Friday, November 13, 2009
David Broder doesn't read his own paper:
on the health care bill: (h/t Balloon Juice
While House Democrats spent the week congratulating themselves for squeezing out the midnight passage of their version of health-care reform, neutral observers were reminding them: You've left the job half done.
One of them speaks with special authority: David Walker, the former head of the Government Accountability Office ... now president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation,
An analysis by the Lewin Group shows ...
A separate Lewin Group study ... shows ...
You already know about the Peterson Foundation. But what about the Lewin Group? Are they "neutral observers"?
From the Washington Post article on the Lewin Group:
Research Firm Cited by GOP Is Owned by Health Insurer
The political battle over health-care reform is waged largely with numbers, and few number-crunchers have shaped the debate as much as the Lewin Group, a consulting firm whose research has been widely cited by opponents of a public insurance option.
To Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, it is "the nonpartisan Lewin Group." To Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, it is an "independent research firm." To Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the pivotal Finance Committee, it is "well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country."
Generally left unsaid amid all the citations is that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest insurers.
It's not that Broder doesn't read his own paper. Rather, it's that Broder always shills for the GOP, yet couches that shilling in centrist" and "bi-partisan" language.
Thus he writes about these studies commissioned and paid for by right-wing or industry interests as though the studies are completely neutral. Just as he has previously written that the Republicans' complete and vocal rejection of Obama's outreach attempts shows that Obama is not reaching out in the spirit of bipartisanship.
What sort of expertise on health insurance could one of the nation's largest insurers possibly have?!?
Certainly not more than Barack Obama and his friends.
Anonymous from 11/15 is right. We should certainly treat the self-serving reports from the industry in both as gospel and as the basis for any possible reforms.
Likewise, since I know more about me that anyone in government, it is imperative that I be given $1 billion tax free within the next three weeks. There can be no arguing with this--I know me, you don't know me, and I'm telling you that $1 billion is an absolute necessity for both myself and the good of the country.
The fact that a study on health insurance was funded by a health insurance company doesn't invalidate the study. The Lewin Group claims neutrality and editorial independence. Are you disputing that?
Are you claiming that the specific reports linked to by Broder are misleading or erroneous? Do you have specific problems with their findings or not?
I only ask because a guilt-by-association smear is usually a last-ditch resort. It's telling that it seems to be all you've got.
Anonymous on 11/16: The sad thing is that if you personally knew Obama or one of his inside crew, you'd probably get your $1B.
Well, I know a lot of people and organizations that claim neutrality or to be based on 'sound science'. Unfortunately many of them are anything but. Any study that supports the position of the entity financing it should be the target of healthy scepticism and that even in absence of a monetary motive. Insurance companies have monetary interests in the multi-billion dollar range, so I would distrust them even if they claimed that water is wet, 2+4=4 or that it's dark in absence of light.
There's a difference between healthy scepticism and preemptive dismissal.
A perfectly reasonable line of attack would be to quote some of the Lewin analysis, prove it to be false or misleading, then bring out the funding source as an explanation.
But all Quiddity has done is start and end with their funding source, which is hardly concealed. It's on their web site and is disclosed on page 1 of the report.
Yet this is presented as the Great Revelation. As if that's all that needs to be known about it. No need to bother critiquing or analyzing the report to condemn the authors as being biased.
My point is this. Quiddity is implying that Peterson and Lewin are not "neutral observers." Yet he cannot or will not point to a single biased sentence in the report.