Friday, April 09, 2010

Nonsensical Hair-Splitting

I have long admired Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Although I was not a supporter of Hillary Clinton, of course, I admired the enthusiasm with which Wasserman-Schultz supported her, and the way that she did so using thoughtful arguments for the most part rather than ideological sloganeering. When Obama won the nomination she backed him with all of the cheerful enthusiasm that she had earlier devoted to Clinton. And she did all of this while undergoing multiple surgeries for breast cancer.

So I always take notice when she is a “guest” on cable news, and am seldom disappointed in what she has to say. Then I watched Chris Matthews engaging her yesterday in the following question and answer.

Matthews: Congresswoman, let me ask you this question. It seems to be the issue that’s grabbing people right now, is not the cost of the fiscal issues or all the complicated issues of medical care, but this libertarian argument you are beginning to hear: "I don’t want to buy health insurance. You can’t make me."

Wasserman-Schultz: Well, at my town hall, I did get that question, you know, the “What gives you the right to force me to have health care?” question. And what I explained—and a lot of people appreciated this explanation—was that we did not require in this legislation Americans to have health care. What we did was, we established a different treatment via your tax return, just like the difference between married people and unmarried people or people who have children and don’t or homeowners and renters. So, if you choose not to have health care, you can do that, but you just need to understand that you are going to be treated differently on your tax return at the end of the year, and you are going to have to—you will be assessed differently than you would have if you carry health care. So, it was a pretty simple explanation, and a lot of people appreciated it.

That is utter nonsense. It is just crap on a stick. The case in point is known universally as “the individual mandate,” and it absolutely has to do with requiring individuals to join the insurance pool.

I dislike the individual mandate, but I also recognize that it is a necessary component of the legislation which was passed. To do something which is necessary and justifiable and then weasel out of defending it by using this kind of hair-splitting nonsense, and claim that “a lot of people appreciated it,” is political sophistry worthy only of Tea Partiers and the more idiotic class of Republicans.

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