Here's something we don't see every day, but should. And it could be convincingly argued that the lack of journalism of this sort was the catalyst behind progressive blogs. The author ditches the equation he said + she said = objectivity and lays out some cold, hard facts.
That was just the beginning of what turned into a Category 5 hurricane on the blogosphere. Typical of the tone was what Mark Steyn wrote on National Review Online: "Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and tough choices. But, if this is the face of the 'needy' in America, then no one is not needy." Nameless commenters to conservative blogs were even harsher. "Let 'em twist in the wind and be eaten by ravens," wrote one one on Redstate.com, who was quoted in the Baltimore Sun. "Then maybe the bunch of socialist patsies will think twice."
It turns out, however, that not everything about the Frosts' life pops up on a Google search. While Graeme does attend a private school, he does so on scholarship. Halsey Frost is a self-employed woodworker; he and his wife say they earn between $45,000 and $50,000 a year to provide for their family of six. Their 1936 rowhouse was purchased in 1990 for $55,000. It was vacant and in a run-down neighborhood that has improved since then, in part because of people like themselves who took a chance. It is now assessed at $263,140, though under state law the value of that asset is not taken into account in determining their eligibility for SCHIP. And while they are still uninsured, they claim it is most certainly not by choice. Bonnie Frost says the last time she priced health coverage, she learned it would cost them $1,200 a month.
In short, just as the radio spot claimed, the Frosts are precisely the kind of people that the SCHIP program was intended to help.
Nicely done, and highly recommended. Although we really shouldn't find ourselves immensely grateful to journalists and magazines like Time for simply sharing the facts.
The Carpetbagger adds another insightful bit of info on a high-profile conservative who eagerly jumped into the fray:
As for one of the leading members of the right-wing mob, Michelle Malkin whined the other day that too few of us on the left fail to recognize a “good-faith argument.”
When Ezra Klein offered a debate on SCHIP, Malkin responded in good faith:
"'Debate' Ezra Klein? What a perverse distraction and a laughable waste of time that would be. And that’s what they really want, isn’t it? To distract and waste time so they can foist their agenda on the country unimpeded."
Man, talk about the Bush era axiom 'If they accuse you of it, they're doing it themselves.' Social security privatization, any one? And to demonstrate that her argument has nothing to do with SCHIP and everything to do with hypocritical demagoguery, here's the punchline. Malkin's own words from 2004:
After my husband quit his job earlier this year (to become a full-time stay-at-home dad), we had a choice. We could either buy health insurance from his former employer through a program called COBRA at a cost of more than $1,000 per month(!) or we could go it alone in Maryland’s individual market. Given our financial circumstances, that “choice” wasn’t much of a choice at all. We had to go on our own.
We discovered that the most generous plans in Maryland’s individual market cost $700 per month yet provide no more than $1,500 per year of prescription drug coverage–a drop in the bucket if someone in our family were to be diagnosed with a serious illness.
With health insurance choices like that, no wonder so many people opt to go uninsured.
Contortionist Michelle Malkin, ladies and gentlemen. She'll no doubt be baffling audiences and duping the gullible for years to come. Thank you, and don't forget to not tip your server-- that leads to Bolshevism.
UPDATE: Jonathan Cohn has a long, long piece up at TNR on the same thing. And it's the place to go for all the details on SCHIP you could want. Nice rhetorical flourish at the end, too, if a bit soft on all the reactionary shitheads out there:
[I]t's not just the most destitute Americans who need assistance getting health insurance. It's people who have jobs, make a decent living, and own their homes. And when medical crisis hits, they're forced to take drastic steps--like selling their homes, depleting life savings, declaring bankruptcy, or simply going without the care they and their loved ones need. Unless, of course, the government provides them with insurance at affordable rates.
Maybe that's why polls show large majorities of Americans supporting S-CHIP expansion and, increasingly, the creation of a universal health care system guaranteeing coverage as a birthright.
And maybe that is why the right is getting so desperate. They know they are defending a hopelessly dysfunctional system--a system in which even the middle class can struggle.