This morning, on Fox News Channel’s America’s Newsroom, discussion turned to the asinine comments made yesterday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in which he insinuated that the Republicans opposing health care reform were akin to those who opposed the end of slavery, women’s suffrage, and the civil rights movement.
“Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, ‘slow down, stop everything, let’s start over.’ If you think you’ve heard these same excuses before, you’re right,” Reid said yesterday. “When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said ‘slow down, it’s too early, things aren’t bad enough.’”
Never mind, of course, that the people Reid is speaking of were Democrats.
A few minutes into the segment this morning, talk turned from Reid’s arrogance revisionist history to the prospect of the Democrats’ plan for health care reform in general. When the conversation reached a point where the overall cost of the plan and focus of the Obama administration was being [rightly] questioned by former George W. Bush aide Brad Blakeman, laughing on the other side of the split screen was Richard Harpootlian, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.
Responding to a very valid question about rising joblessness as it relates to health care in America–what good is affordable health care if you don’t have a job to pay for it?–Harpootlian first stated that “Republican President George W. Bush left such a mess” and that President Obama has to deal with “jobs, health insurance, wars and economic collapse,” and then used his own life as an example of why we desperately need Harry Reid’s brand of health care reform.
“I’m a small business man,” Harpootlian said. “I employ six people. I cannot afford to continue to pay for their health care plan under the current laws. If you think that we ought to ignore reforming the health care system, tell that to my employees because next year, if it continues at this rate, they’re not going to have health care either, because I cannot afford to continue paying for it.”
Just for a moment, ignore the alternatives which have been presented by the Republican Party, alternatives which the Congressional Budget Office says will drive down the cost of the same premiums the Democrats’ plan will increase for a cost to taxpayers of $61 billion over ten years instead of $2.5 trillion or more. Forget for a moment that the GOP’s plan would directly address Harpootlian’s concerns by opening the private insurance market up to interstate competition and allowing small businesses to pool employees and risk in order to achieve buying power. Ignore the facts as they apply to Harpootlian, just temporarily, because when asked where the money would come from for so-called health care reform and confronted with an exponentially expanding budget deficit under President Obama, he said something that actually made me shoot hot coffee out of my nose.
“Raise my taxes,” Harpootlian insisted. “I make an assload of money!”
“Take some of it, and help defer or pay down this deficit,” he said, pointing at the camera. “People who make a half million dollars or more that won’t pay another five or ten thousand dollars a year to get the deficit down are unpatriotic. I can’t go to Afghanistan, I can’t go to Iraq, but I’m willing to pay some of the money. Instead of spending it on a trip to Tuscany this summer, I’ll be more than happy to pay that to the government to pay down the debt.”
Good grief — if Harpootlian is the type of Democrat I’ll be facing in South Carolina once I pay off my law school debt by practicing for a few years, getting into politics down there should be far easier than I thought. He seems like a decent, hard-working man. He has a stellar reputation as an extremely talented attorney and absolutely legendary litigator. And he’s certainly better than many of the Democrats who patently refuse to enter the debate at all on Fox News Channel. But in this case, I’m on ten hours of sleep over the past three days, I can barely formulate a complete and coherent thought, and dismantling his argument is like shooting fish in a barrel. With a cannon.
I mean, far be it for me to question the profits being made by a small business owner, but shouldn’t it seem a little unseemly for a high-profile Democrat like Harpootlian to complain about leaving his six employees high and dry next year without health insurance while he continues to make an “assload of money” and enjoy summer vacations in Tuscany. Isn’t his party the party of the little guy? Of wealth redistribution? Of bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots?
At the very least, why should the rest of America foot the bill and settle for reduced quality of and access to care so Harpootlian can continue to go wine-tasting each summer while his employees are pushed to the public option? If the Democrats would actually listen to Republicans rather than pathetically and falsely decry them as the obstructionist “party of no” (see Rep. Steny Hoyer’s laughable speech HERE), small business owners like Harpootlian could actually provide health coverage for employees while not cutting into the bottom line.
Furthermore, Harpootlian’s populist notion that taxing the wealthiest among us is the key to paying down the national debt ignores the fact that even if we taxed 100 percent of the profits of General Electric, Exxon Mobil, IBM and that evil Wal-Mart, we still would come short of being able to pay one third of the amount we need to service the debt America is in now. Even if 100 percent of all personal income tax revenue from each and every taxpayer in America–the wealthy included–were confiscated for the next ten years and earmarked solely for the purpose of paying off the national debt, we’d still fall short of paying the principal we owe now, nonetheless the interest mounting by the second.
So, if Richard Harpootlian thinks it’s patriotic to pay an extra five or ten thousand dollars to the Internal Revenue Service in April, good for him. Nobody is stopping him from paying extra. In the opinion of this particular soon-to-be South Carolinian, however, the true measure of patriotism is freedom and how vigorously you fight for it. That’s what makes those kids in Afghanistan and Iraq patriotic. That’s what makes concerned Americans fighting against the encroachment of government here in America patriotic. The collection of federal income tax may be proscribed by the Sixteenth Amendment, and paying taxes may be a necessary evil, but Form 1040 and its cohorts are no measure of patriotism.
If Democrats like Harry Reid and Richard Harpootlian are okay with citing historical fallacies and blaming George W. Bush (rightfully, in some cases), they can do just that on their one-way trip to political irrelevance. In the meantime, America is in desperate need of actual, real-world solutions, not just rhetoric comparing Republicans to civil rights era Democrats or ignoring viable, repeatedly presented alternatives in order to blindly portray GOP opposition as obstructionist.
And, as for Mr. Harpootlian, he should consider the merits of the Republican plan. Politics and parties aside, it’s a better option for him, just as it is for the rest of America. That way, he can enjoy the money he’s making, know that his employees are taken care of, and even expand his practice this fall to include a hungry, relatively intelligent new attorney ready for his exodus from the Philadelphia area. (Nudge, nudge.)