House minority whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) was a party to an audience question the other day that perfectly illustrated the Republican party's position on health care.
Cantor was confronted at the Richmond Times-Dispatch Public Forum, a sort of Town Hall meeting. A woman named Patricia Churchill mentioned that she had a close relative in her early forties who had lost her high paying job and found out she had stomach cancer. She is uninsured. She asked Cantor what she should do?
CANTOR: First of all, I guess I would ask what the situation is in terms of income eligibility and the existing programs that are out there. Because if we look at the uninsured that are out there right now, there is probably 23, 24% of the uninsured that is already eligible for an existing government program. Beyond that, I know that there are programs, there are charitable organizations, there are hospitals here who do provide charity care that if there’s an instance of indigency and the individual is not eligible for existing programs that there can be some cooperative effort. No one in this country, given who we are, should be sitting without an option to go be addressed.
So lets get this straight, no one should be sitting without an option? What kind of option? A public option? This from the party that has been fighting to scrub medicare for the last 20 years? And charity? Is this a Bush administration flashback? Charity can't cover 45 million uninsured americans. Great way to pump money into religious organizations but doesn't quite make a safety net.
Why not just be honest, Eric. Try something like this: The capitalist system is built on the notion of winners and losers. We all can't win, can we? So if you do fall through the cracks, you should take pleasure in the fact that you are keeping the greatest darn economy in the world scooting along by your ineptitude. Kind of sucks for you but that's how the game works. You lose. My health package is fantastic. Frankly your problem is not my problem. Capiche? Feel better?
Now never mind that even to qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, you pretty much have to be at the poverty level making no income. So shuffling these poor uninsured folks over to an unnamed government program might not be in the real best interests of the republic.
Cantor appeared ready to cry uncle today when asked about healthcare and the invisible Republican Health Care Reform package:
Cantor said, "Health care in this building has made it so that it seems we can't get anything else done. We have burning issues out there in this country. First and foremost, Americans want to see job security return; they want to see economic security return. Somehow, they are unable to deliver on that because of the intransigence on the majority's part on even discussing on ways for us to agree on health care.
He continued, "We have serious challenges as far as Afghanistan is concerned, that's being clouded by the rigidity by which this majority hangs on to H.R. 3200 [the House health-care legislation] and the imposition of a public option."
As in, if you people would get off unimportant and personally embarrassing topics like healthcare, we could get to the really important stuff that matters in this country.
And just so I can say I told you so, check out the response to Max Baucus' courageous outreach on healthcare. Not a single Republican Senator would come across the aisle with support, no matter how watered down he eventually made his creation. Just as I predicted. He had as much chance at getting a vote out of that bunch as a tbone steak has walking by a doberman pinscher.* Why bother?
*last week I used a similar metaphor, a porterhouse and a rottweiler. I discussed this over reliance on canines and beef with my wife but we failed miserably at finding a reasonable sustitute. Negro at a klan meeting? Please send your suggestions to email@example.com.