Newsweek Editor: Health Care Bill a 'Fiscal Fraud' But 'I'd Still Vote for It'

Over the weekend, Newsweek assistant managing editor Evan Thomas offered an intriguing insight into the MSM's approach to the liberal health care bill slowly rolling its way through the Democratic-controlled Congress. After conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer accurately pointed out how the Senate bill only pretends to be "deficit-neutral" by front-loading the tax collection process while delaying the payouts, Thomas agreed: "Charles is right. This bill is a fiscal fraud."

But he quickly added: "I'd still vote for it."

NPR's Nina Totenberg attempted to defend the Senate bill as one that "actually tries to do something about costs." But she, too, was insistent on the need for congressional passage: "I am not saying it's ideal. But we have to start this. But if we don't get a health care bill this time, it is probably the last chance."

MRC intern Mike Sargent caught the exchange on the panel show "Inside Washington," which airs at various times over the weekend on a number of Washington-area stations, including the ABC affiliate WJLA:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: The fraudulence of these numbers is absolutely staggering, and I'll explain to you why. The benefits kick in in 2015, so outlays are only for half of that decade. The taxes and the cuts, the presumed spending cuts, all kick in at the beginning. You've got 10 years of money in and five years of outlay, so of course it will produce a deficit - I mean, a surplus. If you start of 2015 and go until the end of time, the amount of deficit added every decade is going to be about half a trillion. So once you start - When the program starts, it will be annually - it will cause a huge deficit annually. That is an absolutely phony number that Reid gave us.

EVAN THOMAS: Charles is right. This bill is a fiscal fraud. I'd still vote for it, because I think it's a good thing to extend benefits and start down the road to universal and - because of the health insurance. But we have to be - if we were honest about it, we would say that we have not dealt with the money piece of it, with the cost thing, that we're going to have to deal with. We're going to kick that down the road and have to deal with it later.

KRAUTHAMMER: How do you do that?

NINA TOTENBERG: The thing about the health care bill, though, is that - the Senate bill - is that it actually tries to do something about costs. It its starts down that road.

THOMAS: It doesn't! It doesn't, it's as fake as a $2 bill. You don't get serious about costs.

TOTENBERG: Unlike the House bill, it tries to do things about cost. I am not saying it's ideal. But we have to start this. But if we don't get a health care bill this time, it is probably the last chance....

-Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center.