Bill O’Reilly had a spirited discussion with Dr. Jonathan Gruber last night. Gruber is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act who had previously called out O’Reilly on some of his distortions. Last night, as Gruber explained that the mandate is what makes health insurance affordable and available for people with pre-existing conditions, O’Reilly dismissed that concern by saying that “for the greater good of the nation,” those people should wait another year to get health insurance. Of course, he’s not one of the ones who will have to make such a sacrifice.
O’Reilly made the dubious argument that he doesn’t like to see the president called a liar (just pay no attention to how O’Reilly suggested Obama could be impeached over Obamacare) and that the best way to “get away from that” would be to delay the health insurance mandate. “Doesn’t it seem logical,” O’Reilly asked, “…to just give it another year and iron it all out? …I don’t see a down side in that.”
Gruber said that would undermine the most “important and popular part of the law,” i.e. eliminating insurers’ ability to exclude sick people and charging them more than healthy people. “You can’t do that without the mandate. You can’t have the mandate without subsidies to make insurance affordable. It all works together. You can’t have just the good parts of this law,” he explained.
O’Reilly responded in his bullying voice, “How many years have we had insurance companies not insuring those with pre-existing in this country? How many years? How many?”
Gruber said since “roughly the 1970s.”
O’Reilly continued in an even more belligerent tone, “No, it’s been roughly since the Revolutionary War, OK? That’s how long. And I think for the greater good of the nation we can go another year or nine months. Come on, Doc!”
Gruber replied, “It’s easy for you to say but you’re not someone who’s living every day with the risk of going bankrupt or dying because you don’t have insurance coverage.”
Indeed. And you could also say that for the “greater good of the nation,” people like O’Reilly could stop bellyaching about a law that was passed three years ago and upheld by the Supreme Court, let the program unfold and try to make it work.
But no, O’Reilly interrupted again to say, “I’m talking about the greater good, I’m talking about the greater good, OK? I understand there’s suffering and if there’s any way that I, personally can alleviate it, I will. I give beaucoup money to charity.” He claimed – despite acknowledging that the evidence is not in – that “the suffering” the law is causing “is much more intense than the help it is going to give.”
“That’s absolutely wrong,” Gruber said.
So I tell you what, folks. If there’s anybody out there who’s having trouble getting health insurance or having trouble paying for it because you have a pre-existing condition, why don’t you just write to Bill at email@example.com, tell him you'll forgo ObamaCare for the good of the nation and ask him to pay your insurance premiums in the meanwhile. Feel free to forward your emails and/or any responses you get to us and I’ll post them.
Let me see if I understand him correctly. He wants to shut down as much of the ACA as possible and essentially keep it unfunded for another year, with maybe a small number of people signing up here and there. And then, pray tell, what might happen in 2014, when it comes up again. That’s right, there’s a midterm election. An election that O’Reilly is banking on the GOP doing better than expected in, so that they somehow get a majority in the Senate. And then, what do you know? This new hypothetical GOP congress votes to REPEAL the entire ACA, laughing all the way as they do so.
This is why you have to watch what these guys say very closely. O’Reilly has been cannily playing both sides of the fence here, but his true bias has been showing through much more strongly than I think he realizes.
O’Reilly keeps trying to play the reasoned, middle of the road approach for GOP pundits: Let’s just put the brakes on, let’s try to find a compromise solution here. Except that he’s also been hectoring as loud as he could that the law is already “NOT WORKING!” and “a FAILURE!” and “it’s HURTING THE FOLKS, CAN’T YOU SEE THAT???!!!”. So if you follow his narrative, you’d conclude that the ACA is just a disaster, but very reasonable, sage O’Reilly would have you just give it another year to get worked out. And of course, next year, O’Reilly will then argue that “Look, it didn’t work out, nobody wants it, Congress should do the right thing and REPEAL it. And that’s the memo.”
And we should keep in mind that O’Reilly cloaks the whole discussion in heavily anti-Obama sentiments. He suggests that Obama should be impeached for not parsing his words overly carefully about what plans people could keep. (Of course, if Obama had actually given all the caveats for people who had flimsy plans or about craven insurers playing games, O’Reilly would have been the first to seize on that and scream that “the folks” wouldn’t want something that needs so much explanation.) He presents a false narrative about what happened with Syria, presuming that the diplomatic success there was some kind of failure, he repeatedly tries to allege false things about the IRS matter, and when all else fails, he goes running back to the myths about the attack on the Benghazi consulate. All of which fits directly in with the Fox News meme of trying to establish a historical record of President Obama as being some kind of a failure.
And we shouldn’t forget O’Reilly’s enraged rant about how Americans should have voted for Mitt Romney and that they’re getting what they deserved in re-electing President Obama. (Which fits in with Hannity’s statements about how Mitt Romney is the man who SHOULD have been elected in 2012.) That actually ties in with the predictions that O’Reilly was making for more than a year before the 2012 election – that Obama could not and should not be re-elected. Like the rest of Fox News, O’Reilly was furious to see the actual results as they happened. He and the rest of the right wing pundits effectively blamed the electorate (“the low information voters”, “people who want free stuff”, etc) for not letting the right wing have their way. It seems that they’re not done with this idea yet, as futile as it’s been for them.
A final note – Fox News regularly focuses on dropping approval ratings for President Obama, which is to be expected given all the brouhaha about the ACA and all the consistently negative coverage from right wing media. But they also consistently ignore a few basic facts while they are doing so. First, they ignore that the Congressional approval numbers are horrifying, and should be causing the GOP to be a lot more worried than they are willing to publicly admit. Second, they ignore that with the polarization of this country, it’s unlikely you’ll see President Obama get over 50 percent approval at any time – the GOP responders will always give him a “NO!” when asked – which means what you’re really looking at is whether a smaller fraction of Dems and independents are unhappy with this or that latest issue. And those numbers go up and down all the time. Third, it’s interesting that the GOP once again turns to Gallup for the lowest number they could find. Except that they forget to note that Gallup, along with Rasmussen, predicted a Mitt Romney victory when the facts were plainly going the other way last year. I would take their numbers with a grain of salt before believing them – at least for another few election cycles, to give them time to re-establish some credibility. If anyone wants to look at REAL low approval ratings, check out the really scary ones that George W. Bush had before he left office and left the country’s economy in wreckage in 2008. But I don’t recall Fox News trumpeting those numbers – I seem to remember the Fox pundits challenging anyone who presented them. I wonder what the difference is now. Isn’t Fox News supposed to be “Fair and Balanced”?
“I’m sure you’re gonna set the example by going without health insurance for a year yourself — right, BillO?”
LMAO! Dear mj — you’ll see pigs flying before that happens.
I’m sure you’re gonna set the example by going without health insurance for a year yourself — right, BillO?
As satisfying as it’d be to watch Jesse Watters finally get his over that, I’d rather it be Bill himself.
2) O’Reilly has almost as bad a record as Hannity on not keeping his word- He either rewords his agreement to give them the crappiest outcome possible (and acts like a hero for it)… Or he pretends it never happens, welshes, and goes after people who call him on it.
How about I just not give him my contact info and save the headache?
And that’s the word.
But to make it more interesting, President Obama should delay Obamacare 1 year for every minute Hannity or Bildo can withstand a waterboarding.
Ya know….for the good of the country.