Misperceptions? Whose Misperceptions?

MSNBC reports a NBC poll that, it claims, finds that “Misperceptions abound on president’s health overhaul initiative.”

Leaving aside the problem of how there can be misperceptions of a proposal that does not yet actually exist, what does NBC/MSNBC think these misconceptions are? Here are some of the presumed misconceptions mentioned in the article:

  • “A plurality believes Obama’s health plan would worsen the quality of health care”;
  • “Forty-five percent think the reform proposals would allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care for the elderly”;
  • “Majorities in the poll believe the plans would give health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants.”
  • “… would lead to a government takeover of the health system.”

Are these the sort of conclusions that a news organization should report as “misperceptions”? There is heated debate about all of them. Critics make these charges, and defenders reply with charges, as the president just did, of bad people “bearing false witness.” Does NBC really think it is qualified to be the final arbiter of who is right here?

If it does, this article about its poll did not give anyone good reasons to agree. I’ve already weighed in on the “death panel” debate, arguing that much of the criticism is hyperbole but not a lie. Typically, this NBC report satisfies itself that there is no “death panel” in the bill, without even mentioned the proposed IMAC board, whose only reason for existence would be to restrict what services are provided. And here is what Nat Hentoff, no conservative, says about end of life rationing:

No matter what Congress does when it returns from its recess, rationing is a basic part of Obama’s eventual master health care plan. Here is what Obama said in an April 28 New York Times interview (quoted in Washington Times July 9 editorial) in which he describes a government end-of-life services guide for the citizenry as we get to a certain age, or are in a certain grave condition. Our government will undertake, he says, a “very difficult democratic conversation” about how “the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care” costs.

Would Obama’s reform (whatever it turns out to be) lead to a “government takeover”? Who knows, but it would if Democrats like Rep. Anthony Weiner get what they want, “an outright public takeover of the U.S. health-insurance industry.”

And why does NBC declare that it a “misconception” to claim that Obama’s reform (whatever it is) would provide coverage for illegal immigrants? Only this: “that nonpartisan fact-checkers say [it is] untrue about the legislation that has emerged so far from Congress.” Here, presumably, is one example, as reported by the Associated Press:

THE POLL: 55 percent expect the overhaul will give coverage to illegal immigrants; 34 percent don’t.

THE FACTS: The proposals being negotiated do not provide coverage for illegal immigrants.

For some reason what these non-partisan experts are say is eerily close to (a paraphrase of?) what Obama says:

The president said the bill would not provide health insurance for illegal immigrants, or as he called them, “illegal aliens.” “That’s not true. There’s a specific provision in the bill that does not provide health insurance for those individuals.”

Really? “Although the bill contains a section that excludes illegal aliens from coverage, there are no provisions within the bill requiring beneficiaries to show their citizenship status.” If the president and his party do not want illegal immigrants/aliens to be covered, why did the Democrats in lockstep vote down amendments in two committees that would have required verification of legal status before receiving benefits under the new reform? According to Rep. Lamar Smith (R, Tex), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, writing in The Hill:

The Democrats’ bill in the House, H.R. 3200, contains gaping loopholes that will allow illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-funded benefits. And these loopholes are no accident.

The legislation contains no verification mechanism to ensure that illegal immigrants do not apply for benefits. Republicans offered an amendment to close this loophole — it would have required verification using the existing methods that are already in place to verify eligibility for other federal benefits programs. But, when they were asked to put the language of the bill where their words were, in a party-line vote, House Democrats rejected the amendment to require verification and close this loophole.

The bill also leaves open the possibility that if one citizen family member is eligible for benefits, then the entire family — including illegal immigrants — is also eligible for the benefits.

If Americans aren’t already concerned enough about the astronomical costs of the healthcare proposal, this taxpayer-funded benefit for lawbreakers should sound the alarms.

In the House Energy and Commerce Committee,

Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) offered an amendment in the markup that would have ensured the laws barring illegal aliens from legally signing up for Medicaid would also apply to the new government run healthcare system that Democrats are determined to construct.

The amendment was defeated 29-28 on a party line vote, except that 5 Democrats voted with the Republicans in favor. And in the House Ways and Means Committee:

Democrats moved one step closer to giving free health insurance to the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal aliens when they successfully defeated a Republican-backed amendment, offered by Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., that would have prevented illegal aliens from receiving government-subsidized health care under the proposed plan backed by House Democrats and President Barack Obama.

The House Ways and Means Committee nixed the Heller amendment by a 26-to-15 vote along straight party lines, and followed this action by passing the 1,018-page bill early Friday morning by a 23-to-18 margin, with three Democrats voting against the plan.

The Democratic plan will embrace Obama’s vision of bringing free government medical care to more than 45 million uninsured people in America – a significant portion of whom are illegal aliens.

My point here is not that the truth of the matter is that Obama’s proposal (whatever it is) would in fact provide health care coverage to millions of illegals (and, by virtue of that coverage, attract millions more illegals to take advantage of it) — although I believe that is true — but rather that NBC, once again, has demonstrated unmitigated gall in presuming to declare that one side of a hotly debated political issue is guilty of “misconception,” on the basis of no evidence stronger than the assertions of those on the other side.

Say What? (3)

  1. Cobra August 20, 2009 at 11:35 pm | | Reply

    John writes:

    [quote]“My point here is not that the truth of the matter is that Obama’s proposal (whatever it is) would in fact provide health care coverage to millions of illegals (and, by virtue of that coverage, attract millions more illegals to take advantage of it) — although I believe that is true..”[/quote]

    Yes, and under Obama’s Proposal, Christmas will occur on December 25th.

    RIGHT NOW, an illegal alien can walk into any Emergency Room and get essentially free medical treatment. Ability to pay is no restriction. That was true under George W. Bush,Clinton, Bush Sr….

    What is this tempest over a tea cup about, other than to conflate the immigration issue with health care reform and inflame the ire of anglo-centric red-staters?


  2. superdestroyer August 21, 2009 at 7:12 am | | Reply


    Emergency rooms only treat acute problems. Obamacare would give millions of illegal aliens access to government funded care for chronic problems. A benefit would be that it would put Catholic Charities out of the helath care business.

  3. Estelle Weiner August 24, 2009 at 9:55 am | | Reply

    We do not want any part of Obamacare. Its a fraud and an excuse for bigger government and benefits for illegals. no no no….

Say What?