Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 7, 2009

WHAT A CARD.... The good news is former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card has stopped publicly complaining about President Obama's clothing. The bad news is Card has started complaining about health care policy.

During the White House's health care summit yesterday, President Obama said that "there are those who say we should defer health care reform once again" because they claim "that at a time of economic crisis, we simply can't afford to fix our health care system as well." "If we want to create jobs and rebuild our economy and get our federal budget under control, then we have to address the crushing costs of health care this year in this administration," Obama said of such criticisms.

But while Obama was making the case that health care reform is both "a moral imperative" and "a fiscal imperative," former Bush chief of staff Andrew Card was arguing on Fox News that reform needs to wait. "We have got a huge crisis in our economy, and I think we have got to solve that problem first," said Card.

Asked by Neil Cavuto if the health care summit was "a waste of time," Card responded that instead of working on health care, Obama should "establish a needs commission and fund that which the economy needs, not what everybody wants."

I see. On Thursday, Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) insisted that health care is just a "privilege," and on Friday, Andy Card explained that health care coverage is a "want," not a "need."

Putting aside the inter-connectivity of health care and economic growth, these Republican arguments should make the debate over reform even easier. "Republicans think your family doesn't 'need' health care coverage" has a nice sound-bite quality.

Steve Benen 11:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Speaking of sound bites, I kind of like: "Who would you rather have making decisions about your healthcare - someone who has a profit motive for denying coverage and treatment, or someone who doesn't?"

It's the one point that's so obvious that it makes me crazy when it's not hammered home in every single discussion on health care: some activities are simply inconsistent with a for-profit model. You don't have to be a genius to spot the problem in a scenario where a patient needs a $1 million liver transplant in order to survive. The health "insurer" is going to have a million reasons to look for ways to deny coverage for the procedure. Any business model where the business can profit from the death of the customer, and gets to at the same time decide whether the customer will live or die, is a bad model.

Posted by: Jennifer on March 7, 2009 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Card's opinions on how to fix the hollowed out country he and his boss has left us is as worthy of respect as hog excrement, and shuttin' up Card would be a great add-on to that iowa budget item...

Posted by: neill on March 7, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

The truth is we want the Andy Cards and the Rep Wamps to keep talking. The American people are going to draw very clear lines. One party wants people to go without health coverage and be one accident or illness away from bankruptcy and one wants everyone to have health coverage not only to protect the citizens but also to help businesses bottom line. Its the fringe in this country who believe what Wamp and Card believe especially with so many people possibly for the first time getting separated from their health insurance because they lost their job and can't find another one. The more they talk the more nails they put in their coffin. I am almost of a mind to encourage them to keep going on TV and in opeds trying to make their points. Everything they are doing right now is helping more than any attack ad any Democrat could ever dream up.

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla on March 7, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

For Republicans profit is more important than anything else. They will do anything to maintain the profit of insurance and pharmaceutical companies and their CEOs and shareholders. That is all they care about.

Posted by: Renee on March 7, 2009 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps, Zach "The Nose" Wamp considers checking into drug rehab more of a right than a privilege. So, having a "nose" problem is more of an "It's not your fault", than a medical "You let yourself become obese or smoked" one.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 7, 2009 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Republicans think your family doesn't 'need' health care coverage" has a nice sound-bite quality.

So does 'Your tax dollars are going to go to some colored person, so that they get the best of government care for something careful people don't get, while your private insurance gets more expensive, buys less and denies more, and makes your boss lay people off."

This must be played very carefully. There are enough people to screw this opportunity up who would volunteer for a crappy health care system, if you would only guarantee them that the Others get no care at all.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on March 7, 2009 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

If there is such a crisis in our economy, why is Card's party unwilling to do anything about it?

Posted by: JoeW on March 7, 2009 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

The difference between Obama, Bush and the Repubs: Obama's straw men are real.

Card probably thinks he's only temporarily out of power; he certainly doesn't realize why.

Posted by: ericfree on March 7, 2009 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Would that they had denied Barbara Bush her elective surgery on her heart rather than spend money on such an old person, who is probably going to die soon, anyway. The Republicans' health plan could be called "The Babs Memorial Health Denial System". Let the unhealthy die to make room for those of us who are prudent and live our lives responsibly. By the Way, is obesity grounds for denying coverage for weight-related illnesses?

st john

Posted by: st john on March 7, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

If there is such a crisis in our economy, why is Card's party unwilling to do anything about it?

