TPM News

It's a new evolution in the continuing saga of Fox's error-ridden chyrons. This time, instead of referring to some scandal-plagued Republican as a Democrat, they referred to Senate hopeful Joe Sestak (D-PA) as "Rep. Joke Sestak"

Take a look for yourself.

In fairness to Fox, the "O" and the "K" keys are pretty close together on the QWERTY keyboard. But given Fox's track record, it's hard not to wonder whether this might've been another Freudian keyboard slip.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)--one of the most influential health care legislators on Capitol Hill--has an explanation for everybody who groaned when he told a crowd of reform skeptics they were right to be concerned that Democratic health care reform would "pull the plug on grandma."

You see, he says, "[t]he issue is whether end-of-life provisions should be part of legislation that's about controlling health care spending, and which also creates a government-run health care program, as the Pelosi bill does."

Ah yes. End-of-life counseling is a good thing--but when it's written in to a bill that creates a public option (which won't cover seniors, who already enjoy Medicare) and is devoted to cost containment...well, people might begin to think that's a recipe for coerced euthanasia. So paying Medicare doctors for providing end of life counseling should be codified in a stand alone bill. Or something.

I'm going way out on a limb here, but maybe deathers think what they think because people like Grassley go out and tell them they're right to be afraid, despite knowing full well that House health care legislation won't "give the government such authority in deciding when and how people die."

You can read his full statement below the fold.

Read More →

Check out this new editorial from National Review, which openly praises the rationing of health care by the private sector -- but worries about the government doing it:

But there are many good reasons to prefer rationing by price to other forms of rationing, which is why we use it for most products and services. Those reasons are not limited to efficiency, though they include it. The rationing involved in a free market is decentralized, creating more room than a bureaucratic system for people to make different trade-offs. Hence most people do not think of it as rationing at all.

It follows that it is a deep mistake to imagine the wonders of greater government involvement absent rationing. Greater government involvement necessarily means that the government will play a larger role in the allocation -- the rationing -- of care.

On the subject of Sarah Palin's fear of government "death panels," the editorial simultaneously says this is a stretch -- but also that we should be worried about the government denying care to the elderly:

To conclude from these possibilities to the accusation that President Obama's favored legislation will lead to "death panels" deciding whose life has sufficient value to be saved -- let alone that Obama desires this outcome -- is to leap across a logical canyon. It may well be that in a society as litigious as ours, government will err on the side of spending more rather than treating less. But that does not mean that there is nothing to worry about. Our response to Sarah Palin's fans and her critics is to paraphrase Peter Viereck: We should be against hysteria -- including hysteria about hysteria.

The state remains a dangerous servant and a terrible master, all the more so when it is also our HMO.

Over the weekend, the White House enraged health care reformers by dangling the public option over the edge of a cliff.

On CNN's State of the Union, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the public option is "not the essential element" of reform.

And, at a Saturday town hall forum in Grand Junction, CO, President Obama himself said, "[T]he public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it."

White House Office of Health Reform Spokeswoman Linda Douglass sought to contain the controversy late Sunday, saying "nothing has changed," and that Obama still believes the public option is the "best way" to lower the cost of health insurance and create competition in the market. But that will come as little solace to liberals, who have watched the White House waver over the issue for weeks.

The administration has been all over the map on the importance of the public option ever since it became the main battleground of the health care reform fight, pitting liberals against skeptics and raising the ire of reform opponents.

Read More →

Public Option May Be Dropped The Obama administration appears to be getting closer to dropping the public option as a proposal, shifting to a co-op plan with a better chance of passing. "The president is going to continue to try to persuade everyone of the great value of having a true public plan," an unnamed Democrat close to the White House told the New York Times. "But at the end of the day, I believe he recognizes that there are other, arguably less effective, ways to achieve greater coverage, more choice, better quality and lower cost in our system."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will deliver remarks at the VFW National Convention in Phoenix, at 2 p.m. ET. He and the First Lady will depart from Phoenix at 3:20 p.m. ET, and arrive back at the White House at 7:35 p.m. ET.

Read More →

Obama On Death Panel Smear: "I Just Lost My Grandmother Last Year" At his town hall meeting on health insurance reform yesterday, President Obama fired back at the "death panel" smear. "I just lost my grandmother last year. I know what it's like to watch somebody you love, who's aging, deteriorate and have to struggle with that," Obama said, attacking those who would put forward "the notion that somehow I ran for public office or members of Congress are in this so they can go around pulling the plug on grandma."

Sebelius: Death Panel Scare Attack Is "Horrific" Appearing on This Week, of Sec. of Health and Human Services fired back at the "death panel" attack, -- but also conceded that end-of-life counseling is likely to be taken out of the bill. "And I think it's really horrific that some opponents of the health reform bill have used this painful, personal moment to try and scare people about what is in the bill," said Sebeilus.

Read More →

Obama: We Have Rationed Care And Bureaucracy Right Now In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama set out to debunk the attacks against his health care proposals -- and put the blame squarely on insurance companies with a vested interest in the status quo, who commit the same abuses that opponents of reform are warning against:

"If you're worried about rationed care, higher costs, denied coverage, or bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor, then you should know that's what's happening right now," said Obama. "In the past three years, over 12 million Americans were discriminated against by insurance companies due to a preexisting condition, or saw their coverage denied or dropped just when they got sick and needed it most."

