There are several reasons behind incidents or episodes in which prominent liberals have stood up and refuted lots of the right wing talking points. One of the problems, as I see it, is that the right wing confuses the public and throws out so much garbage that your average person has some trouble distinguishing between reality and propaganda. The right wing has written complete books full of falsehoods. I’m not talking about books like Sean Hannity’s, Deliver Us from Evil, which is overly simplistic but his premise everyone can agree with. (Evil is bad. We should get rid of evil whenever possible. I don’t think anybody disagrees with this.) I’m talking about books like The Forgotten Man, which goes into great detail in trying to rewrite the failure of President Hoover and about the triumph (although it took a lot of trial and error) of President Franklin D. Roosevelt over the Great Depression. The book basically states that Roosevelt benefited from all of Hoover’s great ideas and implementations.
Exhibit A. — Michael Moore goes one-on-one with Sean Hannity. (more on this over at C&L) First, let me congratulate Sean Hannity for inviting Michael Moore on his show and giving Michael Moore an adequate amount of time to explain his points. As far as I can tell, there are no “gotcha” moments. Instead, Michael Moore slowly and thoughtfully makes his points. For the majority of the conversation, they’re talking about capitalism, which is the subject of Michael Moore’s new movie. To credit Hannity, he had all of the right wing talking points. Republicans pointed to Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act, enacted back in the 1970s. (Republicans ignore the fact that the central point of this act was to stop discriminatory lending practices.) Thankfully, Michael Moore, knowing his stats, stated that the FBI has concluded that 80% of the financial collapse that we are in currently was caused by Wall Street and their fraudulent behavior. The beauty of Michael Moore mentioning this was that he set Sean Hannity up. He asked a question that no conservative could say no to — do you respect law enforcement? Hannity had to say yes. Then, he hit Sean Hannity with this statistic from the FBI. Sean Hannity had to sidestep that. Michael Moore also asked the obvious question whether if Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act caused the collapse, then why didn’t we collapse in the late 70s and early 80s? Sean Hannity never adequately answered this question. Moore had a thoughtful and intelligent answer to each one of Sean Hannity’s talking points. This was more of a debate… less two people throwing talking points at each other and more of two people listening and trying to respond to each other. Again, I have to give Sean Hannity kudos because Bill O’Reilly would have never done this. Bill O’Reilly will turn off your mike and will shout over you.
Watch the Video:
Exhibit B. — Representative Andy Wiener (Democrat, New York) had a Lincoln/Douglas-style debate against former lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey. This debate was less civil but nonetheless still important. This debate was on healthcare. Remember that the former lieutenant governor McCaughey got roasted on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. These two people represent the extremes of the healthcare debate. Representative Wiener really believes, as do I, in a single-payer program (government payer). Betsy McCaughey believes that the system will fix itself, that there really aren’t that many problems and that spending on healthcare is okay. If we spend more, that’s okay. Representative Wiener has his stats and doesn’t back down. (more here)
Watch the video:
I would like to just say a couple of things about where we stand in healthcare reform. The insurance companies are trying to put an enormous amount of pressure on Congress to have everyone sign up for insurance. This sounds like a great gig if you can get it. For example, if you are a musician and a government mandated that everyone had to buy your albums, when that be great? Sure, it’s not fair to other musicians, or even other industries, but it is sure great for you. This is the game that the health insurance industry is playing. They have poured millions of dollars into lobbying and it hasn’t worked to stall this process for months. On the other hand, President Obama was extremely effective in reversing course. Public opinion in many different polls have shown an increase in Americans approving a public option.
The Congressional Budget Office came out with its report on the Senate Finance Committee’s healthcare reform bill. The report, which I’m sure will be highly criticized by Republicans, comes in well under Barack Obama’s target of $900 billion. It does not add to the deficit. This is good news for those who support Max Baucus’s bill. From my standpoint, I’m disappointed that we really don’t have any bill on Capitol Hill that covers all 46 million Americans who are currently uninsured. This bill will cover 29 million of the uninsured. I’m not sure that this bill goes far enough in trying to control costs. I’m not sure that this bill goes far enough in trying to improve government-funded research that will give physicians, like me, better information on how to treat our patients.