Conventional wisdom has it that print journalism (and its editorial columns) are dead. Tell it to Bob Herbert. His column lambasting the excise tax went viral today on both the left and right ends of the Internet spectrum, despite having originating in what some have labeled "dead-tree media." Herbert's column is called "A Less Than Honest Policy ," and the title pretty much sums up the tone of the piece. Writes Herbert: "(I)t’s a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care ... which is exactly what the tax is designed to do."
"The tax on health benefits is being sold to the public dishonestly as something that will affect only the rich, and it makes a mockery of President Obama’s repeated pledge that if you like the health coverage you have now, you can keep it," says Herbert, adding: "Those who believe this is a good idea should at least have the courage to be straight about it with the American people."
It's fairly rare that a print editorial goes viral online, unless it's written by Krugman or Dowd or Rich. So the question of the day is: What about Bob? Turns out that his piece is doing extremely well indeed. Glenn Greenwald of Salon featured it prominently today ("Distortions in the Health Care Debate "). Greenwald's frame is that the tax is being sold to us by the same people who sold us the war in Iraq (and
with the same strategies).
Atrios ("Eschaton") linked to it with the headline "The Stupidest Part ," and this was the entirety of his post: "As Herbert says, the 'cadillac' health insurance tax plan is both the worst part of the plan and the biggest fantasy. None of the benefit reductions are going to be converted to wages."
DemFromCT on Daily Kos (whose blogging on health is well-respected), mentions Herbert in this piece,  referring to the tax as "the unreasonable part" of the reform proposal. Progressive blogger Melissa McEwen cited Herbert here .
On the right side of the political spectrum, Pajamas Media blogger Vodkapundit wins the Headline of the Day award with "Tax This !" And right-winger Ann Althouse links to the Herbert piece using a sentence of it as her title: "The tax ... is being sold dishonestly as something that will affect only the rich. "
Herbert's piece has clearly struck a nerve. Now the question is: Will the White House and negotiators for the House/Senate conference realize that there is a nerve out there to be struck, and will they take that into consideration when deciding whether to keep the tax? After all, it's rare to get this kind of unanimity from both sides of the aisle. Maybe Vodkapundit will title his next piece "I got yer 'bipartisanship' right here."