House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says health care is a right; President Obama says health care is a right; the 2008 Democratic National Platform says health care is a right. Republicans say that health care is not a right. Right?
Former Republican Senate majority leaders Bill “bought and paid for by the AMA” Frist and Bob “bought and paid for by Big Pharma” Dole support health care reform, but the Republicans in Congress, who have to answer to the voters, are balking.
As much as I deplore with every fiber of my being every facet of the federal government’s intrusion into medicine, health care, and medical insurance I am still not very excited about the Republicans in Congress opposing the Democrats’ health care reform proposals.
Yes, the Republicans in Congress have correctly said that Obamacare is too expensive, too intrusive, and too socialistic. But when the late Sam Francis called the Republican Party the stupid party he was only telling half the story. The Republicans are hypocrites who frequently support legislation that is expensive, intrusive, and socialistic — especially when it is their own.
As we saw when Clinton was president, many Republicans in Congress have started talking, and some have started acting, like the conservative advocates of liberty and less government they claim to be. On the issue of health care, it even seems of late as though congressional Republicans have en masse embraced a real free market for medical care. But have these Republicans suddenly become libertarians, or are they partisan hypocrites without any real allegiance to the Constitution or the principles of liberty and limited government?
For proof that the answer is the latter we can turn to two of the biggest expansions of taxpayer-funded health insurance since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s: SCHIP and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is a partnership between federal and state governments that was created in 1997 — thanks to a Republican majority in Congress. It provides federally-funded health insurance to children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid.
Funding for the program was due to expire in March of this year. A bill (H.R. 2) reauthorizing the program and increasing its funding by $32.8 billion was passed in January with hardly any Republican support in the Senate (only 8 votes) and very little in the House (only 40 out of 173 Republicans voted for it).
But it was Republicans that created SCHIP in title IV of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (H.R. 2015). Only 12 Republicans in the Senate at the time and only 32 in the House voted against it. And when SCHIP was up for reauthorization in 2007, it passed the Senate by unanimous consent on the day the bill (S. 2499) was introduced and passed the House the next day with only 3 Republicans voting against it.
Why all the Republican opposition to SCHIP now?
And then there is the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 — thanks again to a Republican majority in Congress. Initially projected to cost about $400 billion (which is still $400 billion too much), it is now projected to cost over a trillion dollars.
This Republican version of health care reform was introduced on June 25, 2003, by the Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert. It was supported by the Republican House Majority leader Tom DeLay. It was supported by the Republican House Majority Whip Roy Blunt. It was support by the Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. It was supported by the Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell. It passed the House (220-215) and the Senate (54-44) in late 2003 with overwhelming Republican support. It was signed into law by the Republican President George Bush on December 8, 2003. As shocking as it sounds, it was Democrats that almost defeated this massive expansion of the welfare state. Only 25 Republicans in the House and 9 Republicans in the Senate voted against health care reform in 2003.
Why all the Republican opposition to health care reform now?
Since conservatives have short memories when it comes to Republicans, let’s take a look at how the Republicans currently in Congress who oppose Obama’s health care reforms supported Bush’s health care reforms back in 2003.