It's been a while. My apologies.
Two stories to comment on today. First, there was announcement today that Congress was attempting to fix the payment gap in Medicare for doctors. For those who don't know, this is an annual problem that Congress has to address. When Congress first established payment schedules for doctors they forgot to adjust these payments for inflation. So every year doctors face a reduction in reimbursement from medicare. What adds to the problem is that fact that if Congress fails to patch the problem from year to year, the payment schedule resorts back to the original payment schedule as determined years ago. So essentially, every year the problem gets bigger and bigger. And instead of actually fixing it once and for all, Congress just patches it year to year.
The problem is so big now that if Congress fails to fix it, then doctors would face as much as a 25% reduction in medicare reimbursement. That's serious. Many doctors would simply stop accepting medicare as a result, thus leaving seniors with fewer health care options. So Congress decides to put in a patch at a cost of $250 billion, which they aren't going to pay for. Yes, this money will just be added to our growing debt. Why? Well, I have a theory.
I have never been a member of the AMA because I think they are a political group who isn't interested in the well-being of our patients. The AMA represents doctors. And the AMA has thrown itself in with the Obama administration, supporting Obamacare. Now, Obama can claim to have the support of America's doctors for his health care reform. The only problem is that America's doctors don't support his reform. The AMA supports it, but if you poll physicians nationwide you'll find they basically reflect the opinion of the general population. My guess is the AMA agreed to get behind Obamacare for a trade-off, and we saw the fruits of that trade-off today. More pay for doctors, more debt on the shoulders of our children.
Now for the next topic. Today Robert Gibbs announced that the White House doesn't consider Fox News a legitimate news organization and it discourages people from getting their news from that network. This announcement was met with little objection from the White House press corps, except for one lone voice, that of ABC news' Jake Tapper. Tapper is a liberal. And he is also a professional journalist in the sense that his own political views rarely interfere with his reporting. He spoke up and pressed Gibbs about the administration's attitude toward Fox News, and I suspect he did so because Tapper recognized something that should disturb any journalist. Anytime the White House declares that a certain news organization should be ignored, it should make any citizen, and certainly any journalist pause.
Gibbs said that Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity were the primary reasons why the administration wants to marginalize Fox. Those shows are commentary, hosted by men who never try to hide their political ideology. Yet, Gibbs feels that's enough to black list the entire network. Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow are always welcome at the White House despite their opinion-based programs. Keep in mind, Fox is really the only major news organization that has bothered to question many of Obama's initiatives, and now the administration wants them ignored, even marginalized. There is something quite disturbing about that. People like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro do these kinds of things. It should never come from an American president. Even the Liberal commentators on Fox are voicing some legitimate objections to this.
George Bush welcomed dissent, and never tried to bully the media into falling in line with his objectives. Obama is bringing something much different to the table, and it really makes me squirm in my seat a bit. I am never comfortable when the White House gets to pick and choose which news organizations are "fit" to be considered legitimate. That's just too close to a state-sanctioned news source for my taste.
The fact is I watch Fox because it's the only network where I'm guaranteed to get the whole story. I get both points of view on the issues and I appreciate that. I hear the opinions of Beck and Hannity, as well as Alan Colmes, Juan Williams, Bob Beckel and Geraldo Rivera. I appreciate the spirited debate and the opportunity to make up my own mind on any given issue. It's hardly a bastion of conservatism, and anyone who says otherwise probably has never even bothered to watch it. Other networks have a tendency to spoon feed their viewers only the things they want them to hear and see. If you don't watch Fox, then you probably have no idea who Van Jones is, or why ACORN is suddenly in a lot of trouble.
Yes, Fox asks some tough questions. Why is Obama delaying the Afghan troop decision? Why isn't the stimulus package working as promised? Why isn't he giving more guidance on the health care debate? These are the things I want my President to be asked. Bush wasn't given any softer treatment. In fact, I would argue that Beck was just as tough on Bush as he is on Obama.
So I think journalists should take a step back. If you dare disagree with the White House, if you dare ask a difficult question, if you dare try to hold Obama accountable, you may be black-listed as well. If they can go after Fox, there is nothing keeping them from going after any other news outlet. We'll see if Jake Tapper is allowed to ask anymore questions at the White House press conference.