Maine Gov. Paul LePage likens the IRS to the Gestapo
And for that he's rewarded with our award for Craziest Republican of the Day.
The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram reports:
Gov. Paul LePage used his weekly radio address to blast President Obama's health care law and described the Internal Revenue Service as the "new Gestapo."
The IRS description was a reference to a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires Americans not insured by their employers or Medicaid to buy health insurance or pay an annual penalty when filing their tax returns. The provision, known more broadly as the individual mandate, was the subject of a multi-state lawsuit, but was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
LePage said the court decision has "made America less free."
"We the people have been told there is no choice," he said. "You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo -- the IRS."
Yes, because whenever the government requires you to do something, like wear seat belts or, I don't know, not steal from people, it's just like the Gestapo.
You know, those horrible Nazis who forced Germans to get health care and levied a penalty when they didn't.
What brutal totalitarianism that was.
Seriously, LePage isn't just crazy, he's a fucking idiot.
The response has been swift:
Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant, responding to LePage's remarks, said, "We've come to expect a bunch of nonsense from Gov. LePage, but this is a step too far. There appears now to be no limit to the extreme language he will use to misinform, degrade and insult people. Somebody needs to explain to him that he's the governor of a state, and not a talk radio host. I demand a full apology on behalf of all those who suffered at the hands of the real Gestapo."
"There is nothing that degrades politics more than purported leaders who so cavalierly invoke the worst in human history when they can't get their way in legitimate, modern policy disagreements," Grant said.
An apology would be fine, but "a full apology on behalf of all those who suffered" seems a bit much.
I understand that hyperbole is often used in politics, and even if he's an idiot LePage hardly meant to dismiss the Gestapo's real victims.
The real issue here is that Republicans like LePage -- which is to say, most Republicans these days -- traffic not just in such exaggerated language but in extremist opposition to government. So much so that the government can't do anything without being called oppressive, or worse.
So in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's ruling we heard all sorts of nonsense about how freedom was under attack, about how the Constitution was being undone, about how the American way of life was being destroyed -- from elected officials, from commentators, from special-interest groups. As if a requirement to purchase health insurance, necessary because it lowers costs, constitutes something along the lines of what Pol Pot did in Cambodia, or what Stalin did.
"You don't want decent health coverage? You don't want care in the event of illness? Off to the gulag!"
As silly as it is, this comment from LePage fits right in with that line of attack. And while the language is certainly part of the problem, reflective of simplistic thinking and gross partisanism, the real problem is the "philosophy" behind it, the view that the best form of government is really no government at all, a government that protects property, at least the property of the privileged, but does little else, certainly nothing in terms of building a fair and just society.
What these conservatives clearly want is the Hobbesian/Lockean state of nature with a law-and-order Leviathan to ensure that the strong really do prevail. Or, in more contemporary terms, what they want is a society along the lines of what Ayn Rand wanted.