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M.D. Harmon: LoFo voters, biased media bolster Obamacare apologists

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One of the current political buzzwords is “LoFo voter,” a short way to describe “low-information” members of the electorate who either rarely pay attention to the news, or who get their information from sources that offer lopsided coverage that either distorts events and their meanings or only covers those items that feature one side of an issue.

One-sided coverage is a hallmark of the ideological bias common on some cable news sites (and I do not always exclude Fox News from that statement, although, as one wit correctly quipped recently, “There are more liberals on Fox than there are conservatives on all the other networks combined”).

Liberal sources’ selective coverage often excludes what I call “news of interest to conservatives” (a category that includes “news detrimental to Democrats”).

It is a common feature of mainstream media news coverage. Who has not played the popular parlor game, “Find That Party,” when reading or watching news stories of malfeasance in office? Republicans’ status gets played up in headlines and opening paragraphs, while Democratic affiliation often ends up much further down — if it is mentioned at all.

One of the topics whose coverage varies widely is that marvelous manifesto of medical malfeasance known as Obamacare – a.k.a. the “Affordable” Care Act (sic).

What to do about health care will be the most pressing domestic issue going in the coming congressional and presidential elections, unless of course a total financial collapse occurs before then.

And that leaves out foreign policy. If the current collapse in the Mideast continues to its logical conclusion, it could leave the nation dealing with a region-wide war and nuclear proliferation (via Iran) to terrorist groups.

But that’s down the road, and Obamacare is here now. Its flaws have been well enough discussed that we should look instead at the comment former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made recently that Republicans have “zero” ideas on how to replace it, should fortune smile and it somehow be either repealed or defunded.

But lots of conservatives contest Gingrich’s allegation, saying there are a number of Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who have proposed alternatives. His version, introduced in June as a 250-page bill titled the “Empowering Patients First Act,” has 32 co-sponsors.

Price, who is a practicing orthopedic surgeon, would use tax credits and deductions to “entice individuals into the insurance market with positive incentives, as opposed to Obamacare’s solution of fining those who refuse to purchase health insurance,” according to National Review Online’s Andrew Stiles.

Stiles says “the law would allow individuals to opt out of Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health-care benefit programs in favor of receiving a tax credit.”

Thus, coverage would be “portable” — not tied to an employer or location; high-risk pools would cover the vulnerable and people could buy policies across state lines.

As a necessary adjunct, tort reforms would reduce doctors’ need to order expensive tests as “defensive” safeguards to avoid lawsuits.

Further, Fox News reporter Jim Angle noted, “The plan would give all Americans the same tax benefit as those who now get tax-free insurance from their employers, by putting the power and the money under an individual’s control.”

But Price’s private-coverage plan, along with similar proposals, has gotten lost in the fuss over Obamacare, letting the president claim, as he did in an Aug. 9 news conference, that Republicans don’t have “even a pretense now that they’re going to replace it with something better.”

That’s not true, and as Angle wrote on Aug. 16, “it makes some Republicans livid,” but LoFo voters have few ways to know that.

Until a specific plan is approved by the party and taken up by prominent GOP spokesmen — and just who would that be right now? — Obama can get away with saying it.

Following the adage that correctly holds, “You can’t fight something with nothing,” Deroy Murdock, also an NRO writer, said on Aug. 16 that congressional Republicans need to “plant their rumps into some hard chairs and unify around a single GOP alternative to Obamacare.”

His proposal for a “Patient Power Act of 2013″ would include elements from Price’s plan and add others. It would:

— Repeal Obamacare.

— Create a “robust market in which individuals — not bosses or politicians — can choose to own and control portable health plans.”

— Shift tax-deductibility of premiums “from employers to employees, to help workers purchase the coverage that they — not CEOs or senators — prefer.”

— Let people buy health coverage across state lines, the same way life, car and home insurance policies are purchased.

— Free Americans to open “voluntary, tax-free Health Savings Accounts from which they can finance over-the-counter drugs, routine medical care and catastrophic insurance for severe ailments.”

— “Entice doctors to deduct from their taxes the dollar value of their charity case for poor and uninsured patients. Let a million free clinics bloom.”

— Fix the medical malpractice system, which drives up costs.

— Establish high-risk pools for people with costly pre-existing conditions.

— And finally, limit federal input to supplying subsidies to those whose other options fall through.

As he notes, “Rather than ruin medicine for 316 million people, government should assist the tough cases who cannot secure help elsewhere.”

But what’s missing? “Leadership,” Murdock says. “On this issue, and too many others, congressional Republicans are like skillful mechanics riding a runaway freight train with no one in the locomotive.”

Before Obamacare turns the entire nation’s health care economy into a vast Lac Megantic (the Canadian town destroyed by a train with no engineer), the GOP needs to take direct, effective action to unite on and pass a solid plan (at least in the House).

That will create a real alternative to Obamacare, allowing the party to promote it widely to demonstrate how to empower people, not bureaucrats.

That will shut some mouths, in the Oval Office and elsewhere, and set loose a substantive debate involving genuine reform.

Or, we can go on the way we are, and lose yet another winnable set of elections to a gaggle of liberals whose idea of good government is government that’s good for them.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at: mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

About M.D. Harmon

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at: mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

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