They'd be willing to give more tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations.

Posted by: qwerty on March 7, 2009 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

What's disgraceful is this locker room mentality that America has today because of President Obama. If these people would just put on a suit and tie, they'd have health coverage in no time.

You can do a lot with a suit on, these people need to get that. You can start wars! You can torture people! You can spy on your neighbors! It's time to bring back these traditional American pass times that are what made us great!

Posted by: Andy Card on March 7, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

IMO it's good news when clueless Bush toadies like Card oppose Obama's policies. It's a sure sign he's doing the right thing

Posted by: AndyS on March 7, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

What I find so perplexing about the Rs is that they are incredibly shortsighted (on everything, not just health care). It's clear that we waste a huge amount of money on health care in this country. When care for all is the emergency room, when illnesses that could be prevented or caught early are not because people don't have access to a doctor. How much better to provide care for all, wellness care, vaccinations, etc. to improve quality of life helps the country and the economy (less lost worker hours, less student absence, etc).

And perhaps we need to include physical fitness as a part of this plan. Rush Limbaugh could certainly use some time away from his golden microphone. Maybe he could spend some time walking and talking to people who are suffering in this country and get a new outlook and a slimmer physique. Some of the Rs could use this plan, too.

I'm dreaming, I know.

Posted by: Hannah on March 7, 2009 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

This "interconnectivity" dog is not going to hunt. If you have to fix everything that is wrong with the American political economy right this minute, or none of the parts will work, then that's an economic plan that no one will buy.

OTOH, there's no positive reason why we shouldn't have a far greater government involvement in the health care system. Countries that do make greater guarantees have better health care results at the median (which is the only measure that matters; I don't really give a shit if some rich person has to wait longer for elective surgery he can easily afford, than he has to now).

But health care reform needs to be (and can be) sold on its own merits, not as part of some fragile economic structure that only works if all the pieces are assembled in a specific way.

Posted by: kth on March 7, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Did I just miss the part of Card's resume where he ran any kind of actual productive business and had to manage the health care costs of his employees? Or is a man who's basically spent an entire lifetime lobbying and working for government pretending to know about what the economy needs?

Why should the opinions of this man matter? Who gives a hoot what Andy Card thinks about this issue? Oh, Neil Cavuto. Case closed.

God forbid someone should point out to Card that for those of us who haven't been recently working full-time on cranking the Bush White House Bubble Generator, the idea that the economy needs health care reform is already a proven fact.

Jeez, keep up, Andy, willya?

Posted by: biggerbox on March 7, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Card is just reminding us of the old adage:

"If you have your health, you have everything except the really important stuff."

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 7, 2009 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

kth, i see no reason that health-care-insurance reform shouldn't be sold as a 3fer: a.) we can get equally good median results as we get today at a lower cost, freeing up resources for other uses in the economy; b.) no american ever again has to worry about going bankrupt due to a medical emergency; c.) american business becomes more competitive globally.

Posted by: howard on March 7, 2009 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

health care isn't an economic issue? someone ought to tell the folks at gm that. actually someone should tell that to anyone who runs a business and tries to provide health insurance for their workers.

andy card is right in a way. you really want health care when you or a family member is sick. i wonder if card and wamp consider themselves christians (i suspect they do), and how their position might jive with the story of the good samaritan, the sermon on the mount, the golden rule, and a few other tenets of the faith?

Posted by: mudwall jackson on March 7, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder what these Republicans think "...promote the general welfare..." means.

Posted by: Regis on March 7, 2009 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

It was a typo(did they have typewriters in 1787?) or mis-print: it should have been: promote the general's or generals' welfare. You know, there was an illiteracy problem back in those days. It also refers to the Blessings of liberty: who invokes Blessings? Is Liberty the same as God?

Posted by: st john on March 7, 2009 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

It's obvious that you people have no idea that to have health care without wearing a suit and tie is the kind of thing that makes for third world, communist, socialist societies, the type which we would not want any part of.

And to biggerbox, I only work part time on the Bush White House Bubble Generator, Ari Fleischer is taking care of it this weekend.

Posted by: Andy Card on March 7, 2009 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK



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