The best thing about the upcoming, 2012 election is that the ominous "Obamacare" was a Republican idea. But now since this alternative to Hillarycare was signed into law by a (gasp) Democratic president, the GOP has been trying to peg it as radical, socialist. Kenyan. Republicans now have to be against their own ideas.
Politicians, who are already adept wafflers and wrigglers, are shadowboxing with their pre-Obama-Administration-selves. It's a very avant garde, off-off-Broadway production sponsored by Koch Industries and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Yes. Weird, but totally worth watching. In 2009, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich merrily made the talk show rounds denouncing Obamacare as "rationing." During the health-care reform debate, he warned Americans of those "death panels."
Yet, what about the conservative-maligned individual mandate? Turns out, Newt touted it as a shiny Republican idea -- the gleaming hope of the nation -- a superior proposal to anything the Clintons could ever come up with in 1994. But now, he's against it.
Well, kind of against it. This week on "Meet The Press," David Gregory pressed Gingrich on this very issue. The politician said, "Well, I agree that all of us have a responsibility to pay -- help pay for health care ... I've said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond ..." Gregory then asked, "But that is the individual mandate, is it not?" Gingrich's answer, "It's a variation on it."
So Newt agrees with Obamacare, unless it's called Obamacare. Then, he's against it. Because it's Obamacare -- and that's secular socialism, according to the thrice-married author.
Then, there's former Governor of Massachusetts and current resident of San Diego, Mitt Romney. As governor, Romney signed a bill in Massachusetts for what ended up being the model for Obamacare. But now he strangely must denounce Obamacare, so he says he'd repeal and replace it. Presumably with a similar version of Obamacare he'll then be for. It's indeed a difficult stance to take.
Romney's law is popular in his state. People who live under the dreaded Obamacare model -- like it. It's not perfect, but neither is the highway system, and we don't talk about repealing and replacing that.
"It's difficult to see how an acknowledged success in Massachusetts can become a presumptive failure nationally," said Duvall Patrick, the state's current governor. "But you know, this is more about politics than policy."
Speaking of policy: What is the new Republican idea on health care? Is their new idea to kill their old idea? That's not actually an idea. And "leave it up to the states" is a plan like "it's there" is an atlas.
But perhaps the most tone-deaf unapologetically obtuse thing said by a Republican politician on health care comes from newbie Senator Rand Paul who, at a hearing of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Primary Health, announced that anyone who believes in universal health care is advocating slavery. Yes. Slavery. Because a right to health care would mean poor U.S. doctors (the highest paid doctors in the world) would be conscripted along with (according to Paul) -- janitors.
Ask anyone who's ever been middle-class under age 65 and found themselves sick, if they feel free. Ask anyone who's ever stared at a pile of medical bills wondering if bankruptcy is the only answer, if that isn't a form of indentured serfdom.
Senator Paul's namesake, Ayn Rand, collected Social Security and Medicare. She knew her medical expenses could cost more than she made writing books. So for all the bloviating about the evils of government -- the fantasy fiction writer, who inspired selfishness and elitism, had a deathbed conversion to socialized medicine.
I believe there are atheists in foxholes. And, apparently, libertarians on Medicare. But they're playing Semantic Twister. Now, right hand red.
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and fill-in host at The Young Turks. Tina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.