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Another Day, Another Republican Parroting Frank Luntz

As John noted, when is someone going to challenge one of these guys when they spew this garbage on these Sunday shows? Can a sister get a follow up qu
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As John noted, when is someone going to challenge one of these guys when they spew this garbage on these Sunday shows? Can a sister get a follow up question around here? Just askin'. Sorry if it's expecting just a little too much to think that you might actually consider something like doing your job, and not allowing guests to lie to you if you want to call yourself an anchor on a "news" channel.

Here we go again with another Republican being allowed to repeat the Frank Luntz list of talking points for health care on national television, unchallenged. Wouldn't it be nice if we could make them all have to debate Bernie Sanders instead, so the public is not misinformed day after day?

How many Luntz talking points can you spot in this interview?

SCHIEFFER: So, is he being straight with us?

MCCONNELL: Well, let’s start at the beginning. They teach every first-semester medical student, “Do no harm.” And what the president did not talk about yesterday is his ambitious plan to have a government insurance plan, in effect, that essentially crowds out of the private market all the competition that we have among insurance companies today to have a national rationing board which would determine what kind of treatments would be available for American citizens.

Those, typically, in single-payer countries like Canada and Britain involve delays in treatment, denial of care, that kind of thing. All of that really ought to be put aside if we want to get a truly bipartisan proposal.

The Medicare cuts that the president was talking about yesterday were not in the context of making the current program more sustainable, Bob. We have an unsustainable Medicare and Medicaid now.

The president is talking about looking at those cuts in the context of expanding coverage far beyond what we have.

This is 16 percent of the economy, as we all know. It’s an enormously important subject. We can make incredible improvements in American health care, but I don’t think having more government; in effect putting Washington between you and your doctor, is the way to go.

What we ought to be dealing with are things like litigation reform, things like wellness programs. That’s one thing I think we can all agree on.

The CEO of Safeway is a very impressive man that we’ve all heard from who’s been able to bring the health care costs of his company dramatically down by emphasizing things like obesity control, eliminating smoking, to the maximum extent possible, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, more exercise. There are a number of things that we can do to improve our health care system.

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SCHIEFFER: Let me just start with a couple of things that you’ve said here. The president’s people will tell you that he is not proposing any kind of a rationing board.

They would also say to you that, when he’s proposing a public insurance option, that is just to give people another option if they don’t want to go -- that, if they want to keep their private insurance, that’s OK, and that it’s not going to crowd any of that out, so...

MCCONNELL: I know they say that, Bob, but in fact, if the government is in the insurance business, there won’t be any other insurers. It’s inevitable because the taxpayers will be backing up the program.

We’ve seen a, kind of, version of that over in the auto takeover. You’ve got Ford Motor Company, which makes Ford vehicles in my hometown -- it didn’t take any government money -- now having to compete with a government-controlled General Motors acceptance corporation, trying to finance their cars in competition with the government financing company. And they’re having a hard time doing it.

We know that, if the government gets in this business, pretty soon nobody else will be in the business.

SCHIEFFER: Is that a deal- breaker for you and for Republicans?

Because he seems to be insisting that this public option, which would be very much like Medicare for older people now; this would be something where the government, you could opt for that rather than private insurance.

SCHIEFFER: But is that a deal-breaker, as far as you’re concerned?

MCCONNELL: I think that, for virtually every Republican, a government plan is a non-starter. There are a whole lot of other things we can agree to do on a bipartisan basis that will dramatically improve our system.

But we already have the best health care in the world. We know it costs a lot, but we have the best health care in the world. And I don’t think many Americans want to start having to, you know, wait in line and start getting government permission for procedures. We need to be very careful about taking the wrong steps.

SCHIEFFER: What would you feel about taxing existing health-care benefits? During the campaign, we remember that candidate Obama criticized John McCain , because he said that’s what John McCain was trying to do.

We now understand, though, that the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Democrat Max Baucus , is including that, that perhaps there would be some tax on some existing health-care benefits. We’re also told that the White House says nothing is off the table. Although this morning Joe Biden, the vice president, said that’s a bad way to go.

MCCONNELL: Well, the finance committee is beginning to look at how you would pay for this massive expansion of health care. As I indicated earlier, we’re having a hard time paying for the health care -- the government health care we already have, Medicare and Medicaid. Now they’re trying to grapple with how to pay for the expansions. It will not be easy.

SCHIEFFER: Would you -- would you encourage that, tapping existing..

MCCONNELL: Let me tell you what I would do if I were in charge. I would equalize the tax treatment between companies and individuals. Right now, if you work for a company that provides you health care, the government allows a tax deduction to the company for providing the care. If you’re an employee who does not have health care, it’s not deductible.

