NYT Blurs Lines On Health Bills
Reporters are usually not responsible for the headlines over their articles, but the headline over Robert Pear’s and David Herszenhorn’s October 7th New York Times article is simply misleading: “Health Care Bill Gets Green Light in Cost Analysis.” Pear and Herszebhorn do report that the Congressional Budget Office “cost analysis” is on the Senate Finance Committee bill, but then they down play the ramifications of the fact, writing:
Republicans, who are overwhelmingly opposed to the legislation, minimized the significance of the cost analysis. They suggested that the “real” bill would be written secretly by Democratic leaders as they combine the Finance Committee measure with a version approved by the Senate health committee in July.
Why the scare quotes around “real”? What Pear and Herszenhorn completely fail to tell readers is that the CBO report is only a “preliminary analysis” of conceptual language. The CBO made this explicit in their letter to Congress:
CBO and JCT’s analysis is preliminary in large part because the Chairman’s mark, as amended, has not yet been embodied in legislative language.
Worse, Pear and Herszenhorn completely fail to remind readers what the CBO had to say about the other bills the Senate Finance bill will soon be merged with. According to the CBO, the Senate Health Committee bill will add $600 billion to the deficit and the House bill will add $245 billion.
The New York Times should wait till all these bill are merged and the CBO has done an actual cost estimate based on real legislative language before it tells readers “Health Care Bill Gets Green Light in Cost Analysis.”