The New York Times knowingly published a piece of utter, pernicious bullshit on its Sunday Op-Ed page. Just so we're clear on terms, I defer to an expert to define "bullshit"...
“The bullshitter is faking things, but that does not necessarily mean he gets them wrong.” In contrast, the liar must know the truth, of the matter under discussion, in order to better conceal it from the listener or the reader being deceived with a lie; while the bullshitter’s sole concern is personal advancement and advantage to his or her agenda; bullshit thus is a greater enemy of the truth than are lies."Roll up your pantlegs and get a load of Ross Douthat's steaming pile of punditry....
First, let me establish a key premise of Obamacare, and the main reason I'm for it. Under the current system, someone can be laid off, losing her health insurance. If that person or any of her family members suffer a catastrophic health crisis, they have two choices:
1) Spend down their life savings on medical care, declare bankruptcy, and die. Or...
2) Die immediately.
Douthat doesn't dispute this. In fact, buried in 4th paragraph under a bunch of obfuscatory blah-blah-blah citing the results of Oregon's expansion of Medicaid, he slides in this gem...
After all, the first purpose of insurance is economic protection, and the Oregon data shows that expanding coverage does indeed protect people from ruinous medical expenses. The links between insurance, medicine and health may be impressively mysterious, but staving off medical bankruptcies among low-income Americans is not a small policy achievement.Soooooo......Obamacare will save lives. Thousands of lives. It will save families from ruinous bankruptcies, and pry them from the clutches of an uncaring, out-of-control medical insurance bureaucracy. Andn Douthat's problem with this?
This is true.
Ahhhhh...now we're in the realm of classic bullshit. He uses re-imagined history and verb tense magic to cast aspersions on liberal intent. Obamacare "was sold" by "judicious wonks" and "overzealous politicians" (??? -- they all looked scared to death to me) "that it would save tens of thousands of American lives each year." So the next argument must necessarily be that this new Oregon study proves Obamacare WON'T save thousands of live.
Ummmmmm...no. In class bullshit fashion, Douthat shifts the argument -- "The new health care law looks vulnerable to two interconnected critiques."
What are these critiques?
1) If catastrophic care is most important, "then shouldn’t we be promoting catastrophic health coverage, rather than expanding Medicaid?"
(Notice what just happened. A conservative, opponent of any form of government financed health care, is deliberately pretending that Obamacare doesn't feature catastrophic care, pretending that expanding Medicaid somehow negates it.)
2) The bullshitiest argument yet...
If the marginal dollar of health care coverage doesn’t deliver better health, isn’t this a place where policy makers should be stingy, while looking for more direct ways to improve the prospects of the working poor? Some kind of expanded health security is clearly a good thing — but if we want to promote economic mobility as well, does it really make sense to pour about a trillion dollars into a health care system that everyone agrees is deeply dysfunctional, when some of that money could be returned to Americans’ paychecks instead?Again, notice what just happened -- young right-wing Ross, deeply committed to fighting all forms of government intervention in health care, is now "looking for more direct ways of to improve the prospects of the working poor."
Really? Ummm, how 'bout by "not dying."
(Love the thing about "a health care system that everyone agrees is deeply dysfunctional." Really Ross? Ever listen to Rush? Senator Coburn? Tom DeMint? Why, we have "the best health care system in the world!!!")
What follows is perhaps the bullshitiest sentence in New York Times Editorial Page History:
It’s to the Republican Party’s great discredit that these policies and goals don’t have enough conservative champions at the moment.Wow. Drink that in, people in all its bullshity glory. "don't have enough conservative support at the moment."
Can you believe this? Ross, do, ummmm, ever read the New York Times? The stuff about the 'young guns' in the House itching for an utterly meaningless "show vote" to repeal Obamacare? Ross, what part of "CONSERVATIVES HATE OBAMACARE WITH THE HEAT OF THOUSAND SUNS AND WILL DO ANYTHING TO DESTROY IT" don't you understand?
"...in all likelihood we could be spending much less with similar results, and finding better ways to help the poor."Uh huh. Got it, Ross. So...
There's a 26 year old single mother in El Paso, Texas who works at WalMart. They won't give her enough hours to qualify for their health care plan. She's got a 4 year old daughter with a brain tumor -- surgery and recovery, all in, is going to be $600,000.
And your answer to her is that, rather than saving her daughter's life with the catastrophic care provisions of Obamacare, she would be much better off with...let's see your list....ummmm....an expanded earned income tax credit.