Consumer Reports rebuked conservatives who misconstrued their position on Healthcare.gov, but that didn't stop Sean Hannity from repeating the spin in order to demonize health care reform.
In acknowledgement of the bumpy rollout of Healthcare.gov, the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) online insurance exchange, Consumer Reports spent the first weeks in October detailing updates to the site and guiding readers step-by-step on how to navigate the site's glitches.
The publication advised still-confused readers to hold off briefly on signing up:
If all this is too much for you to absorb, follow our previous advice: Stay away from Healthcare.gov for at least another month if you can. Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they've made. The coverage available through the marketplaces won't begin until Jan. 1, 2014, at the earliest, and you have until Dec. 15 to enroll if you need insurance that starts promptly.
Conservative pundits pounced on the language. Sean Hannity cited it during an October 21 rant against the ACA on Hannity as evidence that health care reform has been discredited, yelling to guest Ann Coulter, "Consumer Reports, Ann, they're telling people, 'Stay away from the website!' "
Consumer Reports never warned consumers to stay away from the website for good, as Hannity intimates -- only for a few weeks while glitches are ironed out. And the publication isn't happy with the spin conservatives are using to attack the ACA. Also on October 21 -- more than three hours before Hannity cited the publication -- Consumer Reports chastised mischaracterizations of their position. They wrote:
A since-clarified NBC News report on repairs to the website for the new federal health insurance exchange is providing fodder for Fox News to continue its denigration of health care reform.
Observers on all sides of the debate have acknowledged that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act's (also known as the ACA or Obamacare) insurance exchanges site has been bumpy. That website, Healthcare.gov, up and running since October 1, has dealt with many glitches due to the large number of visitors to the site and other technical problems.
But this fact does not permit news outlets to fabricate problems.
On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace kicked off a discussion of the exchanges with Republican Senator Marco Rubio (FL) by telling him, "The federal website for Obamacare is once again down for repairs this weekend."
But Healthcare.gov was not down for the entire weekend, as Wallace suggested. The Fox anchor's comment mirrors a misleading report from NBC that the network subsequently clarified.
On Friday evening, NBC Nightly News misleadingly tweeted that the White House would be taking down Healthcare.gov for repairs:
Fox News' concerted campaign against government social programs is not resonating with the American people, according to a new NBC/WSJ poll.
An October NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey determined that a majority of Americans now favor the government doing more, not less, to solve problems and meet the needs of the public. This finding runs counter to the Republican party's desire for limited government, as NBC explained:
As the [Republican] party has used the shutdown and fiscal fight to campaign against the nation's health-care law and for limited government, the poll shows those efforts have backfired.
And by a 52-percent-to-44 percent difference, respondents believe the government should do more to solve problems. Back in June, the public was split, 48 percent to 48 percent, on whether the government should do more or less.
The poll found that support for increased government intervention jumped during the 16-day government shutdown forced by the House of Represenative's tea party faction:
These results should be especially interesting to Fox News -- long before it was championing a government shutdown, the network was leading the charge against government programs and regulation. Fox has tirelessly demonized federal social programs and disparaged those they help, a campaign that does not appear to have had much effect upon the opinions of the public at large.
Here are some of Fox's most strident attacks:
Fox campaigns tirelessly against the federal minimum wage requirement for private businesses. According to Fox, any increase in the wage creates drastic job losses for small businesses and results in the automation of entry-level service work.
Some at the network have even posited that raising the wage rewards mediocrity.
In apparent attempts to downplay the necessity of the federal requirement, Fox argues that it's mostly teenagers who comprise minimum wage earners, not people expecting to earn a living, and regardless the minimum wage has already been sufficiently raised.
Economists disagree -- as the Center for Economic and Policy Research explained, raising the minimum wage has no "discernible impact" on employment, and in fact, wage increases often result in more jobs rather than less. Adjusting for inflation, the real value of the minimum wage has declined eight percent since 2009, a fact which drives growing income inequality and places an extraordinary financial burden on the millions of adults -- not teenagers -- who depend on these jobs to survive.
Fox News proposed that uninsured young adults should reject coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because they can gain it at any point after an accident to cover medical expenses -- irresponsible advice that could wreak havoc on millennials' financial futures.
Gretchen Carlson hosted Fox contributor Guy Benson on the October 11 edition of her new daytime program The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson to discuss whether young adults will sign up for health coverage on the exchanges. The two repeatedly suggested that "healthy" millennials may pay for coverage "they are not going to need," going so far as to suggest it would be more fiscally responsible for young adults to go uninsured until a major trauma occurs:
BENSON: If they say, 'forget it I'm going to wait, pay the relatively cheap tax and then if I get sick and if I get into an accident, then the insurers have to take me because I have a pre-existing condition,' it just makes more sense to do that --
CARLSON: You just brought it full circle for us.
