Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Pass the damn bill (#9) - Warren Buffett

The only reason this is worth mentioning is that yesterday Fox News and the right-wing blogosphere were buzzing with reports that in a CNBC interview Warren Buffett, the "Oracle of Omaha," had said that Obama and the Democrats should "Start Over on Health Care". On "Fox and Friends," for example, the co-hosts claimed that Buffett "simply cannot go along with" the current health care reform bill and that "he called health care reform a tapeworm that is basically sucking the life out of the economy."

All lies, distortions, and misrepresentations, of course. (What else is new?) What Buffett called a "tapeworm" was, unsurprisingly, health care costs and not health care reform. And Buffett's bottom line was that, given the choice right now between doing nothing about health care reform passing the Senate bill, "I would vote for the Senate bill."

Buffett did add that, in the abstract, he "would much rather see a plan C that really attacks costs." He's not happy about the current bill. But at the moment, the real-world alternatives are, as Buffett put it, "plan A, which is what we've got, or plan B, what is in front of--the Senate bill"; and given that choice, to repeat, he "would vote for the Senate bill."

As Ezra Klein remarked, apropos of the way Fox News twisted Buffett's statements inside-out, "I continue to be amazed that lying brazenly to your audience is such a good business strategy." Amazing, yes, but not especially surprising.

Meanwhile, on the substantive question, Buffett's conclusion is correct. Whatever one might wish for in a more ideal world, in the real world it's time to Pass The Damn Bill.

--Jeff Weintraub

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Ezra Klein
March 2, 2010; 10:21 AM ET
Warren Buffett: 'I would vote for the Senate bill.'

I've been getting some e-mail lately about Warren Buffett apparently attacking health-care reform. Turns out he didn't, but that Fox News is saying he did. The relevant quote comes from an interview Buffett gave to CNBC on Monday. "If it was a choice today between plan A, which is what we've got, or plan B, the Senate bill, I would vote for the Senate bill. But I would much rather see a plan C that really attacks costs."

So would I, and so would the Obama administration. No one is saying the Senate bill is perfect. But they're saying it's far preferable to the status quo. Fox News, meanwhile, is saying that Buffett said "he simply cannot go along with this particular health care bill." In fact, he said the exact opposite. I continue to be amazed that lying brazenly to your audience is such a good business strategy.

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