Bill O'Reilly seized on the story of a shoeless man who was helped by a New York City police officer to call for cuts to government programs that help the poor.
O'Reilly opened his Thursday show by recounting an incident in November in which Officer Lawrence DePrimo bought a pair of boots for Jeffrey Hillman, a man in Times Square who had bare feet. A tourist took a picture of the DePrimo giving the boots to Hillman, and the image was widely circulated on the Internet.
While Hillman was initially said to be homeless, it has since been reported that he has an apartment. O'Reilly presented this fact as if it were a devastating revelation -- "here's the sad truth," he said before informing his viewers that Hillman has a home. O'Reilly also claimed that Hillman "has enough resources to live his life in a dignified manner."
What O'Reilly did not tell his viewers is that Hillman was homeless prior to last year. Nor did O'Reilly mention that Hillman uses veterans benefits to help keep his apartment.
NBC New York reported, "Hillman used to be homeless, but entered shelter in 2009 before moving into an apartment secured by Veterans Affairs in 2011, city officials said. He pays his rent using a lifetime voucher for homeless veterans and his Social Security income."
O'REILLY: Obviously, Officer DePrimo is a patriot, but here's the sad truth. Mr. Hillman's not homeless. He has an apartment, paid for by you and me. He's on government assistance. He has enough resources to live his life in a dignified manner. Yet Mr. Hillman doesn't do that. He prefers the street. And the boots Officer DePrimo have gave him have disappeared. Now, I'm not judging Hillman. Most cases like his involve substance abuse or mental illness. However, we must be honest. The government cannot provide a decent life for Hillman, no matter how much money it spends. We're already giving the guy tens of thousands of dollars a year, and it is doing nothing. There are millions of Americans like Jeffrey Hillman, and we all need to understand that some people simply will not -- will not -- save themselves.
While O'Reilly claimed not to be "judging" Hillman because most "cases like his involve substance abuse or mental illness," he began the segment by saying that "[a]ll of us need to wise up, and fast," and went on to use his abridged version of Hillman's story to demand cuts to entitlement programs.
Ted Nugent called for the suspension of the right to vote for "any American who is on welfare" as part of his proposal to reduce federal budget deficits outlined in his latest Washington Times column.
The National Rifle Association board member also called for "slaughtering the three sacred entitlement cows" of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and called for tax increases on "the nearly 50 percent of Americans who pay zero federal income taxes." Nugent wrote that these policies should be instituted "before taxes are raised on the producers, which will further choke the economy."
From Nugent's column:
The three sacred entitlement cows in the room that no politician wants to poke are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A blinding statement of the obvious is that we are never going to get our financial house in order until these sacred entitlement cows are not only poked, but slaughtered. Until the slaughter is over, everything else is just taxation window dressing.
In addition to slaughtering the three sacred entitlement cows that consume a vast majority of the federal budget (and I use the term budget generously), let's truly spread the pain around and raise taxes on everyone, including the nearly 50 percent of Americans who pay zero federal income taxes. Those Americans need to have some skin in the game, too. I recommend at least a 5 percent federal income tax bracket for them. The insane free ride needs to end. [...]
Let's also stop the insanity by suspending the right to vote of any American who is on welfare. Once they get off welfare and are self-sustaining, they get their right to vote restored. No American on welfare should have the right to vote for tax increases on those Americans who are working and paying taxes to support them. That's insane. [...]
It shouldn't take a Motown guitar slayer to come up with these common-sense bargaining chips before taxes are raised on the producers, which will further choke the economy. How about it, GOP?
Major newspapers in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Nevada have urged their governors to reject expansion of Medicaid -- the shared state-federal program that provides health care coverage to low income Americans -- under the Affordable Care Act, citing high costs that they claim would add to the states' financial burdens. In fact, a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that the Medicaid expansion would substantially reduce the number of uninsured at little cost to their state budgets.
