Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Olbermann Hyperbolizes

To proclaim that Keith Olbermann engaged in hyperbole on his show last night would seem to be a bit inane, wouldn’t it. There are those who might say that I regularly engage in inanity on this blog, but we will disregard them as a mean-spirited minority and move on.

Olbermann went to new heights of hyperbole in last night's segment on “health care reform” when he a) ranted about Obama claiming that “eliminating waste and inefficiency in the health care system could pay for most of the health care package,” b) mentioned critics who claimed that there could not be that much waste and c) declaimed that Obama vastly underestimated how much “could be paid for” by eliminating waste, based on a report from Thompson Reuters.

It’s hard to know where to start dismantling a rant that was so utterly and completely divorced from reality. Not that Olbermann is ever in particularly close contact with reality.

Let’s start with Obama’s claim, which was that eliminating waste and fraud from Medicare would pay for about half of the health care reform package. Medicare. Not from the “health care system,” Keith, from Medicare, which doesn’t even spend $800 billion per year, let alone waste that much.

Next let’s look at where the savings would occur. Since we are talking about the health care reform package spending federal tax dollars, and are talking about the federal budget and the federal deficit, it would seem logical that the savings would have to be in federal spending. Not to our boy Keith Olbermann; any old savings will do.

The report that Olbermann is citing says nothing whatever about Medicare or the federal government, and none of the waste that Olbermann is hooting about is government waste. So how exactly does he think that savings in the private economy is going to pay the cost of a federal program or balance the federal budget? That, it seems, is a trivial detail that Olbermann does not want us to bother with.

Basically Olbermann is talking about this country spending twice as much on health care as any other nation in the developed world, mentioning a health care reform proposal, and then saying, “Oh, look, something shiny.”

Then he brings on a woman from the California Nurses Association to polish up his shiny distraction. She immediately launches a lengthy screed about insurance companies not paying claims, which has nothing to do with the current topic of waste in the health care system but nonetheless draws rave reviews from Olbermann, who loves demonizing insurance companies whatever the current topic may be.

In case you think the CNA is a group of those wonderful caring people beside your bed, think again. It is one of the most powerful labor unions in the state, exceeded only by the California Highway Patrol, which manages to get actual crimes by its members covered up; the prison guards union, which owns the governor and the legislature; and the public workers unions, which not only have pensions higher than their salaries after twenty years, but have wages 40% higher than those in comparable private jobs.

The CNA is a professional and very active political group, campaigning in causes having no bearing on the interests of the workers they represent; for example campaigning actively in favor of the infamous Proposition 8.

Olbermann brings up a Thompson Reuters item that 37% of the waste consists of unneeded treatment, in part to avoid malpractice risk. He goes on to describe his conversations with doctors who said that they were using unneeded treatment basically as a means of pumping up their income, and the CNA representative immediately segues that into a discussion of insurance fraud which Olbermann gleefully joins.

On the Countdown website they have a “Keith bobblehead doll” for sale. Really; I'm not making that up. You can buy one of those on Countdown's website. Or you can watch one every weeknight on MSNBC.

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