January 13, 2010

ProJo Ideology Identified: Healthcarism

Marc Comtois

With the ProJo editorial board's endorsement of Martha Coakley for Senate, it's become more apparent than ever that the ProJo editorial board has become a single-issue shill for health care reform at all costs.

Most important to us is that she is the candidate most likely to carry on the work of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy in health-care reform.
This really isn't a surprise. In October, after the death of the late Senator Kennedy, the editorial board gnashed their teeth over the "contortions" that Massachusetts Democrats went through to enable Governor Duval Patrick to select a seat-warmer, but legitimized it to themselves:
Mr. Kirk’s immediate duty will be to ensure that the Democrats keep 60 votes in the Senate so they can push through major legislation, especially on health care. That is why Massachusetts’s Democratic leadership went through contortions to change the law to get their man in there. We’d be happy to see health reform pass with his help, of course.
Yeah, it kinda stunk, you see, but the ends justify the means. Just so.

Over the past few months, we've witnessed them twist and turn with every permutation of the various, nebulous health care reform bills that weaved through Congress. First, while they didn't necessarily like the Baucus bill (preferring a single-payer system), they urged Democrats to be ready to go it alone because "[t]he stakes are too high to let political wrangling stop Congress from addressing the many flaws of our chaotic health-care 'system.'” In October, they did accurately portray the opponents of this nebulous version of health care reform at one time:

One is the principled conservative, or at least libertarian, view that the less government role in health care the better. Another is just old-fashioned bribery, in which some legislators take care of health-insurance and pharmaceutical companies, which pay vast campaign contributions and thrive from the current arrangements. And another is the worry among Republicans that the Democrats might get long-term credit for health-care reform, as with Social Security and Medicare –– two other very popular “socialistic” plots opposed by much of the GOP when they were started....

Of course as often is the case in the sausage-making of legislation, the public’s memory of the hypocrisies involved is dim — for instance, that while many Republicans now in Congress voted for President Bush’s $1 trillion Medicare drug plan (which had no stated way of paying for itself and was a grandiose gift to the drug companies), they now oppose plans that would offer close to universal health coverage to non-elderly Americans –– including kids and poor working adults, of all people.

Yet, setting aside the disingenuous implication that the opponents breakdown equally into these three groups, the ProJo's subsequent editorials have focused on the two worst factions--the hypocritical Republicans who previously supported the Bush-era Medicare hike (which many, many conservatives opposed) and the insurance company water-carriers. The arguments that principled conservatives have made for alternative plans remain unaddressed. Instead, the ProJo editors lump good-faith opposition together with the so-called hypocrites and bribe-takers. For example, they complained that "the public option was forced out of the legislation by Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman, an 'independent' who is quite dependent on insurance-industry contributions." Big insurance bad. Big government good!

Now, even as their dreams have come true and a purely partisan bill has passed the Senate and moved into conference (or whatever the House and Senate Dems are doing behind closed doors), the ProJo editors are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They've argued for the passage of anything, explaining that "the warts can be removed later" and, as an example, recently urged the Democrats to remove the special deal cut by Nebraska Senator Bill Nelson that would exempt his state from any health reform related tax hikes. Fine and dandy. Now we await the editorials on the numerous other deals cut by Senators and other interest groups that enabled the passage of this health care "reform" that the ProJo editorial board has pushed at all costs. Right.

For now, they seem content to blame the majority of the public that opposes this mess for our "vast willful...ignorance of what’s actually in the House and Senate health-care bills." Silly us. And here we thought we were opposing a pastiche of bloated government power-grabbing and special deals masquerading as health care reform. I, for one, am all for reform. But this ain't it and calling it such doesn't make it so, no matter what the ProJo editors want us to believe.

ADDENDUM: It's being reported (h/t) that the leaders of organized labor have twisted enough arms to get an exemption for "collectively bargained health care plans" that would otherwise be considered "cadillac plans" and thus subject to taxation that would help pay for the current health care reform proposal. I wonder if the Providence Journal will draft an editorial against this "wart", too? It seems like creating a billion dollar program that everyone supposedly wants requires an awful lot of sausage making.

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OK good,

Just let the record forever state going forward that the Providence Journal is part of the problem, not the solution. Good to definitevly know.

It won't matter, as Rassmussen has the race at a statistical dead heat, with Brown taking all the momentum. Looks like the good guys will take another win.

Posted by: Robespeirre at January 13, 2010 10:07 AM

Wait, isn't this the PROVIDENCE Journal offering an opinion on the MA Senatorial race? Why? When did PROVIDENCE move to Mass? I don't see the Journal endorsing candidates in Kansas, Oregon or even New Hampshire. This just wreaks of propaganda.

Posted by: Patrick at January 13, 2010 10:30 AM

It's not at all unusual for Projo to make endorsements for out-of-state races. In fact, under RI election law, a corporation operating in RI may not endorse any candidates for RI races. I ran into this while studying the issue for a non-partisan activist group. According to the lawyer with whom I spoke, the time, ISP account and electricity used to publicize an endorsement can be interpreted by the Board of Elections as an expenditure on behalf of the candidate, and as such is an in-kind campaign contribution. RI corporations are not allowed to make campaign contributions in RI elections.

Sounds ridiculous, is ridiculous. Perhaps it is no coincidence that "ridiculous" begins with "RI".

As do "rigged", "riff-raff", "ripe-for-the-plucking", "rife-with-corruption", and "rigor mortis".

Posted by: BobN at January 13, 2010 11:36 AM

Perhaps it's time for a rename:

Pravidence Journal

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at January 13, 2010 12:02 PM

That endorsement is not going to go over one tiny bit with the corporate overlords in Dallas.
That being said, it's good to see ProJo management show some brass.

Posted by: rhody at January 13, 2010 12:51 PM

You'd be surprised how far into Massachusetts people read the Journal. For quite a few, it's their primary paper because they're closer to RI, and spend more time here, than any significant city in MA.

Posted by: EMT at January 13, 2010 9:33 PM
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