Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.):
“Folks, that’s the bottom line: It’s government-paid health care,” . “It’s a bad bill for a bad time, and it’s coming under the false pretenses of trying to do something for children.”
Statements like that are why the Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006, and why Hastert is no longer House speaker.
He’s talking, of course, about the House passage of a bill "vastly expanding a federal health insurance program for the children of the working poor".
Hastert’s statement is stupid because there are no "false pretenses" at all. The law will "insure 5 million more children who otherwise would have no access to health care". It has the approval of Republican and Democratic governors, the American Medical Association, AARP, the March of Dimes, the Catholic Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and even cyclist Lance Armstrong. As one Senator put it (a Republican, mind you): "It’s difficult for me to understand how anyone wouldn’t want to do this."
And should the bill pass the Senate, as it is expected to do, Bush has vowed to veto it. That’s right — he’s going to veto a bill that will help insure 5 million poor American children.
And why? Because of the cost? Nope. That will come from a federal tax on cigarettes.
Bush will veto it for ideological reasons — the same silly ones as Hastert — i.e., it is "socialized medicine".
This goes to the heart of my objections with conservative policies. I mean, I can understand that some people don’t believe government should be the answer for everything. And to some extent, I agree. But should people who don’t believe in government be voted in to actually run the government? Republicans are always fond of saying how "government is bad" and then, when in power, they do everything to prove that is true.
Government programs are necessary, vital, and successful. Look at Medicare. Look at FEMA (under Clinton; not so much under Bush). Look at the moon landings, the federal highway system, the postal service, etc. — properly managed, government programs can be good things. Those who want to leave everything to the "free market" are seeking to turn the clock back to the pre-20th century days where we had little government regulation and where it stood out of the way of business. We tried that in the late 1800’s and we ended up with the Gilded Age, steel monopolies, children working in factories, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, etc.
This bill makes absolute sense and is a moral good. It’s a perfect example of what government should be, and what government (in the right hands) can do — establish laws for the greater common good.
Seriously — giving medical attention to this country’s poorest children who have NO health care protection at all? How can you be a human being and be opposed to that?
RELATED: Ezra Klein looks at the healthcare "plan" offered up by Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday:
Just about all you need to know about Giuliani’s thoughtfulness on the issue can be summed up by the following: In the speech introducing and detailing his new health care proposal, Giuliani refers to the "Democrats" six times. "Single-payer" is said eight times. "Socialized medicine," or some variant thereof, makes nine appearances. "Uninsured" is never uttered — not once.
Ezra also provides a technical explanation of why Rudy’s plan is meaningless (tax deductions don’t help the poor, who don’t pay taxes in the first place, and the incentives are too small to make much difference to middle class taxpayers who do pay taxes).
The remarkable thing about Giuliani’s plan isn’t in the details anyway. It’s that it doesn’t even make a serious pretense of being an actual solution to any of our current healthcare problems. Even taken on its own terms, it woudn’t expand coverage, it wouldn’t help the poor, it wouldn’t contain costs, and it wouldn’t improve care. It literally wouldn’t do anything except provide a tax break for the wealthy, the only people who would benefit from an increased tax deduction.
Funny how that works.