As governors continue to decide whether to implement key aspects of the Affordable Care Act, the editorial boards of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Las Vegas Review-Journal urged the rejection of Medicaid expansion, while the editorial board of The Oklahoman applauded the recent decision by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin to reject the funding.
From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
As stipulated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Medicaid eligibility will expand to an additional 800,000 Pennsylvanians -- in effect, placing a quarter of the state's residents on government insurance, according to the Commonwealth Foundation. Never mind that Medicaid currently consumes 30 percent of the state's operating budget.
Once fully realized, ObamaCare will have all the appeal of a perpetual flu.
From the Las Vegas-Review Journal:
The accompanying Medicaid expansion, meanwhile, would throw millions of additional Americans into a system that's already bankrupting state governments and increasing costs in the private market. Geoffrey Lawrence of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, noting last week that Gov. Sandoval is pondering whether to expand Medicaid eligibility in Nevada, said any Medicaid expansion would mean reduced access to care for those currently enrolled.
President Obama won re-election this month, but the states hold the future of ObamaCare in their hands. Knowing the harm the law would do to our citizens, the economy, and the quality of American health care, Gov. Sandoval should join with many of his colleagues and decline to become the enabler of a vastly expensive, European-style medical rationing system that poll after poll has shown most Americans do not want.
From The Oklahoman:
Oklahoma has joined a growing list of states that won't expand Medicaid or implement state-run health exchanges, two key components of Obamacare. Predictably, the political left argues Republicans are being obstructionist. But why would state Republicans rush to implement a bad law to benefit a president who's made clear he would never do the same if the tables were turned?
As of June 2011, Medicaid programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia provided health care coverage to 52.6 million people. However, as the economy has improved, the rate of growth of enrollment in the program has slowed down. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government wants to expand the program in an effort to decrease the number of uninsured by providing coverage to those with an income below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Previously, qualification for the program varied depending on factors such as age or employment status. Despite the claims from these editorial boards, the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion provision will in fact achieve its goal, at only a slightly higher cost than what those states currently pay for Medicaid.
A recent study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that if all states expanded Medicaid it could lead to health care coverage for an additional 21.3 million people nationally with a total cost of around $1 trillion. Yet, the combined costs to states would only be approximately $76 billion as the federal government will cover the other $952 billion.
Specifically, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Oklahoma would see significant increases in the number of people insured for only small changes to their current spending.
In Pennsylvania, if all states expanded Medicaid, the state would see a 52 percent reduction in uninsured citizens, while spending 1.4 percent more on Medicaid than current expenditures when accounting for the savings in uncompensated care. While Pennsylvania's expansion costs are higher than some other states, healthcare professionals note that this is because Pennsylvania currently has one of the more draconian Medicaid systems in the country. From WHYY in Pennsylvania:
New Jersey is on the opposite end of the spectrum, with projected costs of $1.2 billion with an expansion. And Pennsylvania? Almost $2 billion over 10 years, even after accounting for savings.
"Pennsylvania has not expanded to adults whereas other states have," said Ann Bacharach with the Pennsylvania Health Law Project.
"If you're a single, childless adult, there is not much that the state can offer in terms of coverage," Bacharach said.
So the new enrollees covered by an expansion would add costs, but the federal contribution would not provide the same savings in Pennsylvania as it will in Delaware.
Meanwhile, Nevada would see a 44.8 percent reduction in uninsured citizens for only 2.6 percent more in Medicaid spending if all states expanded Medicaid coverage. As Media Matters has previously noted, the Review-Journal's editorial board has attacked the Medicaid provision of the Affordable Care Act while neglecting to note any of the benefits expanding Medicaid would have on their state.
Lastly, Oklahoma would see a 54.4 percent reduction in uninsured for only 1.9 percent more in Medicaid spending if all states expanded Medicaid coverage. From Tulsa World:
[David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute] said the governor's calculations also leave out savings to the state in areas such as health, mental health and corrections that are currently outside the Medicaid system but could be included with expansion. Savings to those agencies has been estimated at more than $49.4 million a year.
