I really don’t know how Joe Conason can manage to sit through these panel segments on Lou Dobbs’ show, but it’s nice to see him on there to disp
October 28, 2009

I really don’t know how Joe Conason can manage to sit through these panel segments on Lou Dobbs’ show, but it’s nice to see him on there to dispel some of the right-wing talking points being thrown around by Dobbs and the other guests. He does a good job countering KellyAnne Conway on the Republicans' newfound love of Medicare, and Dobbs for downplaying some of the profits of the larger insurance companies.

He may not have known that Dobbs was parroting Glenn Beck at the end of the segment. Dobbs needs to just move on over to ClusterFox and get it over with.

CONWAY: The opt out is a canard because if you really want people—if you really want to provide an opt out, allow small business owners to opt out. This administration's policies have been an assault on small business owners, believe me, and or allow seniors to opt out of the cuts in Medicare which are currently on the table.

CONASON: Cuts in the private Medicare.

CONWAY: But Joe it's huge. When people hear it, they think it’s mostly a bad idea.

CONASON: We should discuss what that really is.

CONWAY: Go ahead because, again—explain the differences.

CONASON: It's the $500 billion in cuts. It’s to cut something called Medicare Advantage…

CONWAY: Right, which a lot of seniors rely on.

CONASON: No, it’s a subsidy to private insurance companies to try to compete with Medicare because they can't compete with Medicare. When people complain about a government-run health care program Lou, they're complaining about a program that is very like Medicare which the Republicans now claim to be defending. So it's a very interesting contradiction in their positions. On the one hand, they're trying to save Medicare, that government run program. On the other hand, they don't want anyone else to have it…

LEWIS: (Inaudible) benefits financially from getting rid of Medicare Advantage. So I mean there's a lot of hypocrisy going around. What about the idea…

CONASON: What does that have to do with it?

LEWIS: Because I think that's one of the big groups pushing for this. What about the idea of bipartisanship? I mean Harry Reid and the Democrats had a Republican, Olympia Snowe. That would give them cover that said they would pass a bipartisan, a bipartisan health care bill. They’ve slapped her in the face. I mean, that is a very serious thing. They’ve essentially sold her down the river.

CONASON: They decided she's wrong on the policy issue and they don’t need to cater to her to get one Republican vote

DOBBS: Let me ask you this. The Associated Press reports on the profits of health care insurance companies, a unique report over the weekend. The insurance health care companies have been vilified in this debate by this administration, by this president, by the Democratic leadership about the onerous profits that they're enjoying. It turns out according to the Associated Press survey of these companies that they have averaged 2.2 percent profits, ranked 35 out of 53 industries on the Fortune 500. Has there -- is there just the slightest possibility that the rhetoric has exceeded reality to the point that it can be a problem in moving forward?

PLAUT: I think if they covered pre-existing conditions, they would do a lot to kind of improve Americans' views of them. I think they kind of…


DOBBS: I'm asking you about the administration's problems in public relations, not that of the insurance companies that have a major problem. They're being vilified by a sitting president with 2.2 percent profits, ranking 35th out of 53 industry groups in the Fortune 500.

CONASON: Do they all have 2 percent profits…

DOBBS: I think I used the expression average Joe.

CONASON: So some of them are very large and have much higher profits than that and you know it.

DOBBS: Joe, please.

LEWIS: I think Democrats went on record saying this industry has the highest profits of any industry. In fact, we're 35th.

CONASON: I don't think the President ever said that.

LEWIS: I didn’t say the President said it. I said Democrats were on record saying it.

CONWAY: There's a huge boogie man they have been trying to vilify along the way and the President has to stop being this tennis referee. He has to jump into the game.

DOBBS: And the President has stopped vilifying and demonizing doctors. He's quit talking about ripping tonsils out of young children and amputating feet. That's to the good. Will we see a similar retreat when it comes to the insurance companies?

CONASON: Well, you know I think they're going to try to make the companies come in and try to make a deal where for example their monopoly...

DOBBS: This sounds like it's not going to lead to a direct response to my question.

LEWIS: That's the Chicago way. If you don't make a deal…

DOBBS: Thank you all so much. Appreciate it.

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