Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 23, 2009

CANTOR'S SUPPORT FOR HEALTH CARE OPTIONS.... At a forum this week, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) heard from a constituent about a serious health care dilemma. Her question was sad but common, and Cantor's response was illustrative.

The constituent noted that she has a close relative in her early 40s. She had a lucrative career and great insurance, right up until she recently lost her job. A couple of weeks ago, she was diagnosed with stomach tumors and needs an operation soon, but she's no longer covered.

Cantot encouraged her to look to "existing government programs," or perhaps "charitable organizations." He added, "No one in this country, given who we are, should be sitting without an option to be addressed."

That's worded rather awkwardly, but it's a sentiment I can agree with. Americans who need care should have "options." There should be "government programs" to provide coverage to those who don't have it.

The problem, which Cantor fails to appreciate, is that he and his colleagues are opposed both to giving Americans "options" and creating "government programs." If he meant what he said, Cantor wouldn't be leading the charge against health care reform.

Indeed, the follow-up question is obvious: what is Eric Cantor doing to help provide "options" and strengthen "government programs" for those Americans who need help?

As for relying on charities and the kindness of strangers to save those facing life-threatening illnesses, what Cantor may not realize is that these charities, through no fault of their own, necessarily have to ration care and force patients to endure long wait times -- there are fewer resources than patients.

In other words, Cantor's warnings about the perils of a reformed system are already a reality.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

What I think Cantor's saying is that he believes there are enough options already.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on September 23, 2009 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

I bet he doesn't even begin to understand the essential disconnect between his official position and "no one in this country, given who we are, should be sitting without an option to be addressed."

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 23, 2009 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

This seems to be the best way to put pressure on Republicans. TV anchors typically don't ask Republicans to clarify their opposition to "government health care" or "rationing" because that would be biased of them. What we need is for more people with specific, serious health insurance problems to challenge their Congressman/woman in person. It's easy to tell Joe Scarborough you're against health reform. It's a lot tougher to say the same to actual constituents. When you do, you look like a fool, just like our friend Eric Cantor.

Posted by: SSS on September 23, 2009 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

This is utterly beside the point.
The point is to oppose the scary black man. Period. They will literally say or do anything. Inconsistency? Who cares. Hypocrisy? So what? Lying? All in the name of the greater good. Murder?.....

Posted by: jprichva on September 23, 2009 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

You know, in larger scheme of things this should get alot more attention and media coverage than "You lie!" This gooes to the fundamental failure of the Republican Party and conservative movement when it comes to healthcare (and so many issues).

It's hard to tell whether Cantor is confused, heartless, dishonest or stupid, probably any or all. This is just the sort of thing that needs to be held up to the American people.

Posted by: Saint Zak on September 23, 2009 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

All elected officials who oppose "government health care" should be taken off government health care.

Let them apply for their own private insurance, and be turned down for pre-existing conditions... or find out after they fall ill that they're not covered.

They may pay exorbitant rates for poor coverage, but it's a small price to save America from socialism.

Posted by: Chris S. on September 23, 2009 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

What part of Cantor's message do you not understand?

It is consistent with our republican values and positions. Would it be easier to understand if rephrased as "I've got mine, fuck you!"

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on September 23, 2009 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Cantor encouraged her to look to "existing government programs," or perhaps "charitable organizations."

So, the best options for a person with stomach tumors and no insurance is to go to the public health clinic or ask for a handout. This is the best "the greatest nation on earth" can do?

Posted by: chrenson on September 23, 2009 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Saint Zak: This is just the sort of thing that needs to be held up to the American people.


Indeed. But it won't be. There are many, many instances of Republicans saying stupid things, on camera, that would normally be plastered everywhere and on every TV program had a Democrat done it.

Much like Cantor's inhuman response to a constituent yesterday, nothing the Republicans say that spotlights their steadfast opposition to health care changes that would help the average American will make the rounds on TV and in established news.

Posted by: terraformer on September 23, 2009 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

In other words, Cantor's warnings about the perils of a reformed system are already a reality.

Don't forget the rest of the message -- because not everyone will make the connection and a lot of the rhetoric is about what won't change: reform will fix these problems.

Posted by: Peter on September 23, 2009 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Reflect for a moment on the situation this constituent brought up - an educated, productive working person - recently laid off due to the economy - is diagnosed with a serious, treatable illness - but has no coverage to pay for treatment.
In any other country, this person would not be spending valuable time and energy trying to find a charity to pay for her treatment, negociating payments with providers, or hassling with creditors to forestall bankruptcy due to lack of ability to pay.
In any other country, this person would already be receiving treatment and would be getting back into the job market. We're making our workforce increasingly uncompetitive by making all sorts of workers unavailable to work due to trying to get healthcare services.

Posted by: CParis on September 23, 2009 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Republican Point of View nails it, as usual. Anyone without health coverage is automatically a loser (and probably black as well) and it's unAmerican to help them.

Posted by: davidp on September 23, 2009 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

It seems sadistic to cut government programs and then tell sick people to try to find a government program.

