Time.com corrects reports on Betsy Markey's health care vote

WhoSaidYouSaid.com Oct. 18, 2010

An Oct. 7 story from Time.com's "2010 Races to Watch" focused on Colorado's 4th Congressional District. On the whole, the story was balanced, and – considering that it was written by someone outside the state – reasonably insightful about the district and the race between Republican challenger Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo.

However, the story did contain one important factual error. While pointing out that Markey has generally voted according to the Democratic agenda in Washington, the initial story reported that she did "vote against health care reform…"

Actually, she voted against it before she voted for it. [In the video above from March 20, 2010, the day before the key vote, Pres. Obama addressed House Democrats and singled out Markey for her support. He repeated the praise last week.]

In November 2009, Markey had voted against the health reform bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives 220-215. At the time, she said that while she liked certain parts of the bill, she did not support it because "it simply does not do enough to cut the health care costs that are crushing our businesses and families." She said she hoped to support a bill that is "fiscally sustainable in the long-term."

The Senate then took up the House bill, amended it substantially, and sent it back to the House. At that point, following the election of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., on a platform opposing the health control law, passage of the bill appeared perilous. Speaker Pelosi delayed the vote as she twisted arms to round up the final Democratic votes. One of those votes came from Markey. A few days before the final vote, she announced her support, because, she said, this is "probably the largest deficit-reduction bill that I'll ever have the chance to vote on in Congress."

We contacted Time reporter Jay Newton-Small, and brought this to her attention. A few days later, the article was revised online, removing the line about Markey voting against health-care reform. At the end of the article, the following was added: "The original version of this story misstated that Markey voted against health care reform. While Markey did vote against the House version, she eventually voted for final passage." So kudos to Time.com making the correction.

Separately, the kindest construction that one could make of Markey's claim that deficit reduction was the primary reason for her vote on health-care reform is that she is extremely naive and did not study the bill carefully. A study published by the Cato Institute (for which I am Associate Policy Analyst) dissects the finances of the new law. As "Bad Medicine: A Guide to the Real Costs and Consequences of the New Health Care Law" explains, during the first ten years in which the law is fully implemented, it will over "add $352 billion to the national debt over that period."

Certainly there are reasons why a Congressperson might consider the extra debt a worthwhile cost to pay for the perceived benefits of the bill. However, the Colorado media should ask Markey to back up her assertion that the bill, once fully implemented, would greatly reduce deficits.

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