As noted previously in this space, the formula of Fox News host Sean Hannity facing off over matters of finance and economics with Austan Goolsbee is among the wonders of cable news. Last night’s clash over the impact of Obamacare was no exception.
After Hannity said this — “We need the best in Washington. If Obamacare is discouraging young professionals from wanting to be lawmakers, will America have the elected officials they deserve?” — Goolsbee, a former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, responded, “I need a sound check, somebody get the sound check. Was [that] the argument that Sean Hannity just said, that we cannot cut the benefits or pay for federal workers — that we want to attract the best people we can to go work in the government? I’m totally confused. What just happened there?” Hannity smirked, in the manner of someone who acknowledges he’s been busted. The rest of the highly entertaining segment consists of Hannity and Goolsbee engaging in classic Obamacare statistic-trading, with Hannity citing alarming data to viewers and Goolsbee alleging that the numbers are cherry-picked or don’t tell the complete picture. Fox News coverage day in and day out is merciless on Obamacare, an initiative whose every failing gets a thorough vetting on the network’s airwaves. Goolsbee, to Hannity’s enduring credit, is a well-informed and combative proponent for the other side.
The network’s sensibility on Obamacare comes down through the hierarchy: Fox News chief Roger Ailes said the other night during an award-acceptance speech:
A few other hot news topics these days include the IRS. The federal government is about to hire 16,000 more IRS agents to enforce health care. Forty-seven new tax increases! No wonder they need guns! We already know the IRS is arrogant. They waste as much money as other government agencies. They enjoy pushing people around. And they can’t line dance! We don’t need 16,000 more people who can’t line dance. And we don’t need more people with guns enforcing our health care! Hi, granny, get your hands up, we’re tired of telling you this, but take your Metamucil.