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Howard Kurtz, CBS, ABC Reporters Are Clueless Hacks on Health Care Reform

If you want to know why reforming America’s disastrous health care system is nearly impossible, all you need to do is read today’s disingenous column by the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz as he echoes phony Republican talking points from ABC’s Jake Tapper and CBS’s Chip Reid. First, Hacktacular Howie:

President Obama declined last night to ask the American people to make much sacrifice to reform health care.

ABC’s Jake Tapper served up the question: Other than the rich, who would pay higher taxes, are the American people "going to have to give anything up in order for this to happen"?

Sure, the president said. Tests that don’t make them healthier. And if they’re taking a red pill and a blue pill can have the same effect for half the price, they’ll have to take the blue pill. In other words, not much.

CBS’s Chip Reid gave him another shot: "You talk about cuts in Medicare and they talk about cuts in Medicare, but there are never many specifics. Specifically, what kind of pain, what kind of sacrifice are you calling on beneficiaries to make?" Obama said he would make the system more efficient.

Of course there will have to be sacrifices to wring savings out of the system. The president chose not to delve into them.

Got that? According to the WaPo’s Kurtz and the top ABC/CBS White House correspondents, health reform means we’ll only soak the rich and reduce benefits for Medicare beneficiaries. Folks, send your kids out to play, because I’m going to reconstruct what those exchanges were about.

ABC’s Jake Tapper: Why aren’t you asking people other than the rich to pay for this, and what benefits will you take away from old people?

President Obama [Thinking]: [Well, dummy, you apparently never heard of the Bush tax cuts and have no clue that a tiny percentage of American’s wealthiest now have a huge percentage of our wealth and should give some of it back, but never mind that.]

The other reason the rich should contribute more is because everyone else already pays a hidden tax on health care, as the NYT David Leonhardt explained yesterday. That hidden tax is about $6500 per person, and we all pay it for the gross inefficiencies, fraud and and oligopoly pricing by concentrated insurance and provider markets. So ordinary Americans already pay $6,500 per person more than citizens in every other advanced country, but we get less for it and still leave 50 million uninsured. [So why are you defending that system, Tapper?]

But worse than that, your premise that only the rich would pay for reforms is stunningly false [and shows you haven’t done your homework]. Everyone is being asked to contribute; what do you think the debates about individual and employer mandates with "play or pay" are all about, [you idiot]?

CBS Chipper: "What benefits are you planning to take away from Medicare beneficiaries — those poor old people — to cut Medicare costs? Will you take away their wheelchairs and medications?"

President Patient: [Thinking: None, you ignorant clown; haven’t you read anything on this subject?] There is no proposal to reduce benefits to Medicare beneficiaries. None. [The Republicans told you that lie, and because you’re stupid and lazy and didn’t check, you just repeated it.]

We’re proposing to change the way Medicare providers are compensated so they won’t do unnecessary or costly treatments when better, less expensive treatments are available. When you do that, as Mayo and the Cleveland Clinics already do, while providing terrific care, then health care improves and the costs are lower. And by the way, the House bill closes the Medicare Part D donut hole. [Look it up, dummy.]

Hacktacular Howie: "Notice that the President ducks these wonderful questions."

Me: Uh, no, you duplicitous hack. This is why everyone thinks you’re a completely dishonest hack and calls you "hacktacular howie." He didn’t duck the questions, because the questions’ premises were wrong, and just Republican talking points. Instead, he sorted it out, and told the truth; but of course, you’re either too stupid to realize that or too much of a Republican hack to admit it.

Sorry if the kids saw that, but these pathetic excuses for journalists really are first class jerks, and they’re hurting the country by not doing their jobs.

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

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