Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Armey At CPAC

Understandably, this year's Conservative Political Action Conference produced some truly outrageous statements.

Young America's Foundation spokesman Jason Mattera compared the gathering to Woodstock, quipping "except that unlike the last gathering, our women are beautiful, we speak in complete sentences and our notion of freedom doesn’t consist of snorting cocaine, which is certainly one thing that separates us from Barack Obama.”

Speaking of Tiger Woods' wife, Tim Pawlenty joked "I've had enough. We should take a page out of her playbook and take a 9-iron and smash the window out of big government."

Introducing fanatically pro-corporate and anti-income tax crusader Grover Norquist, Human Events editor Jed Babbit stated "I'm just really, really glad it wasn't him identified as flying that plane into the I.R.S. building."

Dick Armey did not disappoint the attendees, declaring (first video below) of President Obama "You're intellectually shallow. You're a romantic. You're self-indulgent. You have no ability.... There's nothing so arrogant as a self-righteous income-redistributor."

It was the most offensive remark made by the former Texas congressman and current chairman of Freedom Works, of whom Chris Matthews said (remark at end of video, the second below) on Thursday "I like Dick Armey a lot." It rivaled in bad taste Armey's comment when he appeared (third video below) with Salon's Joan Walsh on Hardball, twice condescendingly telling her "give it a rest" and then blurting "I am so damned glad that you could never be my wife because I surely wouldn't have to listen to that prattle from you- every day."

But neither of those was as ridiculous as another comment (fourth video below) made by Armey at CPAC, wherein he referred to the U.S.A. as having "the greatest health care in the world," with, among other things, the "greatest accessibility.... and that which is in fact copied by the rest of the world."

No need, here, to go into the statistics demonstrating that our nation on health care spends more than twice as much per capita as any other developed nation with outcomes no better than most. Or that over 30 million individuals residing here legally lack health insurance. Or that no other nation is rushing around to mimic our heath care system. It has been explained and described by so many others.

The New York Times noted in an editorial printed yesterday that a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in Michigan "settled" with regulators for a 22% rate increase after seeking a 56% increase. In California, Anthem Blue Cross, a subsidiary of Well point, has announced an average increase of 25% for persons in the individual market. Paul Krugman noted in his New York Times column yesterday

what WellPoint claims is that it has been forced to raise premiums because of “challenging economic times”: cash-strapped Californians have been dropping their policies or shifting into less-comprehensive plans. Those retaining coverage tend to be people with high current medical expenses. And the result, says the company, is a drastically worsening risk pool: in effect, a death spiral.

Krugman points out that "California's individual insurance market is already notable for its lack of regulation, certainly as compared with states like New York — yet the market is collapsing anyway." This makes a farce out of Armey's claim "the solution is not more government control, the solution is less government control."

Few Republicans these days are so bold, and absurd, as to claim there is not a serious health care problem in this nation. Still, no Republican, and few members of the mainstream media, will stand up to denounce Armey's ridicule of a "crisis in health care" as "a notion you're (Obama) getting away with peddling."

Democrats should be assigned some responsibility, after a year of health care debate, for not having so demolished the self-interested complacency of individuals who spread such myths. Nonetheless, the primary blame needs to be assigned to Dick Armey and others acting out of self-interest who refuse to address, and only obsure, our health care crisis.

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