Also missing from the calculation would be tax revenue increases the state would see as a result of the Affordable Care Act, he said.
For example, the state has a small tax on insurance premiums. If thousands of Oklahomans begin purchasing insurance through a federal health insurance exchange, that tax revenue goes up, he said.
If every state adopted the Medicaid expansion provision they would receive $9 in federal money for every $1 they spend to expand the program. As John Holahan, head of the Urban Institute's Health Policy Research Center and the study's author, said, "It's hard to conclude anything other than this is pretty attractive and should be pretty hard for states to walk away from." Unfortunately, the editorial boards of the Tribune-Review, Review-Journal, and The Oklahoman failed to provide that perspective and explain the overall benefit of Medicaid expansion to their readers.
Fox News and conservative blogs are hyping a dishonest chart that shows employment decreasing while the numbers of people receiving government aid increasing since the end of 2008. However, an honest look at these figures would show that employment is on an upswing and enrollment in government aid programs has been increasing for decades.
The Weekly Standard and Fox Nation both put the chart, which is sourced to Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, on their websites. And Fox News aired the chart as well. The Standard said that the chart "details the alarming fact that enrollment in federal social welfare programs like Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Disability have far outpaced job growth over the last four years."
But this chart is incredibly dishonest. The chart uses December 2008 as its starting point, a date in the middle of a very deep recession. Employment began decreasing at the beginning of 2008 soon after the U.S. economy went into recession and was still decreasing in December 2008. But jobs have been increasing since in early 2010, resulting in the addition of more than 4 million jobs:
Furthermore, the increase in people receiving Social Security Disability benefits is not new. The number has been surging since the 1990s:
A New York Times article on Mitt Romney embracing the health care reform he passed in Massachusetts hid the fact that Romney has promised to repeal President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
The Times reported that Romney recently "talked about the health care law he championed as governor of Massachusetts" and quoted Romney saying: "I got everybody in my state insured. ... One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance."
But the Times left out the most important fact on this controversial campaign issue: If he becomes president, Romney plans to undo the law that will provide insurance to all Americans. He has proposed repealing President Obama's Affordable Care Act, which requires that all Americans have health insurance and has even pledged to gut the Affordable Care Act on his first day in office by granting waivers from the law to all 50 states.
Furthermore, Romney's plans for Medicaid would leave many Americans in worse shape than they were before passage of the Affordable Care Act. Romney plans to change Medicaid from a federal program to a system in which the federal government gives a fixed amount of money to each state. According to Bloomberg News, this plan would cut Medicaid by $1.26 trillion over nine years.
As the American College of Physicians has noted, the Congressional Budget Office analyzed a similar plan issued by Romney's running mate and predicted that it could require states to make "considerable cutbacks" in Medicaid. CBO stated that such cutbacks might involve reduced eligibility, reduced "coverage of fewer services, lower payments to providers, or increased cost-sharing by beneficiaries -- all of which would reduce access to care."
In contrast with the Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and The Los Angeles Times all reported that Romney boasted about his health reform in Massachusetts while simultaneously opposing the federal Affordable Care Act.
Right-wing media figures are heaping praise on Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget plan, with one Fox host calling Ryan "Mr. Budget." In fact, Ryan's budget plan would harm many Americans: It increases taxes on the poor while cutting them for the wealthy, drastically cuts Medicaid and other needed safety net programs, and would cost millions of jobs by reducing federal spending during a still-weak economy.
The New Hampshire Union Leader's editorial board attacked the new Medicaid expansion provisions in the Affordable Care Act and instead proposed a block granting scheme, but experts say block granting Medicaid would be detrimental to the most vulnerable Americans and decrease the quality of health care.
