Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Franken Versus the Hudson Institute

This is an old item from late October, but it's great and I never got around to posting it. The short clip is from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on medical debt. Senator Al Franken is questioning Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the right-wing Hudson Institute. She's claimed that (as Think Progress puts it) "moving towards a European-style system of universal health care would increase bankruptcies." Franken challenges her on this:

A partial transcript:

FRANKEN: I think we disagree on whether health care reform, the health care reform that we’re talking about in Congress now should pass. You said that the way we’re going will increase bankruptcies. I want to ask you, how many medical bankruptcies because of medical crises were there last year in Switzerland?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number in front of me, but I can find out and get back to you.

FRANKEN: I can tell you how many it was. It’s zero. Do you know how many medical bankruptcies there were last year in France?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number, but I can get back to you if I like.

FRANKEN: Yeah, the number is zero. Do you know how many were in Germany?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: From the trend of your questions, I’m assuming the number is zero. But I don’t know the precise number and would have to get back to you.

FRANKEN: Well, you’re very good. Very fast. The point is, I think we need to go in that direction, not the opposite direction. Thank you.

The partial transcript comes from , which has a number of other links on the hearings, and the staggering, crippling rate of medical bankruptcies in America:

Medical bankruptcies are an epidemic in the United States. According to a peer-reviewed study published earlier this year in the American Journal of Medicine, nearly 62 percent of all U.S. bankruptcies in 2007 were due to health care costs — and 78 percent of people who were driven into bankruptcy by their medical bills had insurance.

Franken has been doing this sort of debunking since at least 1996 in Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot. What's refreshing is that while Furchgott-Rott is an unconscionable hack, Franken's done his homework and exposes her for what she is. Health care wonks do debate on various measures for reform, but the hacks are there to deceive to impede any improvements. It's doubtful that if Furchgott-Rott had studied health care in any depth she wouldn't know the answer to Franken's questions. Nor if she actually wanted to improve the health care system would she outright lie as she does here (Think Progress links her prepared testimony, which contains much more bullshit). Furchgott-Rott may not be as successful in her hackery as the loathsome Betsy McCaughey, but her goal is the same - lying for pay, all to derail health care reform. If more people die as a result, well, too bad. She's got hers.

It'd be nice to have more honest policy debates, but hackdom is ever in fashion, and it seems hacks are rarely challenged, debunked, and exposed. It was refreshing to watch Al Franken do just that, and I hope he continues.


Fran said...

Oh I just love the politician that Franken has become. He is an advocate and a truth-teller and he is relentless in his pursuit of common good.

Recently I went on my husband's insurance and I finally went to the doctor after almost 3 years. I am 52 y.o.

The good news, with some little blips, my health is good. The bad news?

I am sitting here with about $2500-$3000 of bills that are not covered.

And no- I don't have the money. It is so sick and wrong. I have to have a follow up test in January for one (minor) condition but I think I will have to pass it by because it will add another $500.

P.S. Before I closed down my old blog FranIam, I used to have a regular reader from the Hudson Institute. That always made me smile! Near daily and always for anywhere from 1-5 minutes. Go figure.

Unknown said...

A lie can travel half way around the world before the truth gets its shoes on.



Batocchio said...

Good grief, Fran, that's crazy. And one has to be pretty cloistered (some of Congress, most TV talking heads) not to know someone with a similar story.

Thanks, Tim - Twain was very sharp!

Unknown said...

Seen the latest example of lies and the lying liars?



Dr. Zaius said...

Al Franken rocks! Now if we could just elect Janeane Garofalo. :o)