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Fox Touting Bush's Health Care Initiative, Bashes Democratic Critics

Reported by Janie - January 25, 2007 -

During Tuesday night's State of the Union Address, President Bush announced his new health care initiative, which would use tax incentives to allow greater accessibility to health insurance. According to economists this initiative is full of holes, but you wouldn't know that if you watched "Special Report's" coverage of the plan during last night's show (1/24), which gave only the White House's version of its affects, and trashed Democratic critics of it.

Fox News Correspondent Brian Wilson filed the following report.

BW: "Most politicians agree something needs to be done to make health insurance more affordable and readily available. The President promoted his ideas on this front during the State of the Union Address. The Bush plan in a nutshell – whether your covered by a company sponsored plan, or whether you buy health insurance privately, no income or payroll taxes would be deducted on $15,000 of income. The President makes the case that's a pretty good deal for many people.

GB (clip): "With this reform, more than 100 million men, women and children who are now covered by employer provided insurance, will benefit from lower tax bills."

BW: "And the Administration estimates that a family of 4 making $60,000, buying private health insurance would see a savings of 4,500 bucks."

GB (clip): "And for the millions of other Americans who have no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private insurance plan within their reach."

Comment: For a segment that's supposed to be explaining the President's plan - the above is the entire coverage they gave to what the plan actually entails. Nothing but what the Administration itself stated, and no further analysis. It becomes clear with Wilson's next statement, that the agenda of this segment was not to inform viewers of what the plan includes, but to bash Democrats for not automatically supporting it.

BW: "Democratic leaders are not impressed. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid issued a statement arguing the President's plan will make things worse for millions of Americans. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said today, the Bush plan does not go far enough... But the editorial board of the liberal Washington Post characterized the Bush Plan as 'a healthy initiative', one that taxes the rich to help others buy health insurance. The Post's Ruth Marcus followed that up with a column calling the Democrats 'the knee jerk opposition.' Quote, 'Democrats…ought to be find ways to improve and build upon the Bush proposal, not condemning and mischaracterizing it.'

Comment: Wilson is selectively using these articles in an attempt to force a divide inside the Democratic party. Ruth Marucs may have referred to the Democrats as the "knee jerk opposition", but Wilson ignored why she said that:

"This sad situation is largely of Bush's own making. He is reaping the poisonous state of affairs that he helped sow for six years. So many of the president's policies have been dishonest and wrongheaded, so much of his politics has been slashingly partisan, Democrats would be crazy if their instinctive reaction to a Bush plan for fill-in-the-blank wasn't intense distrust."

After mentioning Senator Max Bachus' quote in which he states that the President's plan was a "good faith effort", Wilson turned to Karen Ingagni (who doesn't have the best history of being truthful), of American's Health Insurance Plans:

"He's definitely energized the debate, and we'll see others with proposals, and the whole concept of intractable policy questions is to put things on the table, get momentum, the President has done that starting last night."

Wilson finished, "Who would take the hit if the President's proposal would become law? Well, according to the Administration, it's those with company provided health insurance benefits that are worth more than $15,000 a year. By their estimate, it's the top 20% of all taxpayers."

Comment: Not one criticism of the plan was mentioned in the entire segment. According to The Nation:

"The President wants the federal government to begin treating contributions from major corporations to help cover the health insurance costs of their employees -- most of which were won through decades of organizing, struggle and bargaining by the unions that represent those employees -- as taxable income. In effect, workers who have quality coverage would be punished, as would the firms that provide that coverage.

The Bush plan's race-to-the-bottom approach to health care policy is being pitched as a way to encourage Americans who currently lack insurance coverage to go out and buy it -- and then to take advantage of an expanded tax deduction for individuals and families that purchase plans.

The problem, of course, while the Bush plan penalizes those who are insured, it does not begin to provide enough support for those who lack it.

Thus, if the Bush initiative were implemented, it would lower the quality of health-care coverage for those who have it while failing to provide it to all of those who lack it."

While neither side may be 100% accurate, Fox, the purported "fair and balanced" channel only touted the President's, using the White House's data, without mention of one single problem with the plan might cause, while using the segment as a vehicle to attack any critics of the President's plan.