Of FDL, deception, and the doughnut-hole

Many of you have heard of Fire Dog Lake.  It's an influential blog founded and published by Jane Hamsher, the infamous self-proclaimed progressive crusader who has made a sport of beating up on progressives like Bernie Sanders, making common cause with Grover Norquist and making the notorious Fox Noise Network her friend.  So I guess I shouldn't be surprised when they quote out of context a Washington Post article in their scorched earth policy to try to kill health insurance reform - and if they can't do it, at the minimum, to drag their proverbial nails across the chalkboard to make it really painful for everybody involved.

FDL published an article today, currently gracing its front page as the top post, quoting from a part of the Washington Post article that makes it look like Democrats are trying to sneak a larger Medicare doughnut-hole past seniors in the health care bill in the next couple of years while promising to close it over the next 10.  Here, have a look yourself.  The part that gets a bright tanning light shined on it?

The Democrats and President Obama have been clear that the "doughnut hole," as the gap is known, would disappear gradually over the next 10 years. They have not mentioned that Medicare patients would, according to House figures, face a slightly larger hole in coverage during two of the next three years than they do today.
Emphasis FDL diarist's.  Well, here is the full Post article, and it's worth a full read.  I imagine that the FDL diarist and FDL editors who put it on the front page are banking on no one actually reading the full article, but I think you should, anyway.  I know, how very non-progressive of me.  But I digress.  If you read on down the article, you will find this interesting paragraph that explains the above, and that the FDL post conveniently skipped over.
Under the health-care bill the House passed in November, people who reach the doughnut hole would be $500 better off next year than they would otherwise. But the impact over the next few years would be subtler than it appears at first for two reasons: The gap -- without any change -- is scheduled to expand each year, and the bill would fill it gradually. As a result, patients would face a larger coverage hole in 2011 and 2012 than this year, according to Ways and Means Committee data. After that, it would shrink more rapidly and disappear in 2019. [emphases mine]

Hmm.  What does all this mean?  Well, it's pretty self-explanatory.  It means the gap, under current law, is scheduled to expand each year.  The legislation that the House Democrats passed would make the gap $500 smaller than what it would have been otherwise.  In other words, the House passed legislation would start by slowing down the growth of the gap.  Then, in later years, it would get more aggressive and eliminate it completely by 2019.  But did the FDL diarist tell you that?  Nope.  Despite the fact that the diarist tries to obtain sympathy from her audience by pointing out that she is currently in the doughnut-hole (and on a personal level, I am very sympathetic to her condition), she never once mentions that she would be in an even bigger hole over the years she is referring to if the bill is killed.  Putting the entire article in context might hurt the war room image.  You do, after all, have to fix the facts to fit the policy (of killing the bill).  Or at least, cherry-pick enough to make it look that way.

Ah, but you say, what of the Senate legislation?  They don't do as good a job filling the doughnut hole, do they?  And you'd be right.  They don't.  But,
The just-passed Senate measure would narrow the gap halfway. Even before the bill was approved, Reid and the chairman of the two Senate committees that handle health-care issues said they would, as part of negotiations to resolve differences between the two bills, accept the House's goal of closing the hole completely.
These two chairmen happen to be the progressive champion Tom Harkin of Iowa (of the HELP committee) and the conserva-Dem Max Baucus of Montana (Finance Committee).  This is one place where the House is going to get its way.

But won't accepting the House version in terms of closing the Medicare Part D doughnut hole have a negative impact on the budget and therefore give the bluedogs another excuse to scuttle the deal?  Not according to the CBO:
Congressional budget analysts have not said how much that would cost. Instead, they predicted a savings of $43 billion over the next decade -- based on the combined effect of filling the hole and two steps the pharmaceutical industry has said it would take in part under the deal earlier this year with the White House and the Senate. [emphases mine]
Look, I don't have any problems with anyone criticizing the inadequacies of either the House or the Senate bills.  To be sure, the inadequacies are many, and the bills are far from perfect.  But criticisms must be based on facts and realities, not on gotcha paragraphs clipped out of a newspaper article.  To do otherwise is to insult the collective intelligence of the progressive community.

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