Fox’s Shep Smith Takes Down Fox News Talking Point On Public Option: ‘It’s Not A Government Takeover!’

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"Fox’s Shep Smith Takes Down Fox News Talking Point On Public Option: ‘It’s Not A Government Takeover!’"

“Why would we not want a public option?” Shep Smith asked Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), kicking off a tense and lively exchange this afternoon on Fox News. When Barrasso quickly launched into his Frank Luntz-inspired GOP talking points, calling it a “government take-over of health care,” Smith — who’s been known to go off the Fox News reservation from time to time — pushed back:

SMITH: It’s not a government take over, Senator! That’s not fair and we both know it. It’s not a government takeover because what it would be is a government option if you have insurance now and you like it you can keep it. … That’s not a government take over if we’re being fair is it Senator?

Barrasso struggled to muster a response. “Well compare it to Medicare, which we know right now is going bankrupt,” he said. Later, Smith engaged in fierce advocacy in favor of the public option:

SMITH: As the costs have gone up, the insurance industry’s profits on average have gone up more than 350 percent and it’s the insurance companies which have paid and have contributed to Senators and congressman on both sides of the aisle to the point where now, we can’t get…what more than 60 percent of Americans say they support, is a public option. This has been an enormous win for the health care industry. That is an unquestioned fact. [...]

[E]very vote against a public option is a vote for the insurance companies, sir. It is!

Again, Barrasso replied with trite talking points. “We’re not even allowing the people of America to read the bill,” he said, later adding that “Washington is incapable” of running health care. “I want to be clear,” Smith told Barrasso, “this wouldn’t be Washington running the system, Senator. It would be a government run plan paid for by the people who sign up for the plan.” Watch it:

As Smith railed against insurance companies, Barrasso responded, “I’m not going to defend the insurance companies — I’ve been fighting them for the last 25 years of practicing medicine.” In fact, the Wyoming senator has received a considerable amount of contributions from the health care industry: Over $500,000 from health professionals and nearly $100,000 from the pharmaceuticals and health products industry over his career and nearly $40,000 bundled from health care lobbyists in the last two years.

Fox News constantly peddles the false talking point that the Democratic health care plan would be a “government takeover” (see e.g. Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Greta Van Susteren). Kudos to Smith for letting the Fox audience know that most of their anchors are lying to them.

Transcript:

SMITH: Why would we not want a public option?

BARRASSO: Well let’s take a look at what we do know. My concern is a public or what I consider a government take over of health care.

SMITH: Well I know, right.

BARRASSO: Is going to make it very challenging.

SMITH: It’s not a government take over Senator. That’s not fair and we both know it.

It’s not a government takeover because what it would be is a government option if you have insurance now and you like it you can keep it. If you want the government option, a government run, paid for by those who buy it, government run option to try to keep costs down. That’s not a government take over if we’re being fair is it Senator?

BARRASSO: Well compare it to Medicare, which we know right now is going bankrupt.

[…]

SMITH: Over the last ten years, health care costs in America have skyrocketed. Regular folks cannot afford it. So they tax the system by not getting preventative medicine. They go to the emergency room and are at a last case and we all end up paying for it. As the costs have gone up, the insurance industry’s profits on average have gone up more than 350 percent and it’s the insurance companies which have paid and have contributed to Senators and congressman on both sides of the aisle to the point where now, we can’t get what all concerned on Capitol Hill seem to believe and what more than 60 percent of Americans say they support, is a public option. This has been an enormous win for the health care industry. That is an unquestioned fact.

But I wonder, What happens for the American people when we come out with legislation now which requires everyone to have health care insurance — or many more people — but does not give a public option, therefore millions more people will have to buy insurance from the very corporations that are over charging us and whose profits have gone up 350 percent in the last ten years. It seems like ‘we the people’ are the ones getting the shaft here.

BARRASSO: And we’re not even allowing the people of America to read the bill or know what it costs. You’re absolutely right. I’m not going to defend the insurance companies. I’ve been fighting them for the last twenty-five years of practicing medicine.

SMITH: But with every vote against the public option, is a vote for the insurance companies, sir.

BARRASSO: No it’s not, no I disagree with you.

SMITH: It is. How can you disagree with that? It is the public option that would keep costs in check, which would keep prices in check, which would stop the big corporations, which have made 350 percent improvements in their profits over the last ten years. A public option would stop it, what else would stop that?

BARRASSO: I don’t believe that — you know — I don’t believe that at all, and that’s why they can’t even get the sixty votes that Senator Baucus had for it. […]

All of the studies in Washington show that Washington is incapable — incapable — of dealing with the waste and the fraud and the abuse in the system, and you’re going to see more of that. The more government take over you have of that the more that Washington runs the system, the worse it’s going to be for the American people.

SMITH: I want to be clear. This wouldn’t be Washington running the system Senator. It would be a government run plan paid for by the people who sign up for the plan.

BARRASSO: Well, that’s a Washington run plan.

SMITH: Yes. Paid for by the people that sign up for the plan. A not-for-profit to try to keep health care costs down. And that’s what in recent polls that more than sixty percent of Americans say they favor

BARRASSO: 100 percent of Americans want to keep the cost down, and so do I, that’s what I’ve been working for by the medical director of something called the Wyoming health fairs, to give people positive incentives to get their costs down and stay healthy.

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