Part 1—To us, Hayes’ number seemed bad: How good a job do we liberals do at establishing a political agenda?
How good are we at persuading The Others that they should support our agenda?
When it comes to economic issues, we don’t go a good job at all. Consider:
Last week, we considered the way our corporate liberal news channel glossed and ignored the issues involved in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.
On several programs, passage of “fast track” authority was treated as part of President Obama’s “best week ever,” even though the TPP is widely opposed by progressives and congressional Democrats. On the Maddow Show in particular, the TPP has been handled in a clownishly and highly selective way—basically, as a chance to serve worthless comfort food to liberal viewers at bedtime.
Within our journalistic tribe, the issues at play with the TPP have been almost wholly ignored. For today, let’s consider a presentation we heard last Friday night about the ACA—President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
First, a bit of background:
Last month, Chris Hayes was surprised by a weird presentation by Judd Gregg, the former Republican senator from New Hampshire. Gregg insisted that the ACA has done little to lower the rate of people who are uninsured. Over the next several days, Hayes showed that Gregg was wrong.
Last Friday, Hayes revisited the theme. In the process, he revealed new data about the nation’s insurance rates, which continue to improve.
Below, you see what Hayes said, all of which is accurate. We’ll dump the part where Hayes played tape of Gregg’s weird claims from last month:
HAYES (7/10/15): There’s some big news out today that should put to rest forever one of the weirdest conservative arguments against the Affordable Care Act. I’ll tell you what it is in a moment, but first, some context.To see all the Gallup data, click here.
There are some people who say that the Affordable Care Act, despite its design to cover more of the uninsured, actually isn’t doing that—that it’s failing at its chief mission.
In fact, former senator from New Hampshire Judd Greg was on this program a few weeks ago and we had an exchange on precisely that point.
Just a few minutes after that exchange, we pulled up this graph which is from Gallup, not Pew, and it’s a graph showing that the uninsured rate dropped to 11.9 percent in the first quarter of this year. You see that there, that sharp decline that some might even characterize as “plummeting.” That’s the data, the best data we have.
Well, today we got more data from the same folks at Gallup, who are the kind of gold standard of what the uninsured rate is. And you’ll never guess what’s happened after that. Between that show and now we’ve seen the uninsured rate drop to a new low, 11.4 percent in the second quarter of this year. And it’s dropping particularly among people of color and people of low income.
Now there are all sorts of ways to criticize Obamacare and all sorts of ways you can say it’s not restraining costs, premiums might be going up. But the one thing it very clearly is doing is reducing the percentage of folks who are uninsured. So let’s please let’s drop that line of attack.
Everything Hayes said in that passage is accurate. That includes his perfectly reasonable statement that “there are all sorts of ways to criticize Obamacare.”
Gregg was weirdly wrong last month. Hayes was right when he told Gregg that the percentage of people who are uninsured has significantly dropped because of the ACA.
Hayes was right and Gregg was wrong. Still, we were struck by what Hayes said last Friday.
In the current political cycle, the effort that produced the ACA began in 1991. At that time, several Democratic presidential candidates proposed systems of “universal health care.”
Bob Kerrey had taken the lead in making “universal health care” a central issue in the campaign. In December of that year, the New York Times’ Richard Berke reported a Democratic debate which took health care as its theme:
BERKE (12/21/91): Perhaps the most detailed plan was advanced by Mr. Kerrey, who has introduced legislation that would provide universal health care financed by a 5 percent payroll tax, a 2 percent tax on nonwage income and increased income taxes on the wealthy.Candidate Clinton ended up winning the White House. Famously, his health care proposal was defeated during his first term.
Mr. Kerrey vowed to push such a plan through Congress in his first 100 days as President. From then on, he said, patients will be asked, "Where does it hurt?" not "How are you going to pay for it?"
Mr. Harkin said his plan would emphasize universal coverage without raising taxes, but he did not make clear how it would be financed. He said it would also stress preventive care and more money for medical research.
Another candidate with few details was former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. of California. He sounded his recurrent theme against special interests, berating the health care industry as "greedy people who are ripping off the system." He said he favored a system of universal health care financed with public money.
