Friday, March 06, 2009

Craziest Republican of the Day: Zach Wamp

By Michael J.W. Stickings

For saying, in an interview on MSNBC, that health care is a "privilege." When pressed further, he said that "for some people it's a right" but that "for everyone, frankly, it’s not necessarily a right."

Apparently Rep. Wamp of Tennessee believes in feudalism. Otherwise, what the hell did he mean? That health care is a right for people who can afford it, for society's "elect," while for everyone else it's just a privilege?

I realize that there are disagreements among serious people about what constitutes "rights," and that any sort of "right" to health care may not be a right in the way, say, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are rights, but how in a civilized society, in any decent society, in any moral society, can health care be deemed nothing more than a privilege, as if those who have it should thank their lucky stars. Wamp might as well have said that it is a privilege for people to be able to put food in their bellies.

As Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio put it in response to Wamp, "[w]ell my reaction is that it was said by somebody who has a really good health [insurance] plan as a member of the House of Representatives." So true.

Perhaps Wamp thinks he has a right to heath care, perhaps not. Either way, he evidently thinks that he deserves it, and, indeed, that he deserves his position of privilege. And so he attacks health care reform as "class warfare" and "a fast march towards socialism," opposing any government initiative to extend coverage. Who cares about the masses of uninsured?

Seriously, though, half of the uninsured choose not to have coverage? Really? Whatever the real number, that's not the problem -- the problem is that millions of Americans don't have coverage, period, and that the market-driven coverage they do have requires them to go through profit-driven HMOs to beg for treatment, or that even with coverage treatment is simply too expensive for them. A young person who is healthy and who isn't covered isn't the problem. Indeed, such a person wouldn't be a problem even if there were universal health care -- if you only rarely go to a doctor and do not take medication, how much do you cost the system?

All Wamp is doing is trying to deny coverage to those who want and need it by hurling around labels like "class warfare" and "socialism," by shifting the terms of the debate and claiming it's all about "choice," and by spewing ideological extremism from his position of privilege. How easy it is for him to be so patronizing, so dismissive of the wants and needs of regular, ordinary Americans, of those without such glorious privilege. How easy it is for him to be so... Republican.

Watch the madness:

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