NPR Blames Conservatives for Obama's Broken Promises

January 23rd, 2010 10:18 AM

Whatever version of healthcare reform President Obama gets from Congress will look nothing like the promises he made while campaigning.

According to NPR, it has nothing to do with Obama belting empty campaign slogans. Rather, NPR fired off a litany of conservative bogeymen, from Republicans to moderate Democrats to Sarah Palin's "death panels" to explain why Obama's campaign message has failed to materialize.

In an article printed Thursday called "Why Public Support For Health Care Faltered," NPR, in cooperation with Kaiser Health News, began with the assumption that President Obama really meant his dream of healthcare for all that would magically be free:

As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to pass a health plan with important benefits for the average American. For the typical family, costs would go down by as much as $2,500 a year. Adults wouldn't be required to buy insurance. No one but the wealthy would face higher taxes.

But a year later, the health care proposals in Congress lack many of those easy-to-sell benefits, which became victims of the lengthy process of trying to win over wavering lawmakers, appeasing powerful special-interest groups and addressing concerns about the heavily burdened Treasury.

Those with functioning memories recall candidate Obama's rhetoric being unrealistic from the start. All the way back in 2007, Politico predicted he would run on lofty visions of hope that were more about emotion than results.

Just after his inauguration, many liberals even awoke to the reality that his campaign had promised the moon with no plan to deliver. In March 2009, a writer for Forbes, sensing disappointment in his future, angrily accused Obama of "bait-and-switch" to get elected.

But NPR could not be swayed. Those sunshiny promises had just fallen "victim" to moderate lawmakers - and now with Scott Brown riding into Congress, there was one more easy target to blame:

Today, health care legislation is in serious trouble, lacking a critical 60th vote in the Senate following the election of Republican Scott Brown to the Massachusetts seat held by the late Edward Kennedy.

Of course, Brown is only a hindrance now because the Democrats spent an entire year with a supermajority and still couldn't get it done. NPR explained this away with three things:

Certainly, relentless attacks by the Republicans - as well as the Democrats' own inability to clearly articulate the benefits of the legislation - are partly responsible for the legislation's lack of popularity. So are crucial policy decisions made by Democratic leaders as they struggled to push the legislation through Congress, according to experts of different ideological persuasions.

So even though President Obama himself did four prime-time television appearances, 158 interviews, and 23 town hall meetings - not even counting the daily presence of his advisors in the media - no one on the left was able to explain the president's agenda in public. This phenomenon didn't seem the least big strange to NPR.

Then throw in the "crucial policy decisions" (which is NPR-speak for the embarrassing blunders of the Louisiana Purchase and Cornhusker Kickback), and NPR would have us believe that Congress is full of bumbling, hapless Democrats vulnerable to Republican attacks.

NPR then went on to whine about key social issues that had turned into "distractions" along the way:

Putting together complicated legislation is always messy, but the health care debate has been especially prone to distractions, setbacks, reversals and deal-making. For months, Senate Democratic leaders searched for a compromise that would bring at least one Republican on board while trying not to lose liberal Democrats who threatened to withhold support. The fight over a government-run insurance plan, known as "the public option," took so much time and energy that other issues were eclipsed. The fracas over "death panels" during the August recess fueled a revolt against the legislation. Abortion emerged as a potent issue that nearly derailed the legislation.

"The longer the clock's running, the bigger the chance you have for something to pop up and surprise you," says Peter Harbage, a Democratic health policy consultant.

Nowhere did NPR consider that Democrats had tried to ram through emergency bills precisely because the unresolved details would get in the way. Apparently when it came to government healthcare, Congress should have passed a messy bill that left abortion unanswered before it had a chance to "pop up" in debate.

By NPR's logic, one can only surmise that Obama's campaign platform would be realistic if no one asked tough questions, no one was allowed to stall, the Democrats were given a louder microphone, and Republicans didn't do any attacking.

In other words: his campaign rhetoric was never going to seriously happen. 

NPR finished off the piece by explaining that the "sheer complexity" of the issue led to "enormously complicated" bills that average Americans could not understand. It wasn't that Democrats had turned health reform into a boondoggle - it was just a natural result of highly complex issues the little people need not worry about.

If only those darn Republicans stopped scaring them with death panels.