The other major candidate, Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, skipped the debate to attend a campaign fund raiser in Atlanta. He has said he supported universal coverage paid for by savings derived from Government-imposed cost controls and efforts to reduce billing fraud.
In Campaign 2000, Candidates Gore and Bradley battled over health care proposals which were perhaps more modest in scope. In 2007, the goal of “universal health care” emerged again, quite early on, as the focus of the Democratic campaign.
Robert Pear did the report in the New York Times, headline included:
PEAR (3/25/07): Candidates Outline Ideas For Universal Health CareObama won the Democratic nomination and the White House itself. He proposed the ACA, then actually got it passed!
Seven Democratic candidates for president promised Saturday to guarantee health insurance for all, but they disagreed over how to pay for it and how fast it could be achieved.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York assailed the health insurance industry and said she would prohibit insurers from denying coverage or charging much higher premiums to people with medical problems.
John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina, offered the most detailed plan for universal coverage, saying he would raise taxes to help pay the cost, which he estimated at $90 billion to $120 billion a year.
Senator Barack Obama of Illinois appeared less conversant with the details of health policy and sometimes found himself on the defensive, trying to explain why he had yet to offer a detailed plan to cover all Americans.
''The most important challenge is to build a political consensus around the need to solve this problem,'' Mr. Obama said.
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico offered a potpourri of ideas to achieve universal coverage, including tax credits to help people buy insurance and an option to let people ages 55 to 64 buy coverage through Medicare.
The candidates spoke at a forum on health care at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sponsored by the Service Employees International Union and the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal advocacy group. Sponsors of the forum said they had also invited Republican candidates, but none attended.
Health care is emerging as a top issue in the 2008 presidential race, as businesses join consumers in demanding action to curb costs and cover the uninsured.
This ended a political cycle which we would date to Candidate Kerrey in 1991. Last Friday, Hayes was citing real statistics about insurance rates.
It was the third time in the past month in which Hayes has revisited Gregg’s weird remarks, which were at best absurdly misleading. These segments may make liberal viewers feel good, since it turns out every time that Our Guy is right on the facts while Their Guy was weirdly wrong.
Everything Hayes said was correct. As liberal viewers, we were encouraged to feel good about the fact that “we’ve seen the uninsured rate drop to a new low, 11.4 percent” and about the fact that “it’s dropping particularly among people of color and people of low income.”
In fairness, Hayes made a point of saying that “there are all sorts of ways to criticize Obamacare.” We don’t mean this as a criticism of Hayes in particular. Many liberals make the type of presentation he made last Friday night.
We don’t mean this as a criticism of Hayes. But looking back over a political cycle which started in 1991, we thought that 11.4 percent uninsured rate was just remarkably high.
Beyond that, we thought Hayes’ upbeat statement about insurance rates among people of color was almost as misleading as Gregg’s original foolishness. One of the analysts went even farther.
He called Hayes’ remark an example of the attitude an American statesman has sometimes called “the soft bigotry of low expectations!” Haughtily, we cuffed him back into his small wooden chair.
Under the circumstances, we thought that number—11.4 percent—was just remarkably bad. Beyond that, we thought the number says something bad about the political skills of us in the liberal world.
Why did we have such ridiculous thoughts? Tomorrow, we’ll look at some numbers as our insouciance about the TPP extends a bit farther afield.
Tomorrow: 29.1 percent! Also, 20.8!
When Somerby cuffed his imaginary analyst back into his small wooden chair, do you think he was wearing an imaginary Nun costume, in a make believe parochial school fantasy?ReplyDelete
Or do you think he typed those lines with one hand while playing a toy xylophone with the other?
Yes, health care for all is just a funny, funny joke.Delete
Whomever introduced those clever analysts into the mix on this important story seemed to think so. Perhaps it wasn't BobDelete
Somerby. I hope so. Anything is possible.
Serious liberals should be appalled. If there are any.Delete
Serious liberals know George W. Bush, like Bob Somerby, has been right about liberals. We really don't care about black people. And brown people too if you insist.Delete
Bob know that in every job that must be done there must be an element of fun. He is using humor as the spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down so we can do better at our job of establishing our agenda.
