GOP LEADER WOULD HAVE PREFERRED NO MEDICARE…. Most of the time, mainstream politicians from both parties are reluctant to publicly criticize programs like Medicare. It’s a popular mainstay of American society, providing health care to retirees.

It was interesting, then, to hear Rep. Roy Blunt (R) of Missouri suggest yesterday that Medicare never should have been created in the first place.

“[Y]ou could certainly argue that government should have never have gotten in the health care business, and that might have been the best argument of all, to figure out how people could have had more access to a competitive marketplace.

“Government did get into the health care business in a big way in 1965 with Medicare, and later with Medicaid, and government already distorts the marketplace.”

Blunt went on to argue that he’d like to see “people have many more options,” just so long as those options are limited to unregulated private insurance companies.

It’s a reminder of how the status quo can trip up GOP leaders. The current system already has the government playing a role in making health care available to the elderly, military personnel and veterans, the poor, and low-income children. None of these developments have ushered in the collapse of capitalism or a dystopian bureaucratic nightmare for consumers. It puts Republicans in the position of having to explain why it’s fine for the government to play a health care role in some contexts but not others.

Or, conversely, as Blunt demonstrates, it puts them in a position of having to argue that even Medicare was the wrong way to go.

And who’s Roy Blunt? He’s not only the leading Republican candidate for the Senate next year, he’s also the man leading the Houses Republican caucus’ “Health Care Task Force.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.