Obama was out to dispel myths at this afternoon's health-care town hall meeting in New Hampshire, but right-wing critics believe he may have created a few more. Reviews elsewhere, however, gave Obama high marks for raising the tenor of the conversation and addressing his critics directly.
Were there more myths busted than facts fudged? From the left, Steve Benen gives the best summary of myths corrected:
- Rationing: "Insurance companies are rationing care." (Obama via Salon)
- "Death Panels": "The intention of the members of Congress was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they're ready, on their own terms. It wasn't forcing anybody to do anything." (Obama via Benen)
- An Enemies List: "This is another example of how the media ends up just completing distorting what's taken place. What we've said is that if somebody has--if you get an e-mail from somebody that says, for example, 'Obamacare is creating a death panel,' forward us the e-mail and we will answer the question that's raised in the e-mail.."(Obama via Benen)
- Obama Never Supported Single Payer Health Care, says Jim Geraghty at the National Review, then highlighting this quote: "Barack Obama said he would consider embracing a single-payer health-care system, beloved by liberals, as his plan for broader coverage evolves over time."
- Expanded Coverage Lowers Costs, says John McCormack at the Weekly Standard. "Over the weekend the director of the Congressional Budget Office wrote that "the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.'"
- Misinformation about the Cost, says Karl at Hot Air. "Pres. Obama said this one day after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office told Congress that it does not see health care cost savings in either of the partisan Democratic bills currently in Congress. Moreover, the projected $239 billion of additional deficit spending over the next 10 years may be more like $800 billion--and far more thereafter."
Some pundits believe the most productive result to come from the town hall meeting was a shift in tone. There has been a strain of worry from Steven Pearlstein to the Atlantic's own James Fallows that townhall anger was a sign of civic dysfunction. But as the once-again indispensable Steve Benen remarks:
Watching Obama's gathering, one got the sense that it was American politics as it's meant to be done.
For the moment, critics and supporters alike have returned to debating in the realm of facts.