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Tilting at Windmills

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March 5, 2009

THE REPUBLICAN PERSPECTIVE ON HEALTH CARE.... Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) is not in a position to speak for the entire congressional Republican caucus, but if his perspective is the norm inside the GOP, we probably shouldn't look for too much bipartisan cooperation in the debate over health care reform.

This clip shows Wamp, who clearly doesn't have the foggiest idea what he's talking about, condemning the Obama administration's health care proposal as "the next major step towards socialism." Wamp also argues that the president intends to "take away your deductions for charitable contributions" (which is patently false) and eliminate "your mortgage deduction on your home" (which is also patently false).

Wamp added, "Listen, the 45 million people that don't have health insurance -- about half of them choose not to have health insurance." He then argued, "Listen, health care a privilege.... For some people it's a right. But for everyone, frankly, it's not necessarily a right."

For no apparent reason, Wamp, while insisting there are tens of millions of Americans who choose to go without any coverage, also argued, "How many illegal immigrants are in this country today, getting our health care? Gobs of 'em."

It's pretty obvious that for a guy like Wamp, facts are annoyances to be avoided, but Ryan Powers explained, "Aside from the fact that healthcare for Americans cannot -- from an economic or a humanitarian stand point -- be viewed as a privilege, Wamp is misrepresenting exactly why so many Americans lack coverage. Indeed, as the Kaiser Family foundation documented, 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. Further, those workers -- and low-wage workers in particular -- who decline to participate in employer-sponsored plans often do so because they are unable to afford coverage, even with the contributions offered by their employers."

When pressed on how Republicans would address the health care crisis, Wamp said he supports "extending health care to the people that need it, not turning the whole health-care system over to the government." And how do we extend health care to the people that need it? Tax cuts, of course.

And House Republicans still wonder why no one takes them seriously on matters of public policy.

Steve Benen 3:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (42)

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The Republican perspective on X: "I got mine, bitch, fuck the rest of you."

Oh yeah, and here are some lies and gratuitous "socialism" accusations.

Posted by: Obama -- Not as Tough as the Steelers on March 5, 2009 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Well lookie here...looks like we got ourselves a late entry into S. Benen's Bracket!

Might Wamp be this year's George Mason or Gonzaga? Lord knows every tourney needs at least one team to wear the glass slipper!

Posted by: neilt on March 5, 2009 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

But seriously, anybody who can say with a straight face that "not dying" is a priviledge and not a right? Well there's a conversation stopper right there...not to mention makes Canadians like me feel ever smugger. C'mon America, don't you want to shut up us smug bastards Up North??


Posted by: neilt on March 5, 2009 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are so stupid. They continue to claim that tax cuts are the answer to everything. They think they have a magic bullet and believe everyone else is still under their spell. I know that tax cuts got us into this mess, so it only makes sense that more taxcuts can get us out. I hope they never learn. One more election cycle and we can completely ignore them for a long time.

Posted by: Patrick on March 5, 2009 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

This one time I was attacked by ninjas and I pulled out my tax cuts and beat them off.


Every brain dead Republican

Posted by: nisl on March 5, 2009 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Is this buffoon for real? Is he an actual elected Congressman and not a Larry the Cable Guy imitator who decided to wear a suit today?

Posted by: Matt on March 5, 2009 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with the Republican health care reliance on the 'market' for health care reform lies in the asymptotic demand for medical services. Stories abound of people selling homes, raiding retirement savings to pay for health care. Consumers will pay almost anything for good health or to combat an aliment. That makes perfect sense. Who wants to live a life with poor health? This dynamic creates a demand situation in which there really is no limit to the cost a health provider can charge. Yes, for something as mundane as a luxury yacht, one can say "Yes, that item is too expensive, and I'll not buy it." But that same dynamic cannot, and will not work for health care. One cannot reason that "This heart procedure is too expensive, so I guess I choose to die instead."

That is why pure market capitalism fails with regard to Health Care.

Posted by: JWK on March 5, 2009 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon America, don't you want to shut up us smug bastards Up North?? - neilt

Actually, I think a lot of us would appreciate it if you bragged aboot your healthcare system a bit more. :)

OT - Did anyone notice that Keith Olbermann seemed to want to get into the Zeitgeist/Benen debate about Bachman and King last night? I don't know why this Wamp story would make me think of that.

