What the heck has Obama proposed: Yesterday, the far-reaching Blunt amendment went down to a narrow defeat. It would have let every employer pick and choose what to include in his health insurance plan.
Question: Does anyone know what President Obama has actually proposed in this area? Does anybody know at this point? How about Democratic senators?
On last evening’s Hardball, Chris spoke with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand about this ongoing battle. He played a Republican radio ad from Missouri, then asked the senator to respond. To watch the full segment, click here.
We were puzzled by Gillibrand’s account of Obama’s proposal:
MATTHEWS (3/1/12): What would you say? What would you say in response to that [ad] in Missouri?Say what? Gillibrand took those “28 states” and raised them a few, referring to “at least 28 states.” But her account of Obama’s position didn’t seem to encompass the actual compromise he has made to his original proposal. “What is not excluded are large employers, universities, hospitals, who can’t pick and choose what laws they’re actually going to follow?” In fact, universities and hospitals were among the specific targets of the ballyhooed compromise he announced on February 10.
GILLIBRAND: Listen, the ad is outrageous and it’s a bald-faced lie. So you’re saying that we’re telling the Catholic Church what to do? No, we are not. In fact, President Obama made such a reasonable and very respectful compromise. He excluded churches and synagogues and institutions that are primarily for religious purposes, where the people who work there are the same religion.
What is not excluded are large employers, universities, hospitals, who can’t pick and choose what laws they’re actually going to follow. You can’t choose which labor law you think is worthwhile and which one isn’t. We've decided that long, long ago. And in fact, the Supreme Court Justices, the most conservative of them, Justice Scalia, made that point, said you are not allowed to pick and choose what laws you want to follow based on some religious objection.
And so this is long-settled law. And in at least 28 states, Chris, this has been the law of the land for about a decade, where states have made the determination that these larger institutions that serve the public at large in commercial ventures actually have to play by the same rules as everybody else.
GILLIBRAND: And so the ad is a lie.
Will Catholic hospitals and universities “actually have to play by the same rules as everybody else?” We were puzzled by Gillibrand’s account. But Chris immediately said she was right. Soon, he doubled down:
MATTHEWS: And not only did they—I’m sorry to interrupt, but I think you missed a point important to me. And that is, not only did he compromise by excepting churches and synagogues, he went further later on and made it clear that the insurance companies would have to pay for this coverage and not require the churches or synagogues to sign onto something they can’t within their own religious beliefs do so. I think he really went the extra yard here.Like Gillibrand, Chris made it sound like Obama’s compromise, which “went the extra yard,” affects churches and synagogues only.
You’re great to come on the show tonight. I didn’t know you’d be coming on in the face of Rush Limbaugh, but I think you did a good job on that character, the new spiritual grand poobah of the Republican Party. Anyway, thank you so much, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of the Empire State, New York.
Chris never knows what he’s talking about, but we were puzzled by Gillibrand's statements. That said, cable guests say the darnedest things on a quite regular basis! Last night, on the O’Reilly Factor, Mr. O was complaining about the fact that Obama wants to raise his income tax rate.
Mr. O’s statement was factually accurate. We've never seen him misstate this point. But look what Democratic fund-raiser Robert Zimmerman instantly said in reply:
O’REILLY (3/1/12): Now for the top story tonight, reaction with us: Tamara Draut, vice president at Demos, a progressive organization, and Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic fundraiser.“He's asking all of us for more money?” Presumably, Zimmerman meant that he is asking all of us high earners for more money. (Zim has a whole lot of swag.) But just like that, he seemed to voice a treasured bit of disinformation—Obama wants to raise everyone’s taxes!
All right. How can President Obama ask me to pay more taxes when every single day I am reporting things like this? Fannie Mae wants another $5 billion. Abound Solar going out of business after, you know, an enormous investment by the federal government.
How can he ask me for more money? He's mismanaging what I have already given him? Robert.
ZIMMERMAN: Well first of all, he's asking all of us for more money.
O'REILLY: He's asking—I'm personalizing.
O'REILLY: He's asking me for more money. He's mismanaging what I have already given him.
ZIMMERMAN: I've got to tell you. I don't agree with you on that premise.
The GOP works hard to make people think such things. Zimmerman quickly helped them out. And no, his misleading statement never got straightened out.
Cable guests say the darnedest things! Question: With guests like these on the left, why book guests from the right?