Friday, November 14, 2014

Ron Fournier is the Problem, not Jonathan Gruber

OK, now that Rush Limbaugh has turned on the national radar, everyone is shocked, shocked that MIT professor and health-care expert Jonathan Gruber boasted about the Obama administration's Obamacare lies. Not least of the shocked is former AP superstar Ron Fournier. He writes in the National Journal more in sorrow than in anger:
If there is one thing that unites clear-headed Americans, it's a belief that our leaders must be transparent and honest.
Instead, it can now be told, the administration and its acolytes deliberately lied about Obamacare:
Its officials lied to all of us—Republicans, Democrats, and independents; rich and poor; white and brown; men and women.
You see, Ron Fournier wants everything that is good:
I strongly support bipartisan efforts to expand the availability of health coverage to the working poor, and bending the cost curve that threatens federal budgets for years to come.
But then Ron excoriates "knee-jerk opposition from the GOP." Do you see how that tells us everything we need to know about you, Ron Fournier? When you say "knee-jerk" you are telling us that you support a big-government solution to the health-care problem and that anyone opposing it is a small-time political opportunist, playing to the base.

If you were a true "un-biased" reporter, Ron, you would say: "Look, as much as I want to solve the health crisis with a big-government one-size-fits-all program in the teeth of economics and experience, I gotta say, the Obama guys didn't sew up a bipartisan deal on their PPACA legislation."

"According to the science," you'd say, "partisan wrangling is normal and healthy until the proponents of the bill buy the support of the opponents to get passage. Political Science 101, baby."

But you may remember, Ron Fournier, that the votes the Obamis bought to pass the bill were Democrat votes. Remember the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback?

And remember Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who said that to pass a big bill like Medicare you need a 70-30 vote in the Senate?

Given all that, a wise observer of politics would have said back in January of 2010: this PPACA is a mess. Take it back to the drawing board, Mr. President, Madam Speaker, and Leader Reid, and don't come back until you've got some Republican votes. Just to make a bipartisan consensus. Just to propitiate the ghost of Moynihan.

But let's get back to the question of political lying in general.

In my view the partisan mainstream media has done Republicans a favor. Chaps like you, Ron, never give Republicans the benefit of the doubt on political rhetoric. When Republican administrations are trying to put one over on the voters here's always the "but critics say" graf to give the Democrat talking point. And there are always liberal activist groups crying "Bush lied, people died" or some similar catchphrase to push back against the administration talking points.

But the mainstream media doesn't call Democrats on their lies. Partly, I suspect, it's because you are all liberals and all believe that the American people are stupid, like Gruber does, and that wise educated rulers are needed to tell the American people where to go and what to do. Partly, I suspect, it's because you are all afraid for your jobs. You well know what a call from the White House or a powerful senator can do to you and your career. So you keep your diaper clean.

Let's rehearse the lies the Democrats got away with over the last 20 years.

  1. Bill Clinton and "I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky." If you had gone after President Clinton like you did with President Nixon...
  2. Bush stole the 2000 election. No he didn't. But the Democrats spent eight years whipping up their base about Bush the "selected not elected" president, and you chaps were pretty spare with the "but critics say" that the recount in Florida clearly showed that Bush won.
  3. "Bush lied, people died" on Iraq. No doubt the Bushies over-promised on the weapons of mass destruction, but this was intelligence; nobody can be sure what is going on. You have to go on the best intelligence, and the intelligence said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
  4. "Greedy bankers" caused the Crash of 2008. No doubt they helped, but the real culprit was Fannie and Freddie lending money to sub-prime borrowers on low down payments. And sub-prime lending was liberal policy. What did we hear from the media on that?
  5. "If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor." If you guys had done due diligence you would have known that the claim was a flat lie. But you said nothing.
  6. Climate change. The science is pretty clear on this. The current global temperature is nothing special. The rate of increase in temperature is nothing special. We don't know what a doubling of the trace gas carbon dioxide will do to the climate, and our computer models have failed to predict the current "pause." Anyway, it seems pretty clear that we can't afford the cost of changing the climate; we can only adapt to climate change.
Here's the problem, Ron Fournier, from the point of view of establishment journalists like you. Because you chaps have failed to call your guys on their lies in recent years your guys have upped the ante. And now the lies are really hitting home with ordinary Americans, particularly as they lose their jobs and their health plans to Obamacare.

And now President Obama is pushing executive amnesty, which forces ordinary Americans to compete will low-wage illegal immigrants not just in the underground economy but the formal economy.

The point is that in the next two years it will be easy for Republicans, even really stupid ones, to run against Democrats and win. Americans think that things are going the wrong way, and that the president has lied to them. Remember the recent midterms? It was hardly mentioned on the nightly news. So even with the mainstream media pushing against Republicans, the American people still knew what to do if they were angry about jobs and health care.

Just imagine if top establishment journalists had run a "Truth-o-list" list server that was devoted to keeping their own side honest. Imagine that journalists had written "but critics say that the real culprit in the Crash of 2008 was federally subsidized loans to sub-prime borrowers." Imagine that journalists had written that "administration insiders admit that many people will lose their health plans as insurers adapt plans to meet the front-end benefits like contraception mandated by Obamacare."

Imagine that you chaps had actually been doing your jobs.

But that's "if only" now.

Now the Democrats are reaping the whirlwind. Now we have chaps like Ted Cruz coming up to bat. Now we have a Republican Congress. Now we have tired, extreme Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren leading the polls for Democratic nominee in 2016 while the Republicans have a full bench of successful governors and aggressive senators ready to bat.

Now we have African Americans spun around by Trayvon and Ferguson, demoralized by the First Black President that made their lives worse. How we have Hispanics that want jobs more than they want immigration reform. Now we have Asians that got to see the gentle giant of Ferguson strong-arming an Asian shop-assistant and wondering what they are doing in the party of affirmative action. Now we have young people wondering if they will ever pay off their student debt or ever get a decent job that leads to a good career.

And you establishment journalists could have helped prevent it. If you had done your jobs.

Yep, Jonathan Gruber isn't the problem. There will always be ambitious henchmen to do the bidding of their powerful patrons. But journalists, we were told, were different.

Except that they aren't. Journalists are just ordinary humans. They go with the flow and are easily intimidated by powerful politicians.

What a shame.

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