Debunk And Deprogram
Dday recaps the president's call with bloggers today below, (here's the recording) but there were a couple of things he said that dday didn't mention. Obama had two specific things he thought the blogs could be helpful with: countering the lies and misinformation about costs and keeping pressure on members of congress. Those are actually two things the blogs are currently doing pretty well, so somebody is paying attention.
As for the first problem with the cost misinformation, it's almost too late. They should have anticipated that Cokie and Company would be nearly orgasmic with delight if some accountant uttered the prophesy that the health care plan would break the bank. It's exactly the sort of thing the media love because it makes it possible that there will be an "upset" in the Big Game. So when the CBO came out with that testimony last week, they had to know it would set off explosions all over Washington.
Having said, that, the degree of misinformation and bizarre analysis really is amazing. (Amato caught one fairly typical one over the week-end.) Apparently, these people can't even interpret some fairly simple polling numbers much less something as complicated as the cost or savings of health care reform.
I have written from the beginning that the biggest threat to health care reform was going to be the fiscal scolds, who predictably reared their heads after the Republicans had built up a large debt with tax cuts for the wealthy and useless military spending. Indeed, they work in tandem. Fiscal scolds are front people for greedy and selfish malefactors of wealth who are the best able to afford the taxes necessary to have a decent society and the least willing to do it. And they are considered to be Very Serious People by the babbling press corp who have no interest in anything but "scoring" the Big Game.
From the moment it became clear that the Democrats were going to win a majority they geared up for a long campaign against progressive legislation in general, but the biggest threat they see is any expansion of the safety net. They know that once they are in place, people will never allow them to be taken away. They will fight until their last breath to make sure that average Americans do not get it into their heads that higher taxes on wealthy people (and themselves) is actually a good deal.
Blogs and others can debunk bogus numbers forever, but until the Democrats realize that they have to actually make an argument about what the government should spend taxpayer money on and why the idea of "tax relief" is actually just a way of saying "I refuse to pay my bills," they will always be at the mercy of the big money boyz who will pull out all the stops to keep the rubes from getting it into their heads that they actually have the power to make their own lives better through democratic government. And until they recognize that feeding the puerile political press corps with silly celebrity pieces and political process stories is counter productive, they will end up with shallow, uninformative coverage.
Meanwhile, if you want to know how more specifically how health care reform will save money in the long run, read Ezra.