip" on tax reform.  Kessler's simple and cutting line, "Congress is able to work on several issues at once" reads like an adult patiently explaining elementary-level facts to a tantrum-throwing child:

Kimmel falsely suggests that CHIP has become bargaining chip as part of the negotiations over the tax plan. It’s actually part of the usual year-end negotiations in Congress. Few lawmakers are really against CHIP; the question is how to fund it...As we noted, Congress has moved forward on resolving CHIP funding while also pushing forward on tax legislation...CHIP is completely unrelated to the tax legislation; in fact, it won’t be and was never going to be part of the tax bill. Congress is able to work on several issues at once — and most of the outstanding issues get wrapped up just before important holidays.

(3) Actually, the Republican tax plan isn't just for "the rich," and as it happens, one of their (unrelated) CHIP pay-fors involves an effective tax hike on "the rich:"

While aspects of the legislation are tilted toward the wealthy and corporations, most taxpayers in all income groups at least initially will experience a decrease in taxes, according to the Joint Tax Committee. Moreover, one House GOP proposal to fund CHIP would target the wealthy by eliminating a Medicare subsidy for retirees with annual incomes above $500,000.

(4) Despite Kimmel's urgent pleas to phone up the Capitol switchboard, replete with melodramatic theatrics and emotionally manipulative optics (which is not to suggest that his emotions about his son's well-being are synthetic), there is no crisis here:

Kimmel’s frame of reference is off. CHIP funding is being negotiated even as Congress is debating a tax plan. Both the House and Senate have signaled they support reauthorization of CHIP. The impasses over funding had led to some uncertainty in a handful of states, but there is no immediate crisis — and the recent stopgap funding bill provides flexibility to keep CHIP programs running in states.

In short, to quote another related piece, "Jimmy Kimmel has no clue what he's talking about."  But damn, the media accolades and adulation must feel pretty great.  So brave. I'll leave you with Ben Shapiro's piece contesting not only the accuracy of Kimmel's performance, but the morality of it.  As we've noted previously, Shapiro has a personal stake on this front, too:

Jimmy Kimmel once again used his son’s heart condition as a lever for talking about health care. This time, he talked about the Children’s Health Insurance Program, created by Republicans and now pressed forward by Republicans; last time, he used his son’s heart condition to talk about the evils of altering Obamacare. This angers me. It angers me not just because I think it’s exploitative — though I do. I think it’s exploitative because my own daughter had open heart surgery to fix an atrial septal defect at the same hospital with the same doctor as Kimmel’s son, but I don’t put her face on camera in order to make political hay...I’d never think of using my daughter’s health (thank God, she’s totally fine now) to stump for a particular health policy. She’s a kid, and it’s my job to keep her safe from politics and the public. But the invocation of personal experience in political debate is generally obtuse because it is a soft form of identity politics. It puts those arguing in the position of supposedly rejecting your personal experience, thus impugning your integrity or the veracity of your feelings.

The same logic that undergirds Kimmel’s appeal — my kid has suffered, so listen to me on this unrelated topic — undergirds the identity politics of the left and right (“I’ve lived this, so my perspective matters more”). It’s safe to say that Avik Roy knows scads more about health policy than either Jimmy or I do, and that would be true whether or not he has kids or kids who have had a heart condition. The whole point of determining policy is that empathy shouldn’t outweigh reason ... Beyond that, the emotional appeal of experience often isn’t an appeal to empathy at all. It’s an appeal to separation: it’s “you don’t understand-ism.” The point isn’t to create connection with the audience — it’s to suggest that those who disagree with you are incapable of forming a connection. They must disagree because they have no feelings. This poisons politics.

Between the WaPo slap-down and Shapiro's stern missive, it's possible Kimmel is feeling a little bit of shame. It's far likelier, however, that he's mulling his next sanctimonious decree.  One must keep those echo chamber plaudits fresh, after all.

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