Media repeat McCain's false claims about Obama's health care and energy plans

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

The Washington Post, The Washington Times, the Associated Press, and The Hill reported Sen. John McCain's claims that Sen. Barack Obama is "offering government-run health care" and "an energy plan guaranteed to work without drilling," without noting that both claims are false. Obama has not proposed "government-run health care" and Obama's energy plan calls domestic oil and natural gas production "critical to prevent global energy prices from climbing even higher."

Several print media, including The Washington Post, The Washington Times, the Associated Press -- in two separate articles -- and The Hill, reported Sen. John McCain's claims that Sen. Barack Obama is "offering government-run health care" and "an energy plan guaranteed to work without drilling," without noting that both claims are false.

As Media Matters for America has noted, Obama does not propose a "government-run" health-care plan. Rather, his plan would allow individuals to keep their current insurance if they choose, or enroll in either an "approved private plan" or "the new public plan, which would offer benefits similar to what every federal employee and member of Congress gets." According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), federal employees are able to choose from "the widest selection of health plans in the country." A Q&A released by the Obama campaign says: "His plan will not tell you which doctors to see or what treatments to get. Under the Obama health care plan, you will be able to keep your doctor and your health insurance if you want. No government bureaucrat will second-guess decisions about your care."

PolitiFact.com has noted that "Obama's plan keeps the free-market health care system intact, particularly employer-based insurance. It is not a goverment-run [sic] program and is very different from the health care systems run by the government in some European countries."

Moreover, McCain's claim that Obama has proposed an energy plan that is "guaranteed to work without drilling" is false. While Obama's energy plan states that "with 3 percent of the world's oil reserves, the U.S. cannot drill its way to energy security," Obama calls domestic oil and natural gas production "critical to prevent global energy prices from climbing even higher" and proposes "set[ting] up a process for early identification of any infrastructure obstacles/shortages or possible federal permitting process delays to drilling" in Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Arkansas, and Alaska.

From the Washington Post article by Peter Slevin:

Obama offered details about his approach to issues such as housing, taxes, the Iraq war and energy policy. Between snippets of speeches and endorsements from colleagues, he spoke of his mother, who died of cancer, and said, "We've been talking about the same problems for decades, and nothing is ever done to solve them."

The program ended with two minutes of live footage of Obama speaking to 20,000 cheering supporters in South Florida, where he hopes to stockpile votes in a state in which polls show him with a slender advantage. As the national audience tuned in, Obama said: "In six days, we can choose hope over fear and unity over division. The promise of change over the power of the status quo."

McCain was skeptical, likening Obama to an infomercial salesman.

"He's offering government-run health care," the Republican told a crowd in Riviera Beach, Fla., "an energy plan guaranteed to work without drilling ... and an automatic wealth spreader that folds neatly and fits under any bed."

From the Washington Times article:

The McCain campaign dismissed the TV spot as a mere sales pitch.

"As anyone who has bought anything from an infomercial knows, the sales job is always better than the product," McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said. "Buyer beware."

On the stump, the Republican candidate himself mocked Mr. Obama's ad in similar terms, saying: "As with other infomercials, he's got a few things he wants to sell you: He's offering government-run health care, ... an energy plan guaranteed to work without drilling ... and an automatic wealth spreader that folds neatly and fits under any bed."

[...]

"We have to stop just talking about health care reform and lost jobs and energy independence and finally do something about it," Mr. Obama said.

He said he would pay for his plans -- expanding health care coverage, spending $15 billion a year on alternative energy projects, giving tax credits for buying fuel-efficient cars -- by cutting spending, improving government efficiency and eliminating failing federal programs.

From David Espo's Associated Press article:

Across 30 minutes, the ad blended views of Obama speaking in a setting that resembled the Oval Office, at the Democratic National Convention and elsewhere as well as scenes of Americans discussing their economic and health care troubles. His wife, Michelle, and his two daughters had cameos, and there were photos of his black father from Kenya and white mother from Kansas.

Obama wrapped up his day with a rally in Kissimmee, Fla., co-starring Bill Clinton. "We have so much promise and so much peril," the former president told the crowd. "This man should be our president."

McCain sought to blunt Obama's campaign-closing pitch, lacking the funds to match it.

"He's got a few things he wants to sell you: He's offering government-run health care ... an energy plan guaranteed to work without drilling ... and an automatic wealth spreader that folds neatly and fits under any bed," McCain told an audience in Florida.

From Jim Kuhnhenn's Associated Press article:

Besides the Oval Office setting, the commercial included views of Obama speaking at the 2004 and 2008 Democratic conventions and elsewhere, as well as scenes of Americans discussing their economic and health care troubles, and testimonials to him by politicians and business executives.

The ad showed his wife, Michelle, and his two daughters as well as photos of his black father from Kenya and white mother from Kansas.

Without the money to match the commercial, Republican rival John McCain sniped at the man and the moment.

"He's got a few things he wants to sell you: He's offering government-run health care ... an energy plan guaranteed to work without drilling ... and an automatic wealth spreader that folds neatly and fits under any bed," McCain said during a campaign stop in Florida.

From the Hill article:

McCain, speaking in the battleground state of Florida, compared Obama's ad to other televised half-hour product infomercials, accusing Obama of attempting to sell liberal economic policies to American voters.

"As with other infomercials, he's got a few things he wants to sell you: He's offering government-run health care, an energy plan guaranteed to work without drilling and an automatic wealth spreader that folds neatly and fits under any bed," McCain said, according to his prepared remarks.

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