The Congressional Budget Office's annual long-term budget report shows that without any changes in the law, government debt will peak this year, then slowly decline for two decades. Despite this finding, many media outlets are emphasizing a "dire" outlook, while downplaying or ignoring CBO's finding that there is a path to a stable budget that includes maintaining the social safety net.
From the May 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the March 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the March 20 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the August 15 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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Maine Public Broadcasting Network* has been stung by James O'Keefe's fraud.
O'Keefe this week launched his latest dishonest claims of Medicaid fraud, with a truncated and heavily edited video shown at a press conference and accusations that public employees in Maine were helping a criminal hide his income and assets in order to qualify for Medicaid.
The claims cannot withstand the slightest scrutiny. But from the outset, it is clear that MPBN's AJ Higgins is running with O'Keefe's story without having done his homework:
By now the state Health and Human Services worker known only as "Diane" is probably wishing she had taken February 18 as paid time off. That was the day that James O'Keefe, with an undercover camera, walked into her office to apply for welfare benefits.
It is clear Higgins has not done his homework because the video does not show James O'Keefe walking into anyone's office. The video very clearly identifies the undercover reporter who enters a Maine Medicaid office as Sean Murphy. It took three minutes of reviewing the evidence to learn that:
A thorough review of the full video could have fully laid bare O'Keefe's hoax and avoided the kind of he-said/she-said journalism that gives him unwarranted credibility.
James O'Keefe is once again making completely false claims about undercover videos of Medicaid employees, saying that he has uncovered evidence of Medicaid fraud. But yet again, he has simply demonstrated that his tactics are fundamentally dishonest.
The latest video shows two women, identified as Medicaid workers in Maine, counseling a man who calls himself "Ted Ceanneidigh" (get it?), who claims to be an Irish fisherman, and who says he imports pharmaceuticals on a boat called The Bob Marley. O'Keefe claims that a Medicaid worker "coaches [Ted] by saying, 'If you can't prove income, you don't have income,'" which O'Keefe claims is evidence of Medicaid fraud and "government workers willing to aid people with criminal backgrounds."
In fact, the woman O'Keefe has accused of helping hide income and assets simply advised an applicant that he doesn't have to declare income if he doesn't earn any income, and she recruited a more senior colleague to answer more complex questions about income eligibility. That counselor, who identifies herself as Diane, aggressively questioned "Ted" about his sources of income and told him that he will be required to report that he has access to an account that is in his parents' name.
It's an astonishing display of hubris that O'Keefe is promoting this video as proof of Medicaid fraud.
James O'Keefe's latest "evidence" of "Medicaid fraud" not only fails to show any such fraud, it fully exposes O'Keefe as a dissembler who should not be treated as a legitimate news source.
According to O'Keefe, his latest video shows officials in Indiana "caught in [a] Medicaid fraud sting" involving a "wealthy Russian drug smuggler."
But at no point in either of two visits documented by O'Keefe does the so-called undercover reporter identifying himself as "Sergei" claim to be a drug smuggler. Not once.
During the first visit, a man identifying himself as Sergei claims that he employs his father, who needs to apply for Medicaid benefits. "Sergei" claims to pay his father $200 per month and insinuates that his father might be a babysitter. He also claims to have "people who work for us," "girls that work for us," and "shipment under floorboard."
"Sergei" never claims to be a drug smuggler.
During the second visit, the man who identifies himself as Sergei again claims to be inquiring about Medicaid benefits for his father. "Sergei" says that he and his brother give his father $200 each month "because he's our father," that his father "works for me and my brother," that his father is "not really" working anymore, and that his father might "sometime deliver."
Again, the man calling himself Sergei never claims to be a drug smuggler.
Yet here is how O'Keefe presented his latest sting video:
The reporter indicates that he is a drug dealer who receives "shipment in floorboard."
That's not true. It's demonstrably false simply by watching the video. And it's perfectly consistent with O'Keefe history of dishonesty.
Moreover, O'Keefe once again has failed to show any Medicaid fraud in his Medicaid fraud sting.