The Republican perspective on health care

THE REPUBLICAN PERSPECTIVE ON HEALTH CARE…. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) is not in a position to speak for the entire congressional Republican caucus, but if his perspective is the norm inside the GOP, we probably shouldn’t look for too much bipartisan cooperation in the debate over health care reform.

This clip shows Wamp, who clearly doesn’t have the foggiest idea what he’s talking about, condemning the Obama administration’s health care proposal as “the next major step towards socialism.” Wamp also argues that the president intends to “take away your deductions for charitable contributions” (which is patently false) and eliminate “your mortgage deduction on your home” (which is also patently false).

Wamp added, “Listen, the 45 million people that don’t have health insurance — about half of them choose not to have health insurance.” He then argued, “Listen, health care a privilege…. For some people it’s a right. But for everyone, frankly, it’s not necessarily a right.”

For no apparent reason, Wamp, while insisting there are tens of millions of Americans who choose to go without any coverage, also argued, “How many illegal immigrants are in this country today, getting our health care? Gobs of ’em.”

It’s pretty obvious that for a guy like Wamp, facts are annoyances to be avoided, but Ryan Powers explained, “Aside from the fact that healthcare for Americans cannot — from an economic or a humanitarian stand point — be viewed as a privilege, Wamp is misrepresenting exactly why so many Americans lack coverage. Indeed, as the Kaiser Family foundation documented, 64 percent of American workers who are uninsured are not actually offered an employer-sponsored health care plan. In all, just 20 percent of uninsured workers who are offered employer-sponsored coverage decline to participate. Further, those workers — and low-wage workers in particular — who decline to participate in employer-sponsored plans often do so because they are unable to afford coverage, even with the contributions offered by their employers.”

When pressed on how Republicans would address the health care crisis, Wamp said he supports “extending health care to the people that need it, not turning the whole health-care system over to the government.” And how do we extend health care to the people that need it? Tax cuts, of course.

And House Republicans still wonder why no one takes them seriously on matters of public policy.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.