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Fox News "Asks" If Obama Health Plan Puts Us "One Step Closer To The United Socialist States Of America"

Reported by Ellen - July 20, 2009 -

Written by Brian and Ellen

On Saturday’s (7/18/09) Bulls & Bears, host Brenda Buttner “asked” if the White House plan put us “one step closer to the United Socialist States of America.” Liberal guest Mike Papantonio did a terrific job not only in combating the spin from the unbalanced panel but he managed to seize control of and reframe the discussion so as to put the conservatives on defense. Papantonio is our latest top dog. With video.

Conservative Gary B. Smith said, "It sounds like hyperbole, but absolutely,” we are turning into the “USSA,” as Buttner put it. “ Look, … I can understand the government wanting to offer health insurance as an alternative, even though they haven't managed any health business effectively so far." Comment: Ever heard of Medicare and Medicaid, Gary?

He described the "everyone must sign on" provision of the proposed plan as being "ridiculous." And as if there hadn’t been enough fear mongering, he added, “They’ll probably close the borders, won’t let anyone leave… because they need the tax revenues.”

Papantonio responded, "Well, it's almost like Gary has never heard of the American Department of Veterans Affairs, I mean, it's been a socialized system we've had for decades."

Gary Smith interrupted to shout, "Yeah, look at how great they've run those hospitals, Mike! Just fantastic!”

Papantonio continued, "They've run 150 medical centers, they've run 140 nursing homes, they've employed 55,000 nurses, 14,000 doctors, and Gary B here doesn't have any faith in government. Taxpayers pay into that system, and you know what Gary? This might be a big shock to you but the truth is Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Canada, all of those countries have the exact same system that we use for the American Dept. of Veterans Affairs. That might be a shock, but it's working."

Buttner jumped in with the not so impartial statement, "Most of the countries that he named, Joey B, are socialist countries."

Joe Battapaglia was whom Buttner was addressing so cozily, a guest who looks upon health insurance as a “possible” privilege. “That’s exactly right,” he said. "…Now you're turning what could be a privilege into an obligation. You're forcing employers to do and behave in a way to mend to the government, and at the same time you're forcing individuals to sign off for health care whether they want to or not."

Pat Dorsey was the first regular on this “business show” to point out the economics. "We pay more for health care as a percentage of GDP than any other nation on the planet, and our outcomes, frankly, stink… If you look at every developed nation on the planet, the larger the proportion of health care spending that is public, relative to private, the less the country spends on health care as a percentage of GDP. THOSE ARE THE FACTS (his emphasis). Government involvement in health care – you may not like it – but it is the only way to get costs down, because you have a single buyer who crushes costs."

Toby Smith (Gary B’s brother) chimed in. "What you're (Mike) saying is you want a single-payer system that all physicians, doctors, surgeons are paid a salary." He called it "probably inconceivable how bad that would be for the United States." It’s worth noting he never put forth an alternate plan to increase coverage and reduce costs.

Here’s where Papantonio took the ball and ran with it. Instead of defending Obama’s plan or the VA (like most Democratic “strategists” usually do when under attack on Fox) he went on the offensive by changing the subject slightly, saying, “What we have to do under this plan is we have to get control over greed… Nobody wants to talk about the fact we're letting an industry make $90 billion dollars a year, the pharmaceutical industry by taking a $2 pill and charging $50 for it. Now let me tell you, the VA tells them, ‘You can’t charge $50 for that pill. You have to control prices, and that's what we have to accomplish out of health care reform."

Battaglia said the government would be "mandating price on the top end, and then on the bottom, rationing care to all citizens… You get the government out of this equation, you get more competition not less, the price is fair to everybody."

Comment: Completely wrong, Joe. Have you never had an insurance claim denied? Have you never had to pay a huge co-pay for a drug because there’s no generic? Or worse, pay an even bigger cost because whatever treatment or medication you need is not covered for some reason? For those who can't afford it, there's already plenty of rationing.

Gary B was so upset on the part of the pharmaceutical companies, Papantonio joked, “Let’s sell Merck, let’s sell Pfizer, Gary.” He noted wryly, “Gary, before he suffers from hypertension here, can’t go across the border and buy the pill (cheaper there).”

Buttner intervened on Gary’s behalf. "This makes him upset. And you know what? It makes a lot of Americans upset, actually, to be told what to do with their insurance."

Papantanio said, "You know the sad truth here, Brenda? For decades, wealthy inheritance babies have tried to scare the hell out of Americans by using the “s” word, for socialism, every time there's any attempt to have government involved." He added, “I’ve got to tell you something. It’s impossible to believe that government could have done a more pathetic job than Wall Street and the corrupt banking industry than they’ve done to themselves.”

Toby jumped in. “The actual core problem is the business model is wrong… which is they get paid to perform stuff, number one. And number two, people get this health care for free because it’s paid without paying taxes on it and they never see a bill… If you solved that problem, then all your fakakta ideas maybe would work.”

Buttner did not allow Papantonio to respond further.

Comment: Polls consistently show a strong desire for major health care reform as well as a desire for a public option. Funny how Buttner never mentioned that.