Hatch: Town Hall Protestors Are Not "Un-American" In this weekend's Republican address, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said that Republican do support meaningful reforms in health insurance -- and attacked Democrats over their health care plans and for belittling protestors at town halls:

"I am disappointed about the attempts to characterize the behavior of Americans expressing their concerns as 'un-American,'" said Hatch. "Although I strongly encourage the use of respectful debate in these town halls, we should not be stifling these discussions. There is nothing 'un-American' about disagreements. In fact, our great nation was founded on speaking our minds."

Read More →

White House Butler Von Everett pumps up a basketball for the president.

White House photo / Pete Souza

President Obama in the Green Room.

White House photo / Pete Souza

President Obama, on stage with Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, talks about health care during a town hall meeting at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va.

White House photo / Pete Souza

President Obama with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

White House photo / Pete Souza

After meeting with the Columbus Crew, the 2008 MLS Cup champions, President Obama tosses a soccer ball.

White House photo / Pete Souza

President Obama shakes Rep. Charles Rangel's (D-NY) hand at a meeting with members of Congress.

White House photo / Pete Souza

The president gets punchy while talking health care reform with Nancy-Ann DeParle, Peter Orszag, Phil Schiliro and Larry Summers.

White House photo / Pete Souza

Supporters greet Obama at Macomb Community College in Warren, Mich.

White House / Pete Souza

President Obama warms up before throwing the first pitch at the MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis.

White House / Pete Souza

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) with the president in the Oval Office.

White House / Pete Souza

President Obama greets the Gramajo family, participants inthe Make-A-Wish Foundation.

White House / Pete Souza

President Obama welcomes the family of newly appointed FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to the Oval Office.

White House / Pete Souza

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) talks health care reform with the president. Joining them are White House advisors Phil Schiliro and Nancy-Ann DeParle.

White House / Pete Souza

Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and advisor Phil Schiliro meet with the president in the Oval Office.

White House / Pete Souza

President Obama attends a bipartisan meeting of freshman House members in the White House's Roosevelt Room.

White House / Pete Souza

Advisors and speechwriters speak to the president as he prepares to make a statement about health care.

White House / Pete Souza

Obama and aides talk health care.

White House / Pete Souza

Obama and senior staffers play basketball at Camp David.

White House / Pete Souza

The president congratulates students from the "Math Counts" program.

White House / Pete Souza

Country musician Brad Paisley performs at a White House event celebrating country music.

White House / Pete Souza

Communications Director Anita Dunn, Senior Advisor David Axelrod, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, President Obama, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs before a meeting in the Oval Office.

White House / Pete Souza

Although the audience mostly lobbed softballs (including one woman who just wanted to read the preamble to the Montana constitution), President Obama got a few of the tough questions he was reportedly hoping for at today's town hall in Montana.

One man, who identified himself as a "proud NRA member," asked how Obama planned to pay for health care reform.

"All we get is bull," he said. "You can't tell how you're gonna pay for this ... the only way to get it is to raise our taxes."

Obama responded that reform, which will cost about $800 to $900 billion over 10 years, will be two-thirds paid for by improving efficiency and cutting subsidies to insurance companies. The other third, he said, would come from raising taxes -- really, lowering deductions -- for people making more than $250,000 a year.

"There's nothing wrong with me paying a little bit more to help people that have a little bit less," he said.

Another one came after Obama specifically asked for someone who was "skeptical" of the reform plan. The questioner was an insurance salesman, and he asked why the president is trying to "vilify" health insurance companies.

"My intent is not to vilify the insurance companies," Obama said. "We want to make sure the practices that are very tough on people, those practices change."

He had, however, opened the town hall with remarks aimed against the insurance industry, saying, "We are held hostage ... by health insurance companies."

The ninth and last comment came from a woman who wanted Obama, "as a constitutional scholar," to hear the preamble to the Montana constitution, which she read. Obama thanked her.

Turns out Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who brought heat upon himself and his company yesterday by penning an anti-health care reform op-ed in the Wall Street Journal--has at least one familiar defender: Clinton special counsel, and Lieberman ally Lanny Davis.

"The John Mackey piece, which I actually helped him a little bit on, has really been distorted as often happened in the blogosphere where people have short attention span," Davis told me.

Davis represented Whole Foods in a case brought by the Federal Trade Commission, in which they charged that the upscale grocery store giant was engaging in monopolistic practices. Davis is a supporter of single payer health care, but, he says, disagreements with Mackey aside, Whole Foods is a progressive company that has instituted a strict cap on executive compensation and that provides 100 percent of their employees with health insurance. (Mackey says that Whole Foods covers 100 percent of premiums for 89 percent of all employees.)

Davis says the dust up over Mackey's op-ed is "an example of how we on the left start to mirror the extreme tactics on the right."

"He didn't attack Obama. It was an issues oriented piece."

In the wake of yesterday's controversial piece, health care reform supporters have threatened to boycott Whole Foods.