I have ‘Meet the Press’ TiVo-ed every week, but here is one I missed:
BUSH ON HEALTH CARE: THE SMOKING GUN!
By Matthew Miller
For release 04/23/2001
Tribune Media Services
‘Insurance Plan Would Help Six Million, White House Says,’ Washington Post headline, Friday, April 20
Tim Russert, I’m begging you. Ted Koppel, make ’em squirm. Jim Lehrer, get tough! Thanks to a White House leak the other day – a leak Team Bush obviously thought would make us think even more highly of their compassion – we’ve finally got the goods. Let’s go to the cross-examination – I mean, the videotape – the nation needs:
Tim: … Back again with Vice President Dick Cheney. Let’s talk health care. You’ve just issued more details on your plan to expand health insurance.
Dick: Yes, the president is very proud of this effort to help those who need health insurance. Tim, we all know how important health coverage is for any family’s peace of mind. I know it from the expensive procedures I’ve had myself recently. The president will devote $70 billion – that’s billion, Tim – over the next 10 years to help lower-income families buy good plans in the private market. We expect this will cover 6 million more people.
Tim: That’s very interesting. Mr. Cheney, I have in my hand a 94-page document dated Feb. 6, 1992. It’s entitled, ‘The President’s Comprehensive Health Reform Program.’ Do you recognize it?
Dick: No, but …
Tim: But you were in the first George Bush’s Cabinet – you do recall he put out a major health plan in 1992?
Dick: Yes, of course.
Tim: Now here’s what I’m having trouble understanding. There are 43 million Americans without health insurance today. You say President Bush wants to help 6 million buy coverage. But back in 1992, when there were 34 million uninsured, the first President Bush said on page 30 of his plan that he would help 30 million of them get insurance. Why does today’s President Bush want to help so many fewer uninsured Americans than his father did, even though more of them are in need?
Dick: Look, Tim, I don’t want to get into a Washington numbers’ game. We think the president has a very solid plan that will help millions …
Tim: What about funding – you’re spending $70 billion over 10 years, so that’s about $7 billion a year, right?
Dick: That’s right. That’s billions, Tim.
Tim: But when phased in, Bush’s father was proposing $35 billion a year. When you adjust for inflation since 1992, that’s $50 billion. Every year. Why did Bush the Father offer a plan seven times richer than the one Bush the Son is offering – when Bush the Father was facing $300 billion budget deficits and the son has come in with huge budget surpluses? Shouldn’t the American people think there’s something wrong with this picture?
Dick: Well, Tim, 1992 isn’t 2001. Different times demand different solutions. And we’ve learned from a lot of failed liberal experiments that throwing money just isn’t the answer.
Tim: What does this administration suggest people use to buy health insurance if not money?
Dick: Well, that’s not what I meant, Tim, if you’re going to twist my …
Tim: But wouldn’t you agree the problem is bigger now, and we have more money to address it?
Dick: Yes, that’s why we’re taking decisive action.
Tim: But how decisive is it for the 37 million uninsured Americans your plan, by your own admission, ignores?
Dick: Well, but …
Tim: And the $70 billion for health care is less than one-twentieth of the size of the tax cut you offer mostly to wealthy Americans …
Dick: That’s a totally different …
Tim: Dick Cheney, is that your final answer?
Dick (flashes villainous grin; he’s snapped): OK, YES, YOU’RE RIGHT! WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG, SMARTY-PANTS? WE’VE MOVED THE DEBATE SO FAR TO THE RIGHT, IT’S DIZZYING! AND NO ONE’S EVEN NOTICED! EVEN ‘LIBERALS’ LIKE TED KENNEDY AND JAY ROCKEFELLER FEEL THEY HAVE TO SAY THEY WANT TO ELIMINATE THE NATIONAL DEBT AND RAISE DEFENSE SPENDING BEFORE GIVING HEALTH CARE TO THESE FOLKS! AND YOU PRESS PEOPLE ARE SUCH FOOLS YOU CAN’T SEE WHAT’S HAPPENED UNLESS THE OTHER SIDE SPOON-FEEDS IT TO YOU! WE’VE WON! ISN’T IT AMAZING?
Tim: Next up on our ‘Meet The Press’ minute: Republican Richard Nixon proposes universal health coverage – in 1972. Back after this break.
Matthew Miller’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
© 2001 MATTHEW MILLER
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