Obama is spending the day convening a health care summit with about 150 elected officials and representatives of groups that have much at stake in the outcome, so that's the political topic du jour.
Republicans have weighed in, and the nuttiest (so far) is Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), who went on MSNBC to explain his opposition to Obama’s stated goal of comprehensive health care reform. In dissing the reform, Wamp told MSNBC that health care is a "privilege", not necessarily a right:
WAMP: Listen, health care a privilege. […]
MSNBC: Well, it’s a privilege? Health care? I mean if you have cancer right now, do you see it as a privilege to get treatment?
WAMP: I was just about to say, for some people it’s a right. But for everyone, frankly, it’s not necessarily a right.
Wamp went on to explain why health care isn't necessarily a right for everyone: "Half of the people in this country who are uninsured choose to be uninsured".
Well, just because people choose not to have health insurance doesn't mean that health care isn't a right. By analogy, a lot of people still believe they have the right to free speech, even if they choose not to speak.
But the bigger issue here is that Wamp is just simply wrong. 64 percent of American workers who are uninsured are not actually offered an employer-sponsored health care plan. In all, just 20 percent of uninsured workers who are offered employer-sponsored coverage decline to participate.
So, once again, Republicans simply don't "get" the problem, so they would be hard-pressed to come up with a solution. Once again, they have nothing in their bag of tricks other than to decry "socialism" and "resdistribution of wealth" and lamenting the fact that government is taking on a bigger role in ensuring health care to its citizens.
And once again, they are out of lockstep with the majority of Americans:
Seventy-two percent of those questioned in recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey say they favor increasing the federal government's influence over the country's health care system in an attempt to lower costs and provide health care coverage to more Americans, with 27 percent opposing such a move. Other recent polls show six in 10 think the government should provide health insurance or take responsibility for providing health care to all Americans.
The poll also indicates that health care is tied as the third most important issue for President Obama and Congress to deal with over the next year. Forty-eight percent said dealing with health care was extremely important, tied with education and trailing only the economy and terrorism as the most important issues.