Posted by: Danp on March 5, 2009 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ahh, Republicans.

I had a discussion with one today. In the same breath, they argued that tax *increases* for the wealthy are a disincentive to work, while tax *cuts* for the poor are a disincentive to work.

He then clarified that tax cuts for the poor aren't actually tax cuts, they are "transfers of wealth".

They are lucky that we on the left aren't fascists.

Posted by: maurinsky on March 5, 2009 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

The interviewer really let him have it. "For what people is health care not a right? Let's list that." "As you know, the president disputes that [re: loss of deductions]." I guess if you call the media liberal long enough, they may just rise to the challenge.

Posted by: eadie on March 5, 2009 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

And, they haven't even dealt with the fact that even USians with health insurance aren't doing that well. I don't pay a dime to have insurance, but I can't afford the $500 deductible, I can't afford to pay $50 every time I need to see a doctor, and my lowest rx copay is $25. I'm lucky if I have $5 left over at the end of the week, not including any medical expenses.

I'm so privileged.

Posted by: Personal Failure on March 5, 2009 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Yet another one for the "Why It's So Hard To Be A Republican in 2009" list: Tax cuts for the wealthy contribute to economic health. Tax cuts for the poor and middle class are socialism and must be stopped.

Posted by: Keori on March 5, 2009 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

One more for the "Why it's so hard to be a Republican in 2009" list:

because the Cold War ended 20 years ago. That means that, when they accuse the Dems of introducing socialism, they can't conjure up the Russian bogey any more, but have to say "The Dems are going to make the US more like ... Europe." How scary is that?

Posted by: davidp on March 5, 2009 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously? The Republican solution to healthcare is "take two tax cuts and call me in the morning?"

Republicans have dropped all pretense of caring anymore and really could give a damn about anything other than returning to power -- to cause more damage. The GOP is accomplishing what decades of communism tried and failed to do: cause the collapse of the capitalist model. Adam Smith's invisible hand needs to smack the Republicans upside the head.

Posted by: petorado on March 5, 2009 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

With a name like Wamp, he otta be measuring his words a little bit more carefully! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 5, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Every time I go down to get a job, I swear, there they go again, trying to make me take insurance! I keep telling them to just keep their insurance and give me a tax cut!

Next thing you know, they'll be trying to get me to go see a doctor when I'm sick! Being sick is a right not a privilege!

Posted by: Half o'Merica on March 5, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

When you step in bull puckey does it go: Wamp!

If our health care system stays as stupid as it is,
we're never really going to get our economic problems fixed.

--R. Maddow

Posted by: koreyel on March 5, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

I said it elsewhere & will repeat it here: of course the right considers healthcare a privilege, just like voting, a good education, marriage, a clean environment, etc. Privileges are by definition restricted and are also essential when it comes to identifying and reinforcing dominant classes' interests. And conservatives are all about protecting the interests of dominant groups... we wonder at their strange-bedfellows alliances of undereducated religious nuts, upper-tier suburbanites, and various other seemingly unrelated groups, but we should always remember that every one of those groups is trying to grasp and/or preserve a specific place near the top of one or more cultural ladders.

If you're terrified that someone traditionally considered beneath you might be treated equally or enjoy some of the same advantages you do, you're probably a Republican voter.

Posted by: latts on March 5, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Very interesting comments from this Wamp character. And just what kind of health coverage might he have? Yea, I thought so....

Posted by: whichwitch on March 5, 2009 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

What an asshole.

Posted by: Breezeblock on March 5, 2009 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Wamp said he supports "extending health care to the people that need it, not turning the whole health-care system over to the government."

Notice Wamp's use of the term "health-care system".

Advocates of a government-run single-payer solution -- such as myself -- are not advocating "turning the whole health-care system over to the government." No one is suggesting that all hospitals should be run by the government, or that all doctors should work for the government.

Single-payer means a medical insurance system run by the government, under open, efficient, transparent, accountable public administration.

It isn't about who provides medical services. It's about who pays for medical services.

Republicans consistently, deliberately, dishonestly misrepresent single-payer, government-run medical insurance as government-run health care.

And unfortunately, the general use of the term "health care reform" -- or even worse, the inane phrase "health reform" -- only helps the Republicans to perpetuate this deception.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 5, 2009 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

This just goes to show you who is representing us in Congress. This guy Wamp has got to be the most ignorant person I have heard yet. It's a shame that he actually beat Rush in being stupid. Listening to him speak almost made be vomit. He needs to crawl back under that rock he came from. It's hard for me to even entertain his comments. STUPID, STUPID WAMP WAMP!!!