Posted by: cathy on September 23, 2009 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

[W]hat Cantor may not realize is that these charities, through no fault of their own, necessarily have to ration care and force patients to endure long wait times.
====================================

Really? Please explain how any thinking person involved in the issue would not long since have realized this.

It is impossible that Cantor does not know perfectly well that as a matter of policy we deny health care to poor folk, and that tens of thousands who would otherwise live are expected to die each year in this country because of it.

The simplest and most reasonable explanation that fits the facts is not that Cantor is confused, or hasn't thought this through, or is lacking some essential piece of information that would allow him to realize this. It is that he and his colleagues like it this way.

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on September 23, 2009 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

There you go
Cantor was born on June 6, 1963, into an affluent family in the West End of Richmond, a neighborhood with two Jewish country clubs and two delis. He grew up in a traditional, kosher—and solidly Republican—home.

His parents sent him to the Collegiate School, an elite private school in Richmond

He never in his life had to worry about the consequences of being without health care.That was something that happened to "poor" people. It has clouded his judgement to this day.

Posted by: John R on September 23, 2009 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Let me rhetorically ask Cantor - what government options exist for a 40 year old woman who needs tens of thousand of dollars' worth of immediate, aggressive oncological care and has no insurance? She's now unemployed, but probably has assets like a home, a car; her tax returns show her as well above the poverty line even though she has no income now.

What are her government options? Sell her home and all her assets so that she qualifies for Medicaid after whatever threshold time period is required to prove that she's needy?

What charities are available, if government options are not, to pay for cancer treatment for uninsured citizens? I don't think you get cancer treatment at the emergency room. Can she hold a bake sale?

There ARE no viable options.

Posted by: g on September 23, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

g@10.11a - why don't we expand her "options" by having a sort of "Queen for a Day" type of reality show, where the woman you're talking about and others in similar predicaments go head-to-head with their stories. Then, the one with the most pathetic tale wins health care!

John R@9.52p - please don't blame Cantor's views on his money and upbringing. There are many people I know, brought up in the same circumstances who are generous, giving, DEMOCRATS, with full knowledge and appreciation of the problems of those less fortunate and are willing to help fix them. Me, my family and relatives, and most of my friends.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on September 23, 2009 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Cantor is hoping for the creation of some new reality TV programming: the health make-over show. Now, instead of Ty Pennington bringing a crew to remodel your home, he'll bring a team of doctors to treat your illness.

Posted by: biggerbox on September 23, 2009 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Don't forget Coburn gave much the same answer to one of his constituents with a similar kind of problem.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 23, 2009 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Yanno, it occurs to me that the President could use a rhetorical foil, and this theme suggests an historic precedent to follow: one of the best rhetorical devices ever was used by FDR in his 1940 re-election (for his unprecedented third term, which did not have to be a cakewalk, after all).

FDR had been attacked throughout his second term for spending too much on defense, and then suddenly, after the war broke out in September 1939 and then France fell suddenly in the spring of 1940, Republicans fell all over themselves demanding FDR spend a ton of money to "defend America first".

So Roosevelt started to quote what the Republican leadership in Congress had been saying in recent years, arguing against defense spending, and he cited their votes: but the real key was the marvelous catch phrase "Martin, Barton and Fish", as FDR named the Republican leadership who had now so spectacularly flip-flopped.

I like the Notion of President Obama giving more red-meat speeches to progressive audiences on health insurance reform, citing constituents like this, and calling out "Coburn, Cantor and Rush Limbaugh" for the hollow cruel ignorance of their responses to real people with real problems.

FDR's audiences used to call out "Martin, Barton, and Fish" with him, it was a big call and response line in his 1940 campaign.

Why not? We have video for all three: "existing government programs" means a laid-off middle class worker with a serious illness has to sell their assets or declare bankruptcy to get Medicaid; Coburn's "government is not the answer", to his constituent's plea "we need help"; and Limbaugh, well -- 'nuff said.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 23, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

"Charities"? Which charities? Many are struggling to make ends meet due to reduced donations due to the economy... because people like this woman's relative have lost jobs. My church has its own food bank, supplemented by a garden so we can hand out fresh veggies with the non-perishable food, so we can help alleviate hunger in our community. But there's no way we could come up with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to help pay for someone's surgery.

Posted by: Oregonian on September 23, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

phoebes: and we have the perfect example of a man raised in very privileged circumstances who gave his career to helping others: Ted Kennedy, whose legislation has helped most every American, and most of it in health care.

Posted by: Hannah on September 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

There was an article in a recent NYT about the drop in charitable giving, due to the bad economy. What was especially interesting was the breakdown. The religious giving remained stable. The giving for arts has gone down but not much. Where the giving has *really* dropped down was... in healthcare. So, no, charity healthcare is *not* an option.

Vis rich upbringing vs understanding the plight of "ordinary" people... Marx came from a rich family and Lenin was a long way from a serf, too.

Posted by: exlibra on September 23, 2009 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

Posted by: jvwalt on September 23, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

This is good. Real good.

Posted by: Chris- The Fold on September 23, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

The banality of evil.

Posted by: inkadu on September 23, 2009 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Lucile Presnall on December 15, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK
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