Anatomy of a liberal hit job

Buckley Carlson Political Strategist
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For liberals, intentions are far more important than facts. That’s why confronting liberals with facts and data is such a Sisyphean task.

Take the George Soros-funded Center for Public Integrity (CPI) and its attack on the U.S. dental industry. The attack began in June of this year with “Dollars and Dentists,” a PBS documentary funded in part by CPI. A thinly veiled docu-lobby on behalf of socialized dentistry, “Dollars and Dentists” takes aim at Kool Smiles, the country’s largest Medicaid dental provider, as well as other dental service organizations (DSOs). The documentary claims that DSOs overcharge patients and have a tendency to recommend risky and expensive procedures in instances where they aren’t warranted. Think root canals and crown construction to treat cavities. On 9-year-olds.

Like most liberal offensives, the film was designed to elicit emotion, if not inquiry or skepticism. And it’s pretty devastating stuff.

Problem is, the claims are false.

Kool Smiles hired famed Reagan economist Arthur Laffer, the father of supply-side economics, to conduct an exhaustive study about the dental industry (while Kool Smiles funded the study, the company wasn’t given any input over how Laffer conducted it). What Laffer discovered shouldn’t come as a surprise: “Dollars and Dentists” is a classic liberal hit job — short on facts and oblivious to the data.

Laffer looked at the nearly 26 million Medicaid-funded dental procedures performed in Texas in fiscal year 2011. He found that “DSOs are not only providing much-needed care, but they are providing that care expeditiously and relatively inexpensively when compared to non-DSO affiliated dentists.” As it turns out, Kool Smiles provides its services at roughly half the annual cost of the average non-DSO and performs about two-thirds as many procedures per patient as its non-DSO competitors. So much for the claim that Kool Smiles overcharges patients and gives them unnecessary treatments.

If CPI is embarrassed by these revelations, its representatives sure haven’t said so. Neither have they apologized for slandering Kool Smiles and the entire dental industry. In fact, when asked by Arthur Laffer to produce the data that presumably undergird its report — and PBS’s “Dollars and Dentists” — CPI, which bills itself as “one of the country’s oldest and largest non-partisan, non-profit investigative news organizations,” flatly refused.

PBS has been similarly unmoved, and to date has neither issued a retraction nor aired a follow-up news report presenting the actual facts.

That’s unfortunate, but not surprising.

Buckley Carlson, a Washington-based writer and political strategist, can be reached at Buckley@buckmedia.org.