Posted by: Wanda Jones on March 5, 2009 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

"And House Republicans still wonder why no one takes them seriously on matters of public policy."

Um, about 10 months ago these guys were still the only people "taken seriously." It's been a rapid fall -- even an "emperor-has-no-clothes" moment -- but let's not flush down the memory hole just yet how powerful and influential were the dumbest of the dumb.

And for what it's worth, there are still tens of millions of Americans who think this guy is making a whole ton of sense. Let's not let our guard down and slip into complacency...Right-wing kooks aren't going anywhere, even if they are in the minority and their leadership is in a shambles.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on March 5, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans lie. In the time it takes you to catch them in a lie, they lie three more times. In the time it takes you to fact check those 3 lies, they've repeated all four lies so many times it's become conventional wisdom. They're saying it on talk radio and on the news, so it must be at least KINDA true, right? And when your head is completely turned around so you don't know if the people you want to trust can be trusted, and you're considered anti-American by the people who blindly believe the lie without doing ANY fact-checking, that's when you give up, and out of fear of making the wrong decision, you opt to not vote, no longer pay attention and hope you won't get screwed TOO much.

And that's when and how Republicans win. They know their policies will eff over far more people, but it makes them and their kind money. By obscuring the truth and confusing most other voters to the point where they give up on the process. Because their base will ALWAYS turn out to vote their "values," and that means Republicans can ALWAYS win, if they convince enough of "the others" to not vote.

Posted by: slappy magoo on March 5, 2009 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Dubya's solution to every problem was to go kill someone. Under normal circumstances I consider this to be a bit misguided, but after watching the video of Wamp going on and on, I may have to revise my position on the matter. Mdme. La Farge, where are you when we need you?

Posted by: Texas Aggie on March 5, 2009 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with secularanimist - I am frustrated by the almost universal use of the phrase "health care" as a synonim for "medical insurance."

Posted by: g on March 5, 2009 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how many illegal immigrants are in a gob?

Posted by: Jim G on March 5, 2009 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Bear in mind that Wamp is gearing up to run for Governor of Tennessee next year, and may well be trying to make sure that none of his primary competitors can get to his right. But if this guy wins--well, I know it's the last thing we can expect from *you* gys, but--pray for us.

Posted by: David in Nashville on March 5, 2009 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

This makes sense once you realize that middle TN is the home of most of the private healthcare companies in the country. HCA, Community Health Systems, Healthways, etc. are all located in the middle Tennessee area. Wamp is keeping his constituents happy - at least the ones with big money donations.

Posted by: Jane on March 5, 2009 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Where does he get the baloney that Obama is going to mess with Medicare bennies, mortgage deductions, etc?

Sounds completely made up. The "half don't want it" thing is clearly made up. Then he acknowledges that the other half are screwed and go to the emergency room, which he somehow blames on Mexicans.

What a turd.

Posted by: bebimbob on March 5, 2009 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, Representative, whatever you say.

Now, give us back the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Posted by: LittlePig on March 5, 2009 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Congress, Senate all have government sponsored, tax-payer healthcare, right?

I wonder what they pay in health costs each year? What does the taxpayer pay for their health costs every year? I would like to know if they weren't on "our" healthcare plan, how much would it cost to cover their family wihtout this plan? Just a "do the math" question that we should all be wondering.

Posted by: Elsie on March 5, 2009 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

The first person to be convinced of the benefits of universal health care is our president.

Posted by: impartial on March 5, 2009 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Well, yes, Mr Congressperson Wamp sir, I do choose to not have health insurance. I admit it. Guilty as charged. I prefer to eat, and tend to use money the equal of a month's insurance premium to instead occasionally purchase food. Occasionally, like once a month or so. Health insurance in an "approve or deny" state is that cost-prohibitive. If you have a 'pre-existing condition', which can now be anything from acne to heartburn, one either pays around $300 a month or goes without medical insurance. And then you have to pay the doctors what the insurance decided to not pay or else face collection agencies and finding new 'providers'. The 'health product' industry has to die.

