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Missing Tim Russert: Will Any MSMer Ask The Obvious Questions About Obamacare?

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The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait was my guest yesterday, and after some back and forth on Rush –referenced below– my interview turned to Obamacare –Baucus Division. When the transcript is posted here later, you will see that Jonathan is very, very fuzzy on the details of how the Baucus bill would operate, but he’s all for it, and he knows the PriceWaterhouseCoopers study is worthless. He’s not sure how much Medicare Advantage will be cut, he’s not sure how high premiums for the already insured will go, and he’s not sure what happens to hospitals, but he’s all for the bill. The transcript won’t convey the long pauses that Jonathan takes while trying to figure out some sort of answer to very simple questions about the bill (the podcast is available at the Hughniverse), but the impression the audience gained is that Jonathan is unconcerned with the details of Obamacare, which I think perfectly reflects the general attitude on the left when it comes to this wildly risky endeavor.

For the left this debate is about winning a political battle in the eyes of the home team crowd, the Beltway-Manhattan media elites– and not about health care reform or health care insurance reform. As such neither the details nor the consequences matter much to many proponents of the bill, even though those consequences will be devastating to seniors and family budgets across the country.

The president’s rapid rush to offer seniors a check for $250 because of the lack of a social security cost-of-living increase is another sign of the absurdity of the health care debate which is premised on making massive cuts to senior benefits. D.C. shudders at the prospect of not delivering an annual uptick in benefits. How in the world will it handle the cuts to Medicare and the reactions among seniors? Almost certainly the cuts will be made and then reversed as seniors begin to feel them in 2013 and the outyears. Democrats are beginning to figure out that this ruse isn’t flying with a very attentive public. As Senator Kyl said on the program yesterday, perhaps as many as 20 Democrats are deeply worried about the plummeting support for the radical gamble. It will only take two Democrats to stop the train wreck, and the list of Democratic senators you ought to be contacting every day is below. Start with Evan Bayh of Indiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. They are on the ballot in 13 months. Since they can stop the train wreck, if they don’t, they’ll be responsible for its massive damage.

MSMers of course have wholly failed to expose just how little is known by many of the most enthusiastic supporters about how the bill will operate and where its massive cuts will fall. Seniors especially should be informed of just how high their premiums will go and just how the cuts will fall, but not a single Sunday show anchor patiently questions proponents of the plan in the fashion that Tim Russert used to do when social security came up.

“Senator, will you explain, exactly, what the impacts will be to Medicare Advantage, and how the Medicare system will absurd 500 billion in cuts?”

“Senator, how much will premiums go up over ten years for a family of four under the Backs bill? PriceWaterhouseCoopers says from $13,000 to $26,000. I know you disagree, but how much will these premiums increase, and isn’t the bill supposed to stop this?”

“Senator, if the Baucus bill leaves millions still not covered, millions who are still using emergency rooms for primary care, how exactly will the growth in medical costs be handled?”

“Senator, Harry Reid says tort reform is worth $54 billion in savings. Why not include that in the bill?”

“Senator, what are we going to do about health care for the population not in the country legally and thus not eligible for the coverage?”

There aren’t persuasive answers to these questions and thus the MSM doesn’t embarrass their friends in the Administration or on the Hill by asking them.

But the public knows. They are inferring from what isn’t being said exactly what is in the package. And they hate it.

And if it passes, they will correctly blame the Democrats in 2010. Jon Kyl may be right –the next five weeks will test a lot of Democrats, especially those who like their jobs and want to keep them.

Here are the Democratic senators you should be calling and e-mailing every day:


Sen. Blanche Lincoln

DC Phone: (202) 224-4843

Local Phone: Dumas (870) 382-1023, Fayetteville (479) 251-1224, Little Rock (501) 375-2993, Jonesboro (870) 910-6896, Texarkana (870) 774-3106

Link to E-mail

Sen. Mark Pryor

DC Phone: (202) 224-2353

Local Phone: Little Rock (501) 324-6336

Link to E-mail


Sen. Michael Bennet

DC Phone: 202) 224-5444

Local Phone:
Denver Metro Office: (303) 455-7600 Toll Free: (866) 455-9866 Fax: (303) 455-8851
Colorado Springs Office: Phone: (719) 328-1100

Link to E-mail.


Sen. Joe Lieberman

DC Phone: (202) 224-4041

Local Phone: (860) 549-8463

Link to E-mail


Sen. Bill Nelson

DC Phone: (202) 224-5274

Local Phone: Orlando (407) 872-7161, Miami-Dade (305) 536-5999, Tampa (813) 225-7040, West Palm Beach (561) 514-0189, Tallahassee (850) 942-8415, Jacksonville (904) 346-4500, Broward (954) 693-4851, Fort Meyers (239) 334-7760

Link to E-mail


Sen. Evan Bayh

DC Phone: (202) 224-5623

Local Phone: Evansville (812) 465-6500, Fort Wayne (260) 426-3151, Hammond (219) 852-2763, Indianapolis (317) 554-0750, Jeffersonville (812) 218-2317, Southbend (574) 236-8302

Link to E-mail


Sen. Mary Landrieu

DC Phone: (202) 224-5824

Local Phone: Baton Rouge (225) 389-0395, Lake Charles (337) 436-6650, New Orleans (504) 589-2427, Shreveport (318) 676-3085

Link to E-mail


Sen. Jon Tester

DC Phone: (202) 224-2644

Local Phone: Billings (406) 252-0550, Bozeman (406) 586-4450, Butte (406) 723-3277, Glendive (406) 365-2391, Great Falls (406) 452-9585, Helena (406) 449-5401, Kalispell (406) 257-3360, Missoula (406) 728-3003

Link to E-mail


Sen. Ben Nelson

DC Phone: (202) 224-6551

Local Phone: Omaha (402) 391-3411, Lincoln (402) 441-4600, Scottsbluff (308) 631-7614, Kearney (308) 293-5818, South Sioux City (402) 209-3595

Link to E-mail

North Dakota

Sen. Kent Conrad

DC Phone: (202) 224-2043

Local Phone: Bismarck (701) 258-4648, Fargo (701) 232-8030, Grand Forks (701) 775-9601, Minot (701) 852-0703

Link to E-mail

Sen. Byron Dorgan

DC Phone: (202) 224-2551

Local Phone: Bismarck (701) 250-4618, Fargo (701) 239-5389, Minot (701) 852-0703, Grand Forks (701) 746-8972

Link to E-mail

South Dakota

Sen. Tim Johnson

DC Phone: (202) 224-5842

Local Phone: Aberdeen (605) 226-3440, Sioux Falls (605) 332-8896, Rapid City (605) 341-3990

Link to E-mail


Sen. James Webb

(202) 224-4024

Link to E-mail.

West Virginia

Sen. Robert C. Byrd

DC Phone: (202) 224-3954

Local Phone: Charlestown (304) 342-5855, Eastern Panhandle (304) 264-4626

Link to E-mail


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