You think the endless mockery aimed at Somerby is humor and not hostility?Delete
I don't think beating people, imaginary or not, is humor.Delete
Like Bernie Sander's rape fantasies, it tells a lot about the person who writes such fantasies up for all to see.
So, you confuse metaphor with reality and think imaginary analysts are real? You need some of that health care pronto.Delete
Agreed, The analysts are a metaphor in which Bob plays the role of liberal intellectual and the analysts are low country cousins. The fact this is a metaphor for real life events like the professors cuffing the grieving grandkids is made clear is Somerby's choice of "haughtily" to describe the metaphorical cuffing.Delete
Surely nobody but the excessively literal thinks real handcuffs were involved. That would be too kinky.
Go take your meds KZ.Delete
I think the reason Somerby has one of the analyst's uttering the famous Bush put-down of liberals and him reacting angrily is to avoid associating himself again with a Bush belief, like the time he said he believed Saddam had WMDs.Delete
I hope this is not the case, but if it is it is understandable.
The statement by Bush was a put-down of bigots, not liberals.Delete
Uh, Truman strongly supported universal, national health insurance. He failed. Clinton supported it too, asked his wife to take the reigns, she failed. Obama succeeded... so yes, let's credit Bob Kerrey.ReplyDelete
It is a well known fact that the current political cycle only goes back to 1992. That is when the Clinton Rules began and our intellectual culture began melting down once the Gatekeepers were tossed from their post at the Network News Wall.Delete
It makes sense that the Clinton rules would begin with the Clintons.Delete
Let's not forget about Nixon - strong supporter of health care reform and universal insurance.Delete
So, we have all agreed that there have been health care proposals in the past. Please explain why the current proposals are less ambitious and do less than the older ones. Is it because a proposal with little chance of being enacted can afford to be more inclusive whereas one that actually has to be paid for must be more limited? What do you think. Is it a lack of commitment to improving the health of all people? Is it because health care is too expensive, even with cost controls and preventative care?Delete
I don't agree that Nixon deserves credit for health care. If you look at the way he was treated by Woodward, Bernstein, Brodie and Perlstein, you could say the Clinton Rules began with him, though.Delete
Except for the cock hunt. Gary Hart gets credit for that.
yes, we all agree there have been health proposals in the past, but none of them mattered until 1992, obviously.Delete
Go Team Hill!!! If it weren't for her bravery Obamacare would never have happened, she's like John Brown or something.
John Brown came under fire at Harper's Ferry.Delete
We should at least agree it was modest of Bob to characterize the Gore 2000 health care plan as "perhaps more modest in scope."Delete
The defeat of Health Care Reform under Clinton was due in part to sexist reaction to a First Lady being given a major role in substantive policy,Delete
Great Britain enacted its state-funded welfare system immediately after years of extreme deprivation and suffering, when men and women bombed during the war and returning veterans needed health care and jobs. They didn't have the money but they saw the need in stark terms. It may be no coincidence that Obama's ACA was passed during a major recession, a time of greater social instability, greater need. Maybe if the need had been more extreme, we might have enacted universal coverage.Delete
Nobody voted for HRC when Willie was POTUS even though he foolishly proclaimed in 1992 that you get "two for the price of one" if they elected him..
HRC came under fire at Bosnia airport......
I agree with Somerby that we have lowered our expectations for universal health care. I don't know why that has happened. It seems to be part of a general shift of Democratic office holders to the right, a decrease in the benefits provided to workers (along with a decrease in their wages) in our economy perhaps due to the decrease in union participation, and a sense that there is little we can do to improve conditions. I do not understand why Somerby is being mocked for pointing out these things -- unless those doing the mocking are conservatives who want to see benefits and working conditions for the average person decreased in order to increase business profits.ReplyDelete
It would be interesting to know who still isn't being covered and why. Does anyone know this?