Posted by: Ev on March 5, 2009 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Listen, health care a privilege.... For some people it's a right. But for everyone, frankly, it's not necessarily a right." -- sWamp

Some animals are more equal than others. Is it so hard to understand?

As for the Repress-entative himself, I'd take his ramblings more seriously, if he were to renounce his own health insurance, which is based not on mere socialist principles, but on the more advanced, communist, system: From each according to his ability (that is, from me, according to my ability to pay the taxes) to each according to his needs (that is, to Repress-entative sWamp's medical needs)

Posted by: exlibra on March 5, 2009 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Wamp may be crazy, but he's not a fool.

The salient fact in American politics is that you can win elections forever on the votes from people who would volunteer to live with their family in a cardboard box under a railroad bridge, and toast sparrows on an old curtain rod over an open fire -- or do without access to health care -- so long as you guarantee them that the people in the next box over -- black, gay, foreign, liberal, different -- don't even get the sparrow -- and even less access to health care.

Wamp can count. Building your career on the premise that people are shits is a smart move because, basically, people are shits.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on March 5, 2009 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

I do sometimes wonder if having a basic health plan like Oregon to sweep up anyone who isn't insured wouldn't do the job.

Some private health care is just ghastly and some would opt out.

Decent health insurance companies would have to provide a service of value lest ITS subscribers decide to go with "the Socialist Special".

Eventually, some companies would offer supplemental health insurance employers could offer. These plans would cover cosmetic procedures, unproven therapies that customers want anyway, and low value treatments that have poor outcomes but on rare occasions succeed.

This could provide the incentive for development of lucrative technologies that conservatives worry would wane if we went full bore socialized medicine. Not that I'm holding my breath that anything other than status quo is okay.

I think it would be a easier battle to win. It's just plain heartless to insist that uninsured people risk their lives. The dominoes would fall from there. At the very least, we'd solve the uninsured problem. Thta's a pretty good legacy and perhaps a good 32 million grateful citizens who might thank Obama at the polls.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 5, 2009 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

What is the sound of a Republican's brain hitting the floor after being ejected from its head? You guessed, WAMP.

Posted by: fry1laurie on March 5, 2009 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

At my first job I was offered Traveler's health insurance. I think it was called that because the nearest physician was a two hour drive away. You can guess what that insurance premium did to a near minimum wage paycheck. Yep...I chose not to give up half my paycheck for a chance to beg for a day off so I can spend it driving to see a doctor. I so love to sit in the ER for 4 hours waiting to be seen for an ear infection that I've ignored for too long.
Wamp should have his mouth sewn shut by a superior surgeon of his choice paid for with his nice government provided health plan.

Posted by: Dolphink on March 6, 2009 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Finally, the time has arrived to fix Americas Healthcare crisis, and Americas healthcare knightmare. Hundreds of thousands of you are killed needlessly every year by your healthcare delivery system in a rush to profit. And because of a rush to profit Hundreds of thousands more of you are needlessly dying from treatable illness that people in other developed and civilized countries don't DIE! from. Rich, middle class, and poor alike. Insured, and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies.

Additionally, thousands more of you are driven into financial ruin, and bankruptcy just because you, or one of your loved ones got sick or injured. And all of this is happening at a time when America spends twice as much of it's GDP (Gross Domestic Productivity) on health care than any other country in the developed world. Individual Americans spend about ten times as much on health care as any other people in the developed world. This is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. AND IT MUST END!

But before we can truly fix this healthcare crisis and disgrace, everyone needs to clearly understand what the problem is. And everyone needs to clearly understand the real enormity of the problem. The problem is that HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY IN AMERICA IS SEVERELY CORRUPTED AND COMPROMISED BY GREED! AND THE PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MOTIVE. And it is corrupted, and compromised IN EVERY ASPECT, AND EVERY PLACE OF HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY. Unfortunately for all Americans, compromised healthcare ALWAYS results in needless suffering, injury, disability, and or death. Which is exactly what is happening now in America in shocking numbers.

Health care is NOT! a private for profit business. Healthcare is an essential public service. Like police, and fire. And healthcare is also a human right! PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTHCARE IS AN OXYMORON, AND AN IMMORAL AND UNETHICAL PERVERSION OF HEALTHCARE AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

So how do we fix this healthcare disgrace? I believe the fix for Americas healthcare disaster is essentially the same thing that every other developed country in the World has essentially done. "NOT FOR PROFIT, TAX PAYER SUPPORTED, SINGLE PAYER, AUTOMATIC, FREE UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE FOR ALL. Essentially HR676 (enhanced, and expanded medicare for all). Just like every other CIVILIZED! country in the developed World has. There is no other way to truly fix and reform our current disastrous healthcare delivery system.

