Nicholas D. Kristof

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  • 5 Questions CNN Should Ask During The Sanders-Cruz Obamacare Debate

    Blog ››› ››› CAT DUFFY

    Moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash should utilize the February 7 CNN debate between Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) on “the future of Obamacare” to ask targeted questions about the GOP’s plans to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how that will affect the American health care system. As CNN’s town hall with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) demonstrated, these forums can serve as opportunities to fact-check misinformation, but they can also fail to substantively engage on specific policy issues. Moderators should be prepared to pose specific questions to Cruz, the representative for “the viewpoint of President Trump and the Republican party,” on distinct policies proposed by the GOP to repeal and replace the ACA.

    While there is no shortage of important questions about the negative impacts of repealing the ACA on Medicare, job growth, LGBTQ equality, the budget deficit, and mental health care services, moderators must prioritize the subjects they can address in the time allotted. Here are five of the most important questions that CNN should ask Cruz in tonight’s debate.

    1. Will The GOP Replacement Cover As Many People As The ACA, Which Has Reduced The Number Of Uninsured Americans By More Than 20 Million People? 

    Implementation of the ACA has resulted in a record low number of uninsured Americans -- merely 8.6 percent in June 2016, down from over 16 percent in 2010. Numerous reports have noted that Republican politicians continue to obfuscate about whether their replacement for the ACA would cover as many people as Obamacare does, likely because none of their proposed policies would. Vox’s Sarah Kliff analyzed the existing replacement plans and found that all of them would reduce coverage, with the number of people impacted ranging by between 3 million and 21 million people.

    Given that Cruz himself dodged this question during a 2016 Republican presidential primary debate, this new venue provides a unique opportunity to press the senator on whether the Republican replacement will maintain existing coverage levels.

    2. Will The Replacement Plan Rescind ACA Provisions That Pertain To Women’s Health, Like The Contraception Mandate, The Prohibition On Gender Rating, And The Sex Discrimination Ban? 

    Congressional Republicans, including President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price (R-GA), have publicly opposed some ACA provisions regarding women’s health care. As CBS News noted, the debate over the ACA resurrects the risk of “a return to higher premiums for women” and “gaps in coverage for birth control and breast pumps.” The ACA also banned discriminatory practices, like sex discrimination and gender rating, while significantly reducing out-of-pocket costs for women’s birth control.

    Tapper and Bash should ask about the future of women’s health care, making sure to reference the specific gains made by the ACA to prevent generic answers that dodge the question.

    3. Can You Guarantee That Medicaid Block Grants Won’t Result In Benefit Cuts For Recipients?

    One of the leading GOP proposals for reforming the health care system revolves around changing Medicaid’s funding structure to a block grant system, which caps the amount of funding a state receives from the federal government. While conservatives typically discuss block grant proposals in terms of allowing states to “innovate,” in reality, most block grant proposals shift Medicaid costs to the states, which would cause chaos on state budgets and force draconian cuts in services covered by Medicaid.

    Under the ACA, the Medicaid expansion extended health insurance to millions of low-income Americans, making a discussion of proposed changes a necessity during the debate.

    4. How Is It Possible For An ACA Replacement To Keep Popular Parts Of The Law, Like The Ban On Denying Coverage To Those With Pre-Existing Conditions, While Also Eliminating The Individual Mandate? 

    Numerous conservatives, including Trump, have pledged to keep certain parts of the ACA, like the ban on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and the provision that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26. But they simultaneously promise to get rid of other provisions, like the individual mandate and the varied taxes, which provide the revenue to fund the popular parts of the law.

    As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote, it’s “impossible” to keep certain popular provisions “while eliminating unpopular parts,” because the “good and the bad depend on each other.” This tension is a central fault line in discussions about the ACA and should be a central theme in CNN’s town hall.

    5. Given The Terrible Track Record Of High-Risk Pools, Would Resurrecting Such A System Simply Repeat The Mistakes Of The Past? 

    One of the few specific health care policies Republicans have championed in pushing to repeal and replace the ACA involves the resurrection of high-risk pools. Despite conservative attempts to repackage high-risk pools as a new idea, they have a long history of problems, as they typically are chronically underfunded, are prohibitively expensive for customers, and provide inadequate coverage. As the Los Angeles Times’ Michael Hiltzik noted, 35 states used high-risk pools prior to the implementation of the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and the experience was “almost universally grim.”

    Moderators should ask about high-risk pools, because they would degrade access to health care to those who are most vulnerable and need care the most.

  • NY Times’ Kristof: “As Ailes Topples Today, I’d Bet On The G.O.P. Tumbling Tomorrow”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof linked embattled Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes’ apparent downfall to the travails of the Republican Party that just nominated Donald Trump for president.

    The Times is reporting that "Ailes and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’s parent company, are in the advanced stages of discussions that would lead to his departure as chairman” following an internal investigation into allegations that Ailes has engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment.

    Responding to the news, Kristof noted that “ today’s G.O.P. has been galvanized, prodded and molded by Fox News” under Ailes and that Trump “is the Republican nominee perhaps in part because Fox News and other prominent right-wing commentators weakened the control of Republican Party bosses.” He concludes that Ailes and the Republican Party share a common “myopia,” writing in a July 19 piece:

    The ugly sexual harassment of which Ailes is accused was common a generation ago and too often was accepted as boys-will-be-boys behavior. But times have changed, and he apparently continued in the 2010s conduct that is no longer winked at and is now often (unfortunately, not often enough) taken very seriously. Ailes was stuck in the past, and now he apparently will end his career in disgrace as a result, if the reports are correct.