BENSON: -- from a dollars and cents perspective. I'm not trying to make a political point there, I'm trying to make an economic point. And a lot of people are realizing that.
Benson's advice is not only wrong, it's dangerous.
While insurers are required to cover people with pre-existing health conditions under the ACA, coverage isn't available all the time. Those seeking insurance through the exchanges can sign up only during the open enrollment period, which starting next year will run from approximately October 15 -- December 7 annually. Exceptions are made for qualifying life events like marriage or birth of child -- not for sudden illnesses or accidents.
Young adults who opt out of coverage will be responsible for the full costs of these events. And when the average hospital stay or treatment for a broken leg is approximately $10,000 without insurance, footing the bill would likely be unaffordable.
It's not just Fox doling out this irresponsible advice to millennials -- conservative activist groups with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers have been running ads to scare young adults away from gaining coverage. At the same time, Fox has actively avoided acknowledging that many young adults are in fact eager to buy health insurance under new ACA provisions.
Following news that the government shutdown will bar the Pentagon from providing death benefits to the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan, Fox News is ignoring the role the network and the Republican Party played in causing the painful closure.
The federal government has been shut down since October 1 after House Republicans refused to vote on the Senate funding bill unless President Obama agreed to significant changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). To mitigate public outcry over withheld federal paychecks, cancelled food inspections and cancer treatment, and closed national parks, Republicans have attempted a piecemeal approach of proposing narrow bills to keep specific government programs funded, while President Obama and Democrats have demanded that the full government be reopened.
Fox News' Sean Hannity has been leading the charge for a government shutdown for the better part of 2013, repeatedly pushing congressional Republicans to hold the government hostage unless demands to alter the ACA are met.
Hannity, it turns out, was in good company. According to a new report in The New York Times, the tea party caucus in Congress and conservative activists have been planning the shut down over Obamacare since 2012. Financed by the likes of Freedomworks and the billionaire Koch brothers, the Times exposed how the congressmen practiced defending their shutdown by arguing they desired to fund the entire government, just not the ACA.
On October 8, one week into the government shut down, news surfaced that the Pentagon is unable to pay death benefits to families of soldiers killed at war in Afghanistan over the weekend because of the shutdown.
Fox reacted to this news by blaming President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). On The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, reporter Jennifer Griffin decried this "horrible impact" of the shutdown and argued that "the president should be asked about this."
Carlson and Griffin brainstormed Republican-backed strategies -- e.g., the pair discussed the feasibility of a piecemeal CR bill funding payments to veterans' families -- but they ignored any solution that includes the GOP passing a single CR funding the entire government.
Fox News avoided acknowledging that many young adults are anxious to sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act exchanges (ACA or Obamacare), even though recent surveys show that many young adults are likely to buy health insurance under new Affordable Care Act provisions.
During Fox's evening news program Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Jim Angle reported on this week's roll out of new state health insurance exchanges that were implemented under the ACA. After the prepared package aired, host Bret Baier asked Angle, "What do we know about the young and their inclinations to buy insurance or not?"
Angle dodged the question, instead answering, "Now we know of widespread reports their rates will soar over what they could pay now on the open market." He concluded, "We don't know what the young will do, but we do know the numbers they're looking at."
While Angle refused to acknowledge it, polls reveal many young adults are eager to buy health coverage.
A Reuters poll of uninsured Americans found that one-third of young adults "said they are 'very' or 'somewhat' likely to buy insurance through their state's exchange."
Conservative media viciously attacked Texas State Senator Wendy Davis after she announced her candidacy for governor, linking Davis to infanticide and calling an image of her with kids "sick" and "disgusting."
After repeatedly begging Congressional Republicans to continue the federal government shutdown, Sean Hannity is ratcheting up his expectations. He encouraged conservatives to leave the government inoperable for up to two months if that's what it takes for Democrats to acquiesce to GOP demands -- advice that would carry devastating effects for the American people.
October 1 marked the first day of a federal government shut down, as House Republicans refuse to fund the government unless Democrats and President Obama agree to significant changes to the three-year-old Affordable Care Act (ACA or "Obamacare").
Fox host Sean Hannity has spent the last year begging Republicans to hold America hostage and shut down the government over Obamacare. Now that he's gotten his wish, Hannity is ordering conservatives to keep the government closed, even if it takes "a month or two months." As he told Republican Sen. Rand Paul (KY) on Hannity about the shutdown:
HANNITY: I think the worst outcome, though, for the Republicans in the House at this point -- as they have been reasonable and the president totally unreasonable, Reid unreasonable -- is to cave. I don't think they should give in at all. And if that means that they're going to sit this out for a month or two months, or however long the president wants to be arrogant and not talk to anybody, then just sit it out.
