Friday, October 12, 2007

Do Children Deserve To Have Health Insurance?

Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize win knocked the right's war against the Frost family out of first place on Memeorandum, but Michelle Malkin isn't giving up. Today she has a post asking whether the Frosts "deserve government-subsidized health insurance" given that they have three cars.

This question is for grown-ups only: Who deserves government-subsidized health insurance?

What if I told you I drove these three cars (photos are showroom models):

A Volvo SUV…
[photo of car]
A GMC Suburban…
[photo of car]
And a nice, big Ford F250 Pickup work truck…
[photo of car]

Notice what Malkin is doing here. She posted photographs of a NEW Volvo SUV, a NEW GMC Suburban, a NEW ("nice, big") Ford 250 Pickup work truck, and carefully told us the photos were of showroom models -- why? Obviously, to put it out there that the Frosts have the money to own three brand-new glamorous, expensive car models, without taking responsibility for the impression created by the photographs. She knows her disclaimer will not alter the effect those photographs of beautiful, shiny new cars create when linked with her words, "What if I told you I drove these three cars?" Not "these three car models." These three cars. It does not matter that she has told her readers "these three cars" are only showroom models, and not the cars owned by the Frost family. Readers will have that information, but they will still think, "Oh my god! These people must be filthy rich if they can fork out the kind of money these cars cost! And THREE of them, no less!" The cars could be 10 years old. They could be clunkers that are running on Elmer's glue and fervent prayers. Doesn't matter at all, and of course, Malkin does not even hint at such possibilities. Maha calls this "a variation on the old 'Cadillac Queen' myth, of the black welfare recipient who drives to the store in a Cadillac to buy groceries with food stamps."
Of course, the Cadillac might be fifteen years old and in dire need of a muffler. FYI: half the hillbillies in the Ozarks own more than one car, although rarely are they all in working condition. The time-honored practice is to keep one going by stripping parts off the others. In my old neighborhood back in the day, every third home was graced by some rusted vehicle on cinder blocks in the yard. People who cared about appearances kept the heap in the back yard, of course.

E.J. Dionne takes a pet right-wing meme and neatly turns it around on them:
... rather than just condemn the right-wingers as meanies, let's take their claims seriously. Doing so makes clear that they are engaged in a perverse and incoherent form of class warfare.

The left is accused of all manner of sins related to covetousness and envy whenever it raises questions about who benefits from Bush's tax cuts and mentions the yachts such folks might buy or the mansions they might own. But here is a family with modest possessions doing everything conservatives tell people they should do, and the right trashes them for getting help to buy health insurance for their children.

Most conservatives favor government-supported vouchers that would help Graeme attend his private school, but here they turn around and criticize him for . . . attending a private school. Federal money for private schools but not for health insurance? What's the logic here?

Conservatives endlessly praise risk-taking by entrepreneurs and would give big tax cuts to those who are most successful. But if a small-business person is struggling, he shouldn't even think about applying for SCHIP.

Conservatives who want to repeal the estate tax on large fortunes have cited stories -- most of them don't check out -- about farmers having to sell their farms to pay inheritance taxes. But the implication of these attacks on the Frosts is that they are expected to sell their investment property to pay for health care. Why?

Because, replies Powerline's Paul Mirengoff, "... [C]onservatives don't 'tell people' to own an expensive home to the detriment of being able to buy health insurance for their children." Instead, they tell people to buy health insurance for their children to the detriment of having a place to live.

Mirengoff adds:
And, while many conservatives support vouchers to help poor kids escape from terrible public schools, they would finance the vouchers with the money already being spent to educate these kids in public schools, not with a new spending program. Thus, when Dionne writes, "Federal money for private schools but not for health insurance? What's the logic here?" he is hiding the ball.

Which, of course, does not answer Dionne's question at all. The far right has been attacking Halsey and Bonnie Frost for not getting full-time jobs and selling everything they own to pay for health insurance. Why don't these same right-wing extremists demand that parents get better jobs and sell everything they own so they can move to where the public schools are better -- or so they can pay for private schools on their own? Why do Bush conservatives think it's right and proper to help parents get their children into private schools, but not to help parents buy health insurance so their children can receive medical care when needed?

Steve Benen also has some answers for Dionne -- slightly more plausible ones:
First, yes, many conservatives believe it’s great for public funds to finance private school tuition, but wrong for public funds to finance private healthcare plans. The difference is, these same conservatives don’t like public schools. Helping kids is irrelevant.

Second, yes, these same conservatives talk about small businesses with a certain fondness, but only in the context of tax cuts. If a small-business owner can’t afford healthcare, then the family is supposed to go without — or apparently rely on private donations from generous people in the community who are somehow willing to subsidize private insurance.

Third, these conservatives really do expect the Frosts to sell their modest row house to help pay for health insurance. As Tom Tomorrow imagined it, for those who are fortunate enough to find an insurance company willing to cover them, cutting back on having a home in order to pay for insurance — “in case anything bad happens to me” — makes perfect sense.

Dionne added, “Conservatives claim to be in favor of stable families, small businesses, hard work, private schools, investment and homeownership. So why in the world are so many on the right attacking the family of Graeme Frost?”

Because they got in the way, and might have encouraged others to do the same. See how easy this is to understand?

1 comment:

thornbush said...

Quite regrettably it appears the 'Swift-Boating Season' is now fully open once again, with no daily or season game limits, and apparently no rules.

The cruel twist this time is that instead of the righties' ad hominem attacking the man, the ruthless right now attacks the boy messenger (ad puer?).

Lost in all this of course, is any intelligent discussion from the right on the real issue at hand – affordable health insurance and health care for all. But perhaps that is indeed the wingnuts' intention. No?

I think it's going to be a long, ugly season, sadly.

(PS - Good for Al Gore, and congratulations!)