They can't wait to get their grimy government hands into anything and everything successful and voluntary but not sufficiently controlled. This made it easy to cross at least one candidate off my list.ReplyDelete
"Clinton said that “this on-demand or so-called gig economy is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation. But it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future”. She “vows to crack down on employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors”, which she says is “wage theft”. Clinton also said that benefits, paid sick leave, and maternity leave are essential to strengthening the middle class. Those are things independent contractors don’t get.]"
Plus she might make Uber drivers have driver's licenses and automobile insurance. What a meddler.Delete
HRC hasn't driven any vehicle since Nixon was in office. She is the perfect candidate to criticize those who prefer to be driven than drive themselves.Delete
I love it when Somerby is insouciant about the TPP.ReplyDelete
Did I read this right? Chris Hayes quotes from a gold standard showing progress for blacks and Hispanics and Somerby is fixing to give him the Karl Rove/Karen Hughes treatment?ReplyDelete
Why is Chris Hayes focusing the limited time he has on his show refuting stupid conservative mistakes instead of calling for improvements to our current system to include more people? That's what a progressive or liberal should be doing -- agitating for more change, not wasting time with what the opponents to ACA are saying.ReplyDelete
Similarly, why is anyone wasting time with the stupid troll remarks being posted here? These comments are for discussion of issues important to liberals and progressives and for comment on the substance of Somerby's opinions -- not for engaging in silly banter and fights with conservatives, who are no more correct or worth listening to than the guy Chris Hayes wasted his time with.
Paul Krugman is our MVP because his column focused on the underlying philosophy embodied in Republican proposals and policies -- not a dubious claim made about already enacted legislation. Chris Hayes could be more of an MVP if he similarly talked about what makes liberals different from Republicans on these issues and presented arguments in support of liberal positions. For independents and conservatives, it might get them thinking. For liberals, it would help them express arguments in favor of their beliefs that will be helpful in debates with family and friends in advance of the next election.Delete
Paul Krugman is our MVP. Paul Krugman’s work is ignored by the rest of the mainstream press. Krugman’s work gains no purchase anywhere else—produces no wider discussion.Delete
Others would do well to emulate Paul Krugman's effort and be totally ignored.
"Charles Krauthammer Schools Carlson and Krugman on Raising Social Security Retirement Age - " November 13, 2010Delete
"Krauthammer, On PBS's "Inside Washington," refuted Paul Krugman's foolish claims on this matter published in Friday's New York Times
"Krauthammer Rips Krugman's Claim Republicans Are Stealing From Babies and Pregnant Women"
mrc bullsh*t, naturally. You need to troll much harder.Delete
You should have no trouble refuting Krauthammer since it's just more B.S. When can we expect your rebuttal?
So, you are telling me that you respect Charles Krauthammer's opinion over that of a Nobel prize winning economist on issues related to the economy? Plainly Mr.Krauthammer does not know what he is talking about in this matter.Delete
POTUS Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. That only made him an expert on using drones to kill the enemy.
Why are you unable to use Krugman's arguments to refute Krauthammer?
"Here Are 5 Big Things Paul Krugman Says He Got Wrong Over The Years"
When it comes to economic issues, we don’t go a good job at all.ReplyDelete
Consider Hillary Clinton. Coverage, or lack of coverage of her economic speech was not even mentioned in the leading media blog of the liberal community.
Her speech was covered. But it was just given today. Shouldn't you wait and see what happens here tomorrow?Delete
Somerby had better cover the way the New York Times snubbed Hillary's speech by leaving it off the front page.Delete
The NYT is too busy keeping Ted Cruz's book off their best- seller list.Delete
"The New York Times' refusal to put Ted Cruz's memoir on its best-seller list is once again being called into question — this time by Amazon, the largest Internet retailer in the country."
Here is the thing. Obamacare was written by the health care corporations, with his approval, and over time the corporations will utterly destroy what little good it did. They have already started.ReplyDelete
P.S. What is the standard for being "covered"? Do Obama supporters even have one? One good part of Obamacare was eliminating "junk" catastrophe-only policies. As prices rise and corporations merge, expect the return of the junk.
I don't think it is the thing. It might be one of many things and could possibly seem important to many. But most already has a relationship with health care corporations without it.Delete