David Gregory tried his best to shove Republican talking points about the Affordable Care Act down Nancy Pelosi’s throat, but the former Speaker was too smart for him.
Watch here via MSNBC:
First Gregory attempted to corner Pelosi into the frame Republicans are pushing, which is that repealing ACA is doable and hence something they can campaign on. Nancy not only got in her talking points about why ACA is going to be good for the American people, but she zinged him by pointing out that the fight is not between Democrats and Republicans but between Democrats and insurance companies (masquerading as Republicans).
Transcript via MSNBC (emphasis added):
Pelosi: As far as we’re concerned, the victory is there for the American people. If you’re a person with a child with diabetes, no longer will they be discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition. If you’re a woman, no longer will you have to pay more. No longer will being a woman be a pre-existing medical condition. You pay less for your prescription drugs. And nothing for a preventive wellness checkup. And for everybody, no more lifetime limits on the coverage you receive. This and for other reasons, if you are a young person, you can be on your parents’ policy if you both agree to that. And so for the American people, yes, the fight is over. Others will try to challenge, but –
Gregory: Well, Republicans have said they won’t waste any time to try to repeal this. Is that fantasy from your point of view?
Pelosi: It’s being the mouthpiece of the health insurance industry. And we’re saying let’s not have them be in charge anymore. Let the people be in charge of how they receive coverage and health care.
Oh, ouch Nancy.
Gregory tried to say that the American people don’t like ACA and it’s because the President hasn’t done his job selling it. Nancy countered by pointing out that in fact, the healthcare industry spent $200 million on ads to ensure that the American people didn’t like it (also, Frank Luntz helped Republicans muddy the waters, Fox News gave free air time to kill it, and Sarah Palin’s death panels sure helped).
Gregory: Don’t you acknowledge, even it’s passed the Supreme Court, there’s still a lot of work to be done by this president to persuade the American people this is a good thing for them, to, in essence, win the argument, which he hasn’t done?
Pelosi: Well, I think that he did very well the day that the bill got the approval so, to speak, but the decision was made and announced by the Supreme Court. But, yes, it’s always a conversation with the public, especially when you think that the health insurance industry spent $200 million putting out negative misrepresentations about the health care bill, when it was on the floor and coming to fruition and since. $200 million.
Gregory hammered home the Republican talking point that this is a “tax” on the American people, to which Pelosi countered no, it’s a tax break/credit for those who buy insurance and a penalty for those who can afford health insurance but choose not to take responsibility for themselves by having it:
Gregory: That’s not how it was sold to the American people. That’s not how it was sold to the American people.
Pelosi: It’s a penalty. It’s a penalty that comes under the tax code for the 1% perhaps of the population who may decide that they’re going to be free riders. But that does not affect most people.
Gregory: But it is a tax on the American people.
Pelosi: No. It’s a penalty for free riders. But since you’re bringing up the subject, it’s important to note the middle-income families will get about $4,000 in tax breaks and tax credits in order to have their health insurance, to buy their health insurance. So middle-income families make out very well in this. Businesses get tax credits to provide health insurance for their workers. So what we’re saying is is those who take responsibility get the protections of this bill.
Gregory tried to pass a question based on the premise that Democrats lost the House because of the Affordable Care Act, “You’re confident, given the heavy toll that the health care fight exacted on the president and on the parties and on the loss of control of the House, that Democrats in the House and Senate running in tight re-election races, they are going to wholeheartedly embrace health care reform and campaign on it?”
But Nancy corrected him again, pointing out that unemployment was high. Of course, neither of them pointed to the truth that mid term elections often fall to the opposing party (see George W. Bush, Gregory), as the American people don’t like one party to be in charge without checks and balances.
Gregory’s assumption that Democrats lost power in 2010 because of the Affordable Care Act is also questionable because Democrats maintained power in the more powerful Senate. The American people were nervous and unhappy, but not enough to give the reins back to Republicans. They gave Republicans the chamber with the least power, and those elections were the most localized.
Then she used Gregory’s talking points that if the Democrats lost the House because of unemployment then the President will lose the November election for the same reason, to push for overturning Citizens United. Pointing to the influence of dark money, Pelosi dared Republicans to get on board in disclosing campaign money, “And I add to the abcs of that a dare, a dare to reduce the role of money in campaigns because you cannot separate the policy from the politics. The bread box and the ballot box are connected, and they are. So we are daring, disclose. I’m Nancy Pelosi and I support this ad. They should disclose, too. Amend the constitution to overturn Citizens United. Reform the system to reduce the role of money. And elect reformers of either party or any party.”
Naturally, Gregory ignored this plea for transparent campaign money.
Pelosi also managed to work in all that the President did with no help from Republicans regarding unemployment, but I wish she would have asked Gregory to address the question regarding unemployment to his next Republican guest. Shouldn’t Gregory ask them why they refuse to pass any jobs bill but the veteran’s job bill?
Gregory kept talking over Pelosi – badgering her and treating her like an enemy combatant. Shouldn’t he be on Fox News with this attitude? Sure, a good journalist should push, but this is far from Gregory’s obsequious feeding of unchecked propaganda when he’s interviewing a Republican. Every single question he asked was based on a Republican premise as a given fact, rather than posited as an objective question. He could have said, “Republicans claim -” but instead he presented the Republican claim as reality and tried to force her to counter it.
Pelosi is too smart for David Gregory, and she easily knocked down his talking points and used the open window to get in easy to remember facts about what ACA will do for the American people, while also managing to bring some sunshine to the Republican desire to keep their campaign money dark. Let this be a lesson to all elected officials who care about democracy — when you are interviewed about any topic, find a way to discuss the damaging influence of Citizens United on democracy, because the corporate funded main stream media won’t bring it up.
Pelosi’s interview was the cherry on top of a very good week.