Why Republicans Say "Democrat Party" Rather than "Democratic Party": Because Joe McCarthy Did So
Steven Pearlstein on Health Care Reform

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (When Is My Check for Reading the Washington Post Going to Arrive)

It's really unfair. In a just world, the journamalistic Washington Post would be sending me checks for reading it.

Today, in the left-hamd ring, we have Ruth Marcus performing the triple Democratic-trashing somersault.

She says that the Bush health proposals are bad:

Ruth Marcus - The Knee-Jerk Opposition - washingtonpost.com: Yes, there are big risks involved, primarily that the already-teetering employer-based system will collapse as healthy individuals use their tax deduction to buy cheaper, private insurance, leaving employers with the older and the sicker. And, yes, it's fair to argue that a more comprehensive approach -- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has proposed one -- is needed...

She says that it would be insane for all of the reality-based not to presuppose that everything Bush proposes is going to be bad:

This sad situation is largely of Bush's own making. He is reaping the poisonous state of affairs that he helped sow for six years. So many of the president's policies have been dishonest and wrongheaded, so much of his politics has been slashingly partisan, Democrats would be crazy if their instinctive reaction to a Bush plan for fill-in-the-blank wasn't intense distrust...

But still she manages to say that the Democrats shouldn't be pointing out that the Bush plan doesn't look like good health policy:

Listening to Democratic reaction to Bush's new health insurance proposal, you get the sense that if Bush picked a plank right out of the Democratic platform -- if he introduced Hillarycare itself -- and stuck it in his State of the Union address, Democrats would churn out press releases denouncing it.... Democrats -- if they care more about addressing health-care needs than scoring political points -- ought to be finding ways to improve and build on the Bush proposal, not condemning and mischaracterizing it. Given that nothing's going to pass without Democratic approval, what's the risk in engaging in the discussion?

Marcus ignores not only that the Bush health proposals are not good policy, but also that the Democrats are engaging in the discussion. As she herself writes, "Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has proposed" a more comprehensive plan, and "it's fair to argue" that such a more comprehensive approach "is needed."

And, of course, Ruth Marcus hasn't done her homework. She doesn't understand the Bush proposals. An example: She copies a Republican talking point:

The deduction would... [leave] 80 percent of those with employer-sponsored coverage unaffected.

The deduction would indeed worsen the finances of only 20% of those with employer-sponsored coverage in 2009. But it would worsen the finances of about 50% of those with employer-sponsored coverage in 2019. And 90% of those with employer-sponsored coverage by 2030.

Why oh why can't we have Washington Post writers who do their homework? Or don't write about things when they haven't done their homework?

The Washington Post would have better served its readers if it had simply printed blank space where Ruth Marcus's column is, save for a link to Len Burman, Jason Furman, and Roberton Williams, "The President’s Health Insurance Proposal-—A First Look" (Washington DC: Tax Policy Center) http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411412_firstlook.pdf.