The effects of a protracted government shutdown would be catastrophic.
After only two or three weeks, veterans' disability claims and pension payments to approximately 3.6 million veterans likely won't be paid.
Funding for the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC), which gives grants to states for low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and infants, will run dry after one week of a shutdown. WIC, which serves 53 percent of all babies born in the U.S. has contingency funds are available, but they will be exhausted by the end of the month.
Food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will run out of money to operate by the end of October if the shutdown is ongoing.
Importantly, this damage would pile on top of the chaos the shutdown immediately caused. After House Republicans forced the government to close, over 800,000 federal workers were furloughed and may not receive pay. National parks and landmarks closed. Many home loans no longer processed and economic growth will slow. The Center for Disease Control will cease some disease-prevention programs and most of the Food and Drug Administration's food-safety operations will end.
Unsurprisingly, Hannity is unconcerned by this impact, as it "doesn't impact [him] mentally."
Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol praised Republican efforts to force congressional staffers to foot the entire cost of their health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA or "Obamacare"), pretending any subsides Congressional staffers receive from their employer would be tantamount to "special treatment."
With the deadline to avoid a federal government shutdown looming, Republican Senator David Vitter (LA) proposed an amendment to the spending bill that would fund the government and avoid a shutdown. His proposal, passed by the House on a 228 - 201 vote, eliminates health care subsidies members of Congress and their staff will receive from their employer, the federal government, to help pay the cost of their coverage under the Obamacare exchanges.
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol praised the plan as an "extremely strong, political, and substantive" provision during an appearance on the September 30 edition of Fox News' Special Report. Discussing the possibility of a government shutdown, Kristol claimed:
KRISTOL: This is the best political ground for them to fight on ... They are getting rid of the exemption -- the special treatment for congressmen who get special treatment -- better than that of anyone else who's forced into the exchanges.
When host Bret Baier pointed out that even some Republican congressmen disagreed with the measure because they "don't think that their staff should have to feel the pain here," Kristol doubled down:
KRISTOL: I think the House Republicans are intelligent to insist on it, to prevent the Obama administration's change of it and to say, 'I'm sorry, there's no reason Congress or their staffs, nice people though they are, should get a better break than all the other Americans who are being forced into the exchanges under Obamacare.'
The "better break" Kristol cites is actually a special punishment targeted at congressional staff members, a punishment Vitter and House Republicans are fighting to continue.
Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Andrea Tantaros argued that if House Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling, the resulting default is nothing to be afraid of because, according to Tantaros, the country needs "to feel a little bit of pain."
Congress is currently facing a fast-approaching deadline to increase the nation's borrowing authority and approve funding to run the government beyond September 30. Failure to raise the nation's debt ceiling would cause the U.S. government to default on its legal obligations by the middle of October.
Thus far, House Republicans have indicated they are unwilling to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats acquiesce to a slew of demands, including, as The New York Times explained, "a one-year delay of the [Affordable Care Act], a tax overhaul and a broad rollback of environmental regulations."
Fox News has spent this week downplaying the urgency of the upcoming deadline. But two Fox hosts have now taken it further, arguing that failure to raise the debt ceiling wouldn't be so bad and endorsing the resulting default.
On the September 26 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity and The Five co-hosts Bob Beckel and Andrea Tantaros discussed whether Republicans would ultimately agree to raise the debt ceiling. When Beckel argued that the Republicans' gambit was too risky because it "puts the full faith and credit of the United States currency in jeopardy," Tantaros disagreed:
TANTAROS: We hear this every time, that a default would be terrible. And it would be. But what's the alternative? To keep spending? That would be terrible as well ... There's part of me, Sean, that does want us to feel a little bit of pain.
Hannity shrugged off Beckel's concern that a US default could "wreck the monetary system of the world":
HANNITY: You know what Bob, I think you overstate -- It sounds a little bit like sequestration. Predictions of doom and gloom, and none of it ever happened. The world isn't collapsing ... I'm really not that afraid of it. It may be naivety.
It would be catastrophic for the United States to follow the Fox hosts' logic and default on our debt. If the debt ceiling is not lifted by October 17, the United States government will be unable to finance the payment of its pre-existing expenses through the continued sale of Treasury bonds. Economists across the board agree this would send the global markets into chaos and send interest rates skyrocketing. Domestically, money for government employees, the military, Social Security, Medicare, food safety inspections, and much, much more could cease or be delayed.