Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Schultz, SCHIP And The Challenge Of Battling Misinformation

Unfortunately, if a lie gets repeated often enough, it sometimes gets taken for truth. And the right-wing gameplan, as we all know, is not just to lie, but to lie repeatedly.

The most recent example of letting George Bush and the American Taliban get away with a non-truth occurred today on the Ed Schultz Show. I have great respect for Ed's work, but today he played the clip of Bush arguing that SCHIP should not be given to families that make $83,000. What Mr. Schultz did not do was show that the lie had previously been debunked. He merely let people articulate their opinions on the health care program, as if that was the point of demarcation.

I contacted Schultz and hopefully he will clarify the issue on his program. I sent him the following excerpt from a larger piece found at Think Progress and included the link, as well:

"One of most egregious canards being propogated by the White House about the SCHIP expansion is that it will provide health insurance for the wealthy. President Bush claimed at a press conference last week that Congress “made a decision to expand the eligibility up to $80,000. He repeated it in his Saturday radio address:

"BUSH: Their proposal would result in taking a program meant to help poor children and turning it into one that covers children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year. [9/22/07]

"And the White House echoed the false talking point today in its official veto message to Congress:

"[T]he current bill goes too far toward federalizing health care and turns a program meant to help low-income children into one that covers children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year. If H.R. 976 were presented to the President in its current form, he would veto the bill.

"However, no such proposal exists. The $83,000 figure comes from a request from New York to cover children in some slightly higher-income households because of the state’s high cost of living, but the final Congressional agreement put the poorest children “first in line” for benefits.

"Center for American Progress health care analyst Jeanne Lambrew notes that the section 106 of the bill specifically ensures that there will not be any expansion of eligibility. “It overwhelming targets resources to low-income children and it discourages expansion to families with more moderate incomes by lowering the share the federal government will pay for such coverage.”

"Angered by the White House’s false spin, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) fired back:

"“The president’s understanding of our bill is wrong,” Grassley said, his voice rising with anger. “I urge him to reconsider his veto message based on a bill we might pass, not something someone on his staff told him wrongly is in my bill.”

"Bush isn’t concerned about doling out tax cuts to the wealthy, but the mere false pretense of the well-off receiving health care is enough to make him veto benefits for 10 million children."

Obviously, the lower figure will have more relevance and resonance, but my greater point is that we really need to aggressively fact-challenge assertions by Bush and the GOP before repeating their misrepresentations.

I look forward to seeing how Ed Schultz responds.

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