    The Republican Party suffers a similar myopia. It continues to behave as if America were in the 1970s, and its nostalgia leads it to antagonize blacks, Latinos and Muslims, as well as many whites uncomfortable with what feels to them like bigotry. In the 2000 Republican convention, George W. Bush was careful to put black faces on the podium almost nonstop, so that people joked that convention coverage looked like Black Entertainment Television, because Bush knew that he needed to come across to American centrists as tolerant and open-minded. In contrast, the 2016 convention is mostly whites all the time.

    Republican leaders have talked for many years of the need to adapt to changing values and changing demography. But so far they haven’t managed to change, any more than Ailes did — and so just as Ailes’s rise was a boon for the Republican Party, so his downfall is a harbinger of trouble ahead, of a political party that blindly marches on without regard to changing times. As Ailes topples today, I’d bet on the G.O.P. tumbling tomorrow.

     
  • NYT's Kristof: Right-Wing Media "Echo Chamber" Helped Trump's Rise

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times's Nicholas Kristof explained how conservative media is partially responsible for the success of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, noting that the conservative media "echo chamber" is responsible for "breeding a myopic extremism in which reality is irrelevant."

    Trump's prominence in the right-wing media landscape has been rising since Fox News promoted his birther theory about President Obama in 2011. Since then, Trump has been a regular fixture on Fox News, with the network giving him almost $30 million in free airtime -- more than double any other candidate. Likewise, talk radio hosts including Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity have hyped Trump's presidential bid since the summer. Limbaugh has praised Trump for his "ability to illuminate" issues, while Hannity has characterized him as "impressive and refreshing." And it's not only talk radio: conservative pundits have frequently championed Trump's offensive rhetoric.

    In his February 11 article, Kristof explained how conservative media has capitalized on the "Pandora's box .... of fear and resentment" opened by the Republican party, creating an "echo chamber" that has tugged the party to the right by "breeding a myopic extremism in which reality is irrelevant." Kristof concluded that Trump -- "an ill-informed, inexperienced, bigoted, sexist xenophobe" -- is "the consequence" of the "politics of resentment" within the Republican party:

    So how did we get to this stage where the leading Republican candidate is loathed by the Republican establishment?

    In part, I think, Republican leaders brought this on themselves. Over the decades they pried open a Pandora's box, a toxic politics of fear and resentment, sometimes brewed with a tinge of racial animus, and they could never satisfy the unrealistic expectations that they nurtured among supporters.

    [...]

    Political nastiness and conspiracy theories were amplified by right-wing talk radio, television and websites -- and, yes, there are left-wing versions as well, but they are much less influential. Democrats often felt disadvantaged by the rise of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, but in retrospect Limbaugh and Fox created a conservative echo chamber that hurt the Republican Party by tugging it to the right and sometimes breeding a myopic extremism in which reality is irrelevant.

    A poll released in September found that Republicans were more likely to think that Obama was born abroad than that Ted Cruz was. That poll found that Trump supporters believed by nearly a three-to-one ratio that Obama was born overseas.

    The Republican establishment profited from the insinuations that Obama is a Muslim, that he's anti-American, that his health care plan would lead to "death panels." Rick Perry has described Trump as a "cancer on conservatism" and said his movement is "a toxic mix of demagoguery and meanspiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition" -- indeed, but it was a mix that too many Republican leaders accepted as long as it worked for them.

    This echo chamber deluded its believers to the point that it sometimes apparently killed them. During the 2009-10 flu pandemic, right-wing broadcasters like Limbaugh and Glenn Beck denounced the call for flu shots, apparently seeing it as a nefarious Obama plot.

    [...]

    So today the leading candidate for president in the party of Lincoln is an ill-informed, inexperienced, bigoted, sexist xenophobe. And he's not a conservative at heart, just a pandering opportunist.

    Donald Trump is the consequence of irresponsible politicking by Republican leaders, the culmination of decades of cultivating unrealistic expectations within the politics of resentment. It's good to see leading Republicans standing up to him today, but the situation recalls the Chinese saying, qi hu nan xia -- when you're riding a tiger, the hard part is getting off.

  • "Enough": Media Implore Political Leaders To Finally Act On Gun Safety Laws

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Media outlets roundly urged Congressional leaders to pass gun safety legislation in the wake of the deadly San Bernardino mass shooting -- including stronger gun violence prevention laws on military-style weapons, background checks, and rolling back concealed-carry laws -- and chastised politicians for their complicity in the "crisis in American society" where "gun carnage ... has come to define America."

  • Myths & Facts Behind The Campaign To Attack Disability Benefits

    ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Media outlets including NPR and Fox News are targeting federal disability benefits programs through a campaign deceptively portraying these programs as wasteful and unsustainable. In reality, these programs have low fraud rates and help the rising number of Americans with severe disabilities survive when they are unable to work.

  • Despite lack of investigation, pundits dismissed concerns by Congress and the public over port deal

    ››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

    In recent days, numerous pundits have summarily dismissed concerns about the takeover of operations at six U.S. ports by a company owned by the government of Dubai, a member state of the United Arab Emirates, despite the fact that the Bush administration opted not to conduct the 45-day investigation into the deal's national security implications provided for -- and, critics argue, required -- by federal law.