Echoing McCain, NY Times' Harwood falsely suggested Obama and Clinton proposed "government-run health care"

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

The New York Times' John Harwood wrote that Sen. John McCain "prevailed over a field of Republicans who almost unanimously shared his support for the Iraq war, embrace of President Bush's tax cuts, skepticism toward government-run health care and opposition to abortion rights," while Sen. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton "both staked out opposite ground from Mr. McCain." But neither Obama nor Clinton has proposed "government-run health care"; the Times has previously pointed out that McCain has "inaccurately described Obama's and Clinton's health care proposals" by likening them to "government-run health care systems."

In a June 9 New York Times article, political writer John Harwood, CNBC's chief Washington correspondent, falsely suggested that Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton proposed "government-run health care." Harwood wrote: "Senator John McCain prevailed over a field of Republicans who almost unanimously shared his support for the Iraq war, embrace of President Bush's tax cuts, skepticism toward government-run health care and opposition to abortion rights. Senator Barack Obama defeated Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a Democratic race in which both staked out opposite ground from Mr. McCain." However, Harwood's suggestion that Obama and Clinton -- on "opposite ground from Mr. McCain" -- support "government-run health care" is false.

Neither Obama nor Clinton has proposed "government-run health care." Indeed, the Times itself reported in a May 3 article by reporters Michael Cooper and Julie Bosman that McCain has "inaccurately described the Democrats' health care proposals, using language that evokes the specter of socialized medicine" and quoted McCain asserting of Clinton's and Obama's plans: "[B]efore you decide to sign on to that kind of a program, go to Canada, or go to European countries that have government-run health care systems." Cooper and Bosman wrote that McCain's "suggestion is incorrect" and noted that "Both [Obama and Clinton] would maintain the existing private insurance system, providing government subsidies or tax credits to help the low-income uninsured afford premiums. And they would give consumers a new option to buy insurance from the federal government, with policies along the lines of Medicare."

In addition to mischaracterizing the Democrats' plans as a "nationalized health-care system," a "one-size-fits-all, big-government takeover of health care," and a "government monopoly" on insurance coverage, McCain has frequently accused Democrats of proposing "government-run health care" -- language Harwood uncritically adopted. For instance, in a June 6 statement, McCain said: "The wrong change for our country would be an economic agenda based upon the policies of the past that advocate higher taxes, bigger government, government-run health care and greater isolationism. To help families at this critical time, we cannot afford to go backward as Senator Obama advocates." In a May 2 statement, McCain said: "The wrong course for our country would be to follow Senators Obama and Clinton and their siren songs of higher taxes, bigger government, greater isolationism and a government-run health care system."

From Harwood's June 9 New York Times article:

Strange as it sounds, the first five months of the 2008 campaign lacked the most powerful force in contemporary politics: partisanship fueled by ideology.

Senator John McCain prevailed over a field of Republicans who almost unanimously shared his support for the Iraq war, embrace of President Bush's tax cuts, skepticism toward government-run health care and opposition to abortion rights. Senator Barack Obama defeated Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a Democratic race in which both staked out opposite ground from Mr. McCain.

Now those two self-contained conversations have given way to a broad clash of familiar product lines: Republican conservatism and Democratic liberalism. That clash has been obscured by the extended Obama-Clinton contest. But the huge stakes it carries for a discontented electorate ensure it will dominate the general election campaign.

The differences extend to every area of federal policy: troop levels in Iraq, America's confrontation with Iran, levels of taxes and spending, strategies for expanding health coverage, the shape of the judiciary, and social policy. As Americans focus on the Obama-McCain contrast, and millions of heretofore uninterested voters begin tuning in, the resulting crosscurrents could have unpredictable consequences.

Mr. McCain is riding a tide that has given conservative candidates the upper hand in recent American history. Mr. Obama is surfing a wave that has crested in opposition to the Bush presidency over an unpopular war and a weakening economy.

Posted In
Economy, Elections, Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Person
John Harwood
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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