I would equalize the tax treatment, which would be a way of beginning to deal with the problems of the uninsured, which is what has motivated us to tackle this issue in the first place. And second, I’m not going back over the whole wellness argument again, but the government needs to be massively incentivizing wellness programs across the country. That is what we’re...

SCHIEFFER: But what about -- what about this taxing increase?

MCCONNELL: Well, I think how much you might need in terms of revenue depends on what you decide to do. So I don’t think know we ought to, at the outset here, be talking about tax increases. We ought to be talking about how to make the current system we have work better.

Here are those Frank Luntz talking points one more time:

(1) Humanize your approach. Abandon and exile ALL references to the “healthcare system.” From now on, healthcare is about people. Before you speak, think of the three components of tone that matter most: Individualize. Personalize. Humanize.

(2) Acknowledge the “crisis” or suffer the consequences. If you say there is no healthcare crisis, you give your listener permission to ignore everything else you say. It is a credibility killer for most Americans. A better approach is to define the crisis in your terms. “If you’re one of the millions who can’t afford healthcare, it is a crisis.” Better yet, “If some bureaucrat puts himself between you and your doctor, denying you exactly what you need, that’s a crisis.” And the best: “If you have to wait weeks for tests and months for treatment, that’s a healthcare crisis.”

(3) “Time” is the government healthcare killer. As Mick Jagger once sang, “Time is on Your Side.” Nothing else turns people against the government takeover of healthcare than the realistic expectation that it will result in delayed and potentially even denied treatment, procedures and/or medications. “Waiting to buy a car or even a house won’t kill you. But waiting for the healthcare you need – could. Delayed care is denied care.”

(4) The arguments against the Democrats’ healthcare plan must center around “politicians,” “bureaucrats,” and “Washington” … not the free market, tax incentives, or competition. Stop talking economic theory and start personalizing the impact of a government takeover of healthcare. They don’t want to hear that you’re opposed to government healthcare because it’s too expensive (any help from the government to lower costs will be embraced) or because it’s anti-competitive (they don’t know about or care about current limits to competition). But they are deathly afraid that a government takeover will lower their quality of care – so they are extremely receptive to the anti-Washington approach. It’s not an economic issue. It’s a bureaucratic issue.

(5) The healthcare denial horror stories from Canada & Co. do resonate, but you have to humanize them. You’ll notice we recommend the phrase “government takeover” rather than “government run” or “government controlled” It’s because too many politician say “we don’t want a government run healthcare system like Canada or Great Britain” without explaining those consequences. There is a better approach. “In countries with government run healthcare, politicians make YOUR healthcare decisions. THEY decide if you’ll get the procedure you need, or if you are disqualified because the treatment is too expensive or because you are too old. We can’t have that in America.”

(6) Healthcare quality = “getting the treatment you need, when you need it.” That is how Americans define quality, and so should you. Once again, focus on the importance of timeliness, but then add to it the specter of “denial.” Nothing will anger Americans more than the chance that they will be denied the healthcare they need for whatever reason. This is also important because it is an attribute of a government healthcare system that the Democrats CANNOT offer. So say it. “The plan put forward by the Democrats will deny people treatments they need and make them wait to get the treatments they are allowed to receive.”

(7) “One-size-does-NOT-fit-all.” The idea that a “committee of Washington bureaucrats” will establish the standard of care for all Americans and decide who gets what treatment based on how much it costs is anathema to Americans. Your approach? Call for the “protection of the personalized doctor-patient relationship.” It allows you to fight to protect and improve something good rather than only fighting to prevent something bad.

(8) WASTE, FRAUD, and ABUSE are your best targets for how to bring down costs. Make no mistake: the high cost of healthcare is still public enemy number one on this issue – and why so many Americans (including Republicans and conservatives) think the Democrats can handle healthcare better than the GOP. You can’t blame it on the lack of a private market; in case you missed it, capitalism isn’t exactly in vogue these days. But you can and should blame it on the waste, fraud, and abuse that is rampant in anything and everything the government controls.

(9) Americans will expect the government to look out for those who truly can’t afford healthcare. Here is the perfect sentence for addressing cost and the limited role for government that wins you allies rather than enemies: “A balanced, common sense approach that provides assistance to those who truly need it and keeps healthcare patient-centered rather than government-centered for everyone.”

(10) It’s not enough to just say what you’re against. You have to tell them what you’re for. It’s okay (and even necessary) for your campaign to center around why this healthcare plan is bad for America. But if you offer no vision for what’s better for America, you’ll be relegated to insignificance at best and labeled obstructionist at worst. What Americans are looking for in healthcare that your “solution” will provide is, in a word, more: “more access to more treatments and more doctors…with less interference from insurance companies and Washington politicians and special interests.”

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