All Universal health care systems work best when everyone participates. But I know that the healthcare lobby, and some politicians will try and undermine "Not For Profit, Tax payer supported, Single payer, Automatic, Free Universal Healthcare for all" by falsely claiming that it will limit your choice, and require you to participate.

So, I propose that everyone be included in the national plan unless they choose to opt out. If you opt out and need medical care the national plan will insure your provider that they will be reimbursed under the rules for members in the national plan. But those who opted out, and their insurer will be responsible for the FULL! cost to the national plan for providing your care if you or your private insurer fails to reimburse the provider or the national plan in a timely manor to at least the standards of the national plan.

Including reporting you to credit agencies, withholding of taxes, leans, and garnishment of wages for unpaid medical bills. Just like you have now under private for profit healthcare, and private for profit health insurance.

Further, people who opted out will be required to provide proof of financial responsibility for future illness or be required to participate in the national plan. And everyone with children will be required to participate in the national plan. Or provide proof of insurance coverage on each child to the standards of the national plan. It will be against the law to report anyone in the national plan to a credit agency for unpaid medical bills.

Frankly, only a dope would want to opt out of the national plan and opt to keep our current disastrous private for profit medical, and insurance plans. But they will be free to choose. The most important thing is that the vast majority of Americans that want the protection, benefits, and higher quality of a universal national plan have that choice.

You see, one of the most important aspects of a universal healthcare system is easy access, and patient protection. This is accomplished by having a single payer without a conflict of interest in patient care. And by having a payer who has the power to enforce minimum standards of excellence in healthcare delivery for everyone in the plan. This is much of what Medicare does now for senors. "Aeger Primo" (The patient first). Unfortunately in our healthcare system the patient comes last. We are just a peace of meat to them. Cash cows to be slaughtered for profit.

So this is IT! my fellow Americans, My fellow human beings, My fellow World Citizens. And my fellow Cyber Warriors. :-) The time has come. D day. H hour. HEALTHCARE REFORM THIS YEAR! Let no one stand in our way. Contact your representative and tell them you want "Not For Profit, Tax Payer Supported, Single Payer, Automatic, Free Universal healthcare for all. And tell them you want that choice now. Tell them you want President Obama's budget passed as is, without delay. President Obama's budget is brilliant. And exactly what is needed now.

President Obama, and his allies will need all the support you can give them. The healthcare lobby will try to take out his people if they can, like they did with Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer. And they will try to neutralize President Obama's popularity, and political power. Or they will try to take him down someway. Don't stand for it. If they attack him. Go after them ten times harder and remove them from office. We had an election. And you the people chose President Obama's leadership, and change agenda. Let no one in government disrespect the will of the American people and remain in office.

To President Obama, his Cabinet, the Congress of the United States, and the Supreme Court. I have noticed for some time a disturbing tendency for key members of your bodies to come down with illness, or medical problems at critical legislative times. This may just be coincidence. But I can tell you that there are a million subtle ways to medically injure someone just by doing nothing when something needs to be done. Or by doing things to someone when nothing needs to be done except to give them reassurance. I know for a fact that there are those that would have no qualms about hurting any of you to preserve our current disgraceful medical status quo.

So, I recommend as a matter of national security that you enlist the help of a friendly power to regularly review, and oversee the medical care you receive from your local regular healthcare providers. Briton, France and many other countries have excellent medical providers. As well as Canada. Briton, and Canada may be less of a language barrier for Americans.

Let's get this healthcare reform done now my fellow Americans. This year. Take no prisoners.

God Bless All Of You

Jack Smith Working Class :-)


Posted by: jacksmith on March 6, 2009 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, so if we cut off the gobs of health care for illegals... then is he for health care for American citizens?

Posted by: Clem on March 6, 2009 at 3:36 AM | PERMALINK

Funnier still, one of his planks at Zach Wamp for Governor is improving the health of Tennesseans. Yeah, how you gonna do that Zach?

We're (Tennesseans) are doomed if this moron is elected.

Posted by: LP on March 6, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK



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