Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Art of Framing at NPR

There are many ways you could frame the role of Senator Kent Conrad, one of the gang of six senators who are working very hard to preserve the profitable dominance of private health insurance in the US. A report marvel at why six senators representing less than 3% of the US population is controlling the fate of health insurance reform. A serious report might look at the obscene amounts of campaign cash flowing into these senators coffers from the for-profit health insurance industry and its allies.

Ah but not on NPR. Yesterday, on Friday's ATC Andrea Seabrook explains Kent Conrad's opposition to the pubic option and offer of health insurance co-ops as the result of his expertise on fighting government deficits and his commitment to centrism and bipartisanship.

Before introducing Seabrook's report, Siegel sets the tone, "Conrad's focus on the deficits and debt makes him a pivotal figure in the health care debate." After that it's all Seabrook:

"he's keenly aware of the long-term problems the United States faces when it comes to government spending and the national debt. And when it comes to health care? Conrad sees big, new problems with the idea of big, new government programs."

"Democratic leaders could ram a health care bill through the Senate; they'd have to use a special set of rules known as reconciliation. Conrad knows this; he just thinks it's a terrible idea."

"Now, because Conrad is at the nexus of budget expertise and political centrism, Senate Democratic leaders and committee chairs asked him to devise a plan that could pass the Senate and get some Republican votes."

"Health care co-ops would be to private insurance companies what credit unions are to private banks. The co-op would provide health insurance, but it would be a nonprofit business owned by its members. A big plus, says Conrad, they'd be a lot cheaper in the long-term. The idea already has support from centrists of both parties."

"He could end up being the guy who represented the rational middle or the guy who killed real reform."
There's just one little, tiny problem with all this emphasis on expertise, budget deficits and BIG, NEW PROBLEMS, great co-ops, and winning Republican votes: it doesn't wash. First there is no consensus that deficit spending is a bad thing. As far as the danger of a BIG, NEW GOVERNMENT PROGRAM costing sooooo much more money than what we've got - that's a factually challenged assertion, too. But Health Insurance Co-ops are a good thing, like Credit Unions, right? Wrong, they are a sham. Well, at least the bit about getting Republicans on board makes sense, yes? Wrong again.


geoff said...

‘Gang of Six’ Not Quite the Voice of The Nation

This is what is sometimes called the "democracy deficit." 12% of the Senate represents only 2.75% if the people and control the outcome of the vote.

Anonymous said...

six senators representing less than 3% of the US population"

I'd like to see the US Senate abolished entirely, perhaps through a Constitutional amendment passed by state legislatures.

It's really rather absurd that a group of 100 (primarily) old, white farts should have such a stranglehold over our country.

The Senator's in my own state (Lieberman and Dodd) are a disgrace.

They represent the rich (of which there are certainly a lot here in CT). Most of the bankers who got bailed out live here.

We (the people of CT) tried to give Lieberman the boot, but he got re-elected by the Republicans here.

We'll try the same with Dodd this fall, but I am not hopeful.

He's one of the old farts with lots of money backing him (banking industry as just one example)

Anonymous said...

I should add 2 key adjectives:


It's really rather absurd that a group of 100 (primarily) old, white, privileged farts should have such a stranglehold over our country.

Senators are largely arrogant, spoiled Ivy league brats who have had everything in life handed to them on a silver platter.

You know, the Yalie Skull and Bones dirtbags.

With a few notable exceptions (Kennedy) they could not give a rats ass for ordinary Americans.

Anonymous said...


"male" was the other adjective

Anonymous said...

I wonder when NPR will get around to discussing the Bush use of "reconciliation"?

On the plus side, due to weather I have been unable to listen to WHYY so I get to snipe from their own web-site.
There was a discussion about drug use by aging boomers and since I am both I posted a rebuttal. Will be amazed if it stays since I guess one could argue that I was admitting to certain crimes in order to put my answer "in context" so to speak.


Hubertg said...

'Tis a shame that Congress is filled with these 'Gang of Six' types and 'we the people' are offered so little to vote for in the form of decent representation.
In my opinion, they are all bought and sold to begin with.

I am with Iacocca on this one...throw ALL the bums out, but then what takes their place?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "bought and sold"

"If Senator Tim Johnson ascends to the chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee, the biggest winners will be Wall Street, pay-day lenders and credit card companies. The biggest losers: widows and orphans." -- from "Banks' Favorite Dem Set To Chair Banking Committee" by Ryan Grim

"Johnson cast a key vote with the banks earlier this year, rejecting an important effort by Senate Democrats to allow homeowners to renegotiate mortgages under the protection of bankruptcy. The "cramdown" measure fell 15 votes short of overcoming a Republican filibuster."

"According to Center for Responsive Politics, Johnson took roughly $1.5 million from finance, real estate and insurance industry from 2003 to 2008. That's well less than Dodd -- but it represents a fifth of all his campaign cash."

Hubertg said...

It's all OK Anon....I lived through the sixties too.

And, I must say that it appears that Mr. Johnson is doing OK too...
in more ways than one. Sadly, it also appears that Congress has gone the route of "Off with their heads and let them eat cake."