Right-Wing Media's Buffett Health Care Myth Finds Voice On This Week

This Week allowed a false Republican talking point created by right-wing media  -- that Warren Buffett criticized the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- to go unchallenged after it was repeated by Rep Tom Graves (R-GA). ABC did not inform its audience that the out of context comment was from 2010 and was not made in reference to the health care law. Buffet publicly re-stated his support of the law as a result of the controversy.

Guest host Jonathan Karl asked Graves to react to a Wall Street Journal editorial that criticized the House Republican plan to defund the ACA. Graves responded by quoting sources critical of the law, including the claim that “Warren Buffett says stop it now, start over”:

But Buffett's comments were made in 2010 and were not directed at the ACA.

Graves' mistake comes directly from the right-wing media's dishonest reporting. Despite the fact that Buffett made those comments in 2010, right-wing outlets, such as The Weekly Standard reported on them as though they had been made recently, claiming “You know things are bad for President Obama when even Warren Buffett has soured on Obamacare.”

After discovering that the quote was made in 2010, the Standard updated their post but still claimed the comments showed that Buffett “has opposed Obamacare since even before it was passed.” But Buffett was never criticizing the law, he was expressing concern about growing health care costs and urging reform. As New York magazine writer Jonathan Chait pointed out:

In fact, the Buffett quote came from comments he made in 2010, when the health-care law was being cobbled together in Congress. His denunciation of “what we have right now” refers to the pre-Obamacare status quo. Buffett said in that interview he would prefer a better health-care bill than the one that was before Congress, but also preferred the one before Congress to doing nothing and would vote for it: “If it was a choice today between plan A, which is what we've got, or plan B, what is in front of -- the Senate bill, I would vote for the Senate bill,” Buffett said. “But I would much rather see a plan C that really attacks costs.”

After his comments were misinterpreted, Buffett reinforced his support of the ACA to the Omaha World-Herald, calling claims such as Graves' “outrageous”:

Stories saying that Warren Buffett wants to “scrap Obamacare” are false, the Omaha investor said Tuesday.

“This is outrageous,” Buffett said in a World-Herald interview Tuesday. “It's 100 percent wrong ... totally false.”


Buffett said the stories took his comments out of context and added the “scrapped” wording.

“I've never suggested nor thought Obamacare should be scrapped,” said Buffett, who has supported Obama's political campaigns. “I support it. It relates to providing medical care for all Americans. That's something I've thought should be done for a long, long time.”