My one-time boss at the Yale Daily News, Lanny Davis, responds to the Threats-to-Woodward story by acknowledging that he has been threatened by this same White House, too.
The big news of the day is the outbreak of open war between veteran journalist Bob Woodward and Barack Obama.
Woodward last week challenged the Obama Administration’s blaming Republicans for the Sequester, pointing out that the idea of an automatic trigger was originated by the White House in July of 2011.
There was immediate pushback from the left’s commentariat, disputing his interpretation and dismissing the once-admired Nixon-slayer as “troutmouth Bob” and “a hack.”
Apparently, Woodward’s questioning the White House party-line on the grand budget battle du jour was perceived as potentially very damaging, because Woodward is retaliating now by revealing that when he discussed that upcoming column with the head of the President’s National Economic Council Gene Sperling, Woodward found himself on the receiving end of a half hour long tirade.
Sperling subsequently sent a lengthy email, in which he apologized for “raising his voice,” but which also asserted (obviously falsely) that Woodward was wrong about the fact in issue (that the Sequester proposal was initiated by the White House, and not by congressional Republicans), and warning him that he “will regret staking out that claim.”
Threatening prominent reporters is an awfully bold and bad thing for any administration to do, and historically trying to intimidate the press has not worked out well for those who’ve tried it.
Bob Woodward (not surprisingly) retaliated by releasing the email exchange.
Rather than being intimidated, of course, Bob Woodward is responding to the attempts to pressure him to shut up by openly attacking Barack Obama’s decisions in other areas. Yesterday, Woodward took a swipe at Obama’s declining to deploy a carrier to the Persian Gulf “because of budget cuts.” (See video)
James Capretta, at National Review Online, takes a look at the first six months of “reform.”
He finds the foundations well underway for massive bureaucracy resulting in the politicization of patient care decisions, with the Obama Administration engaging in disinformation campaigns and power plays, and making threats against the livelihoods of businesses affected which protest.
During the long national debate over the future of American health care, President Obama frequently chastised his opponents for launching exaggerated attacks on his plan for “reform.” He took particular exception to the criticism that the changes he was pushing amounted to a government takeover of the whole health sector. He knew full well that this kind of criticism might derail the entire effort in Congress, because most Americans recoil at the thought of a distant and bureaucratic federal government running the health-care system for everyone. So Obama vigorously denied that his program would lead to any such thing. In his Aug. 8, 2009, radio address, he described the “takeover” accusation as “outlandish” and characterized his approach as a mainstream and moderate attempt simply to reform the nation’s private health-insurance system.
It’s now been six months since Congress passed Obamacare — not a long time given the sweeping nature of the legislation and the long phase-in schedule for its most significant provisions. Even so, it is already abundantly clear that Obamacare’s critics were dead right: The new health law has set in motion a government takeover of American health care, and a very hostile one at that. The Obama administration’s clumsy and overbearing behavior since its passage proves the point.
Read the whole thing.
Michael Barone observes HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius demonstrating exactly what Obamacare is really about: Power.
“There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.”
That sounds like a stern headmistress dressing down some sophomores who have been misbehaving. But it’s actually from a letter sent Thursday from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans—the chief lobbyist for private health insurance companies.
Sebelius objects to claims by health insurers that they are raising premiums because of increased costs imposed by the Obamacare law passed by Congress last March.
She acknowledges that many of the law’s “key protections” take effect later this month and does not deny that these impose additional costs on insurers. But she says that “according to our analysis and those of some industry and academic experts, any potential premium impact … will be minimal.”
Well, that’s reassuring. Er, except that if that’s the conclusion of “some” industry and academic experts, it’s presumably not the conclusion of all industry and academic experts, or the secretary would have said so.
Sebelius also argues that “any premium increases will be moderated by out-of-pocket savings resulting from the law.” But she’s pretty vague about the numbers—“up to $1 billion in 2013.” Anyone who watches TV ads knows that “up to” can mean zero.
As Time magazine’s Karen Pickert points out, Sebelius ignores the fact that individual insurance plans cover different types of populations. So that government and “some” industry and academic experts think the new law will justify increases averaging 1 percent or 2 percent, they could justify much larger increases for certain plans.
Or as Ignagni, the recipient of the letter, says, “It’s a basic law of economics that additional benefits incur additional costs.”
But Sebelius has “zero tolerance” for that kind of thing. She promises to issue regulations to require “state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases” (which would presumably mean all rate increases).
And there’s a threat. “We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014.”
That’s a significant date, the first year in which state insurance exchanges are slated to get a monopoly on the issuance of individual health insurance policies. Sebelius is threatening to put health insurers out of business in a substantial portion of the market if they state that Obamacare is boosting their costs. ...
The threat to use government regulation to destroy or harm someone’s business because they disagree with government officials is thuggery. Like the Obama administration’s transfer of money from Chrysler bondholders to its political allies in the United Auto Workers, it is a form of gangster government.
Roger Kimball responds to the fresh hell that is reading Paul Krugman while living in a country with the current White House administration.
The White House, in addition to compiling its enemies list of people who say or write something “fishy” about its policies, has been urging its supporters to get out and “punch back twice as hard.” Obama flack Paul Krugman endeavored to do just that today, claiming that critics of the President’s plans for a government take over were — wait for it — motivated by “racial fear.”
Right. It’s another Dorthy Parker moment for the celebrated New York Times columnist. Let’s see if you have worked this out correctly. Presented with the bloated everything-but-the-kitchen-sink thousand-page obscenity that Rahm Emanuel is endeavored to shove down the collective gullet of America, why would you be critical? You might fear the government taking over another big chunk of the economy, since that way, you have learned “par expériences nombreuses et funestes,” is a prescription for waste, corruption, and inefficiency. You might be critical because you know that where similar systems have been tried, they have led to health care rationing and a denial of services to many vulnerable parts of the population, especially seniors> You might also be critical because you suspect that the plan will put a damper on medical innovation — one of the key ingredients that has made American health care the best in the world. You might further be critical because you have guessed the the price tag for this government sponsored boondoggle will be enormous and you do not relish paying yet higher taxes to fund it. I think you might be even more critical about the issue of freedom: the fact that, were anything like the Democrats’ plan to be passed, it would limit your freedom of choice in what doctors who see, what treatments you can get, and what sorts of insurance you choose to have (or, come to that, to forego). There are a dozen things you might not like about the Democratic plans. But what does Paul Krugman seize upon? “Racial fear.” Right. And I, as Miss Parker said, am Marie of Roumania.
Jake Tapper tells us the White House is denying using threats and intimidation against businesses opposing its plans.
A leading bankruptcy attorney representing hedge funds and money managers told ABC News Saturday that Steve Rattner, the leader of the Obama administration’s Auto Industry Task Force, threatened one of the firms, an investment bank, that if it continued to oppose the administration’s Chrysler bankruptcy plan, the White House would use the White House press corps to destroy its reputation.
The White House and a spokesperson for the investment bank in question challenged the accuracy of the story.
“The charge is completely untrue,” said White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton, “and there’s obviously no evidence to suggest that this happened in any way.”