As I pointed out before, whether Wilson or Obama is right on the subject depends upon which health care bill one looks at.
But one thing that struck me is how quickly defenders of Obama on the blogosphere picked up the meme that Section 246 of the House Bill “proved” that Obama was right. Section 246 deals with “affordability credits,” which help people who cannot otherwise afford coverage purchase government-run public option insurance on health care exchanges. Section 246 does not permit the payment of these affordability credits to illegal aliens (emphasis mine):
Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.
Section 246, dealing with a specific type of credit, does not change the fact that under the House Bill as written — and as Obama wanted it passed before the August recess — illegal aliens would have been full participants in the nationalized health care system.
Illegal aliens would be required to purchase insurance under the mandate requirements, could buy into the public option coverage (which while nominally self-sustaining inevitably would require government subsidies), and could benefit from almost all of the programs created under the bill.
Having forced illegal aliens to purchase insurance, it would have been inevitable that some financial assistance would be offered to those who could not afford to purchase even the public option, although in fairness there is nothing in the House Bill which says so. Republican attempts to amend the House Bill to exclude illegal aliens from the national health care system were rejected by Democrats, which confirmed Republican suspicions that imposing a mandate on illegal aliens to purchase insurance was opening the door to eventual subsidies.
People can debate whether bringing illegal aliens into a nationalized health care system is good or bad, but what is not debatable is that the House Bill would have brought illegal aliens into the system almost completely. The politically contentious issue of outright subsidies for illegal aliens would have been left for another day, but the ground work was being laid. Now that Obama is rejecting such an approach at least nominally that debate is over, although it will be interesting to see how Obama’s words are put into legislative writing.
Given that Section 246 so clearly is narrow and so clearly does not prove that Obama was correct in his speech, I wondered how it was that, within hours of Obama’s speech, blog comment sections and blog posts were being plastered by people quoting Section 246 as “proof” that Obama was right and Wilson was wrong. Even my own blog post received comments from people quoting Section 246.
Realistically, how many people had dug into the 1018 pages of the House Bill to find Section 246?
The answer is that at 9:51 p.m. on the night of Obama’s speech Media Matters, the Democratic media operation, issued an Action Alert claiming that Section 246 was “Proof That “You Lie!” Was A Lie” and that “in reality, Rep. Wilson is the liar.”
The Media Matters meme about Section 246 has been picked up by many bloggers, including Jason Linkins at Huffington Post, who cited Media Matters as having proved that “what’s been completely glossed over by the press is the fact that the ‘You Lie!’ was itself built upon a lie.” A blogger at DailyKos declared “Healthcare Bill, HR 3200 Sec 246 proves Wilson a liar.”
But of course, the fools in the blogosphere who either did not read the words of Section 246 or chose to ignore the fact that Section 246 only applies to “affordability credits” were not to be outdone.
Keith Olbermann, the Fool-in-Chief, went on a rant last night on MSNBC about how Joe Wilson was a liar and wrong. The proof? Section 246!
Here’s the video (starting at 3:00), notice how Olbermann mumbles over the words “for affordability credits” when he reads (at 3:45) the language of Section 246:
Olbermann yelled at Wilson: “When are you going to apologize for your lack of being right?” How ironic.
As I have said, I don’t think Obama’s being wrong on the House Bill proves that he is a “liar.” The House Bill is dense and hard to understand.
But Media Matters’ successful campaign to spread the fiction that Section 246 “proves” that Obama was correct and that Wilson was “a liar” shows how effective Media Matters can be at shaping an issue. Particularly when there are gullible or deceitful fools willing to listen.