Suddenly, Republicans Hate Government-Health Plans -- Except for Medicare
NPR's Steve Inskeep questioned Steele about the Republicans' hypocritical denouncement of government-run health plans and their blatant effort to scare seniors by portraying the Democrats as hostile to Medicare. Steele could not provide a good answer to this line of questioning:
INSKEEP: I'm still having a little trouble with the notion that you're going to write that you're going to protect Medicare, that you're going to preserve this program to make sure that this government-run health care system stays solid in the long term...None of the proposals for healthcare reform would "nationalize" healthcare or create a "system for everybody else in the country who currently isn't on Medicare."
Mr. STEELE: Let's get it to run right.
INSKEEP: ...and yet you are opposing, quote, government-run health care.
Mr. STEELE: Exactly. Well, wait a minute. Just because, you know, I want to protect something that's already in place and make it run better and run efficiently for the senior citizens that are in that system does not mean that I want to automatically support, you know, nationalizing or creating a similar system for everybody else in the country who currently isn't on Medicare.
Doctors and Patients
Inskeep also challenged the Republican argument that Democrats want to come between patients and their doctors. Steele conceded that private insurance companies already do this. He also conceded that insurance companies are not perfect:
[T]here are issues in the insurance market that we can regulate a little bit better and that we can control better to maximize the benefits to the consumers. That's something that, yeah, we can rightly reform and fix.At this point, Inskeep pointed out the contradiction in Steele's desire for regulation and the drumbeat of criticism by conservatives who say that Democrats want to invade the private sector. Steele appeared very confused by the reality of his conflicting positions:
INSKEEP: Wait a minute, wait, wait. You would trust the government to look intoApparently lacking a good response, Steele attacked Inskeep:
[fixing insurance companies]?
Mr. STEELE: No. I'm talking about the - I'm talking about private - I'm talking about...
INSKEEP: Who is...Mr.
STEELE: ...citizens. I'm talking about...
INSKEEP: You said that's something that should be looked into. Who is it that should look into that? Mr.
STEELE: I'm talking about those who - well, who regulates the insurance markets?
INSKEEP: That would be the government, I believe.
Mr. STEELE: Well, and so it - wait a minute, hold up. You know, you're doing a wonderful little dance here and you're trying to be cute, but the reality of this is very simple. I'm not saying the government doesn't have a role to play. I've never said that. The government does have a role to play. The government has a very limited role to play.Medicare Cuts: Costs or Services?
Republicans have repeatedly argued that Obama's plan to cut costs associated with Medicare would lead to service reductions. After tough questioning by Inskeep, Steele endorsed cost-saving measures himself:
INSKEEP: So you would be in favor of certain Medicare cuts?This is the exact position that Obama has taken. Furthermore, although Republicans constantly accuse Democrats of planning to cut Medicare costs by cutting services to seniors, they fail to acknowledge that John McCain proposed to cut $1.3 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid. Mitt Romney endorsed cuts to Medicare as well. And for the purpose of full disclosure, Obama argued that McCain's proposal would cut services -- which is the same argument that the GOP is now making with respect Obama's plan.
Mr. STEELE: Absolutely. You want to maximize the efficiencies of the program. I mean, anyone who's in the program would want you to do that, and certainly those who manage it want you to that.
PS: Here is the transcript of Steele's NPR interview.
I have defended Steele in the past, but I will not defend his distortion and hypocrisy.