I recall an incident from one of the early Tea Party rallies against the Affordable Health Care Act. A reporter walked up to shrunken, wizardly looking old man who had a tri-cornered hat perched on his head and waving a “Don’t Tread on Me” sign and asked him why he out was demonstrating. In a heavy Southern accent he told her that he was protesting the federal government takeover of health insurance. He said that the government had no business poking its nose into health care. When reporter asked the gentleman whether he was old enough to qualify for Medicare, he responded “Of course! I’m 82!” Then she asked him how he would react if someone tried to take his Medicare insurance away from him. He bristled up, patted the big pistol strapped to his skinny hips and growled, ”I would like to see Obama try!”
The battle cry of Republican politicians is reducing the size of the federal government and cutting taxes, especially for the wealthy special interests that contribute to their campaigns. However, in addition to using those campaign contributions to cover their opponents with mud at election time, Republican politicians also have to win over and make themselves seem useful to all of the Joe Nobodies who make up most of their constituents because without their votes they couldn’t stay in office term after term.
Down here in the South our Republican lawmakers specialize in championing pork barrel projects in Washington which allow them to bring home the bacon to their states and districts. We have a Senator who has represented Alabama for what seems like forever. He always campaigns on limiting federal spending and cutting the taxes and he votes that way as well. However, at the same the Senator brags about all of the pork he has brought back to his home state. And he has done that. He has used his senior status on Senate committees to add special riders to important pieces of legislation which he knows will pass in order to funnel federal money into his state’s economy. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have seen this Senator take credit for keeping Alabama military bases from being shut down, for bringing in extra funding for highway construction or repair, for ensuring that research projects were awarded to state companies and/or universities, etc. I have even seen him take credit for channeling money from a federal program into the state after he previously voted to drastically cut funding for the program. Of course he isn’t the only one. All of our Republican politicians make a habit of feeding at the public trough. That is one of the reasons why Alabama pulls in $1.92 in benefits for every $1.00 its citizens pay in federal taxes.
Of course Republican politicians in Washington are firmly against federal government regulating any business. They always opt for less regulation from Washington and for allowing their big business friends to regulate themselves. When that’s not practical they prefer regulation by the states whose legislators are more easily influenced by big money lobbyists. Well state regulation is exactly what we have when it comes to health care practices. The federal government has no regulatory influence over hospitals in this country. Depending on the state, hospitals operate under some combination of regulation by state health departments and/or self regulation. The Center for Disease Control can only suggest procedures and protocols, has no regulatory powers, and can’t even send representatives to a hospital without being invited.
Yet when a Dallas hospital was totally unprepared when an Ebola patient came though their doors (twice) and their poorly trained hospital staff made several serious (and perhaps deadly) mistakes in his care, Republican politicians were soon on every cable news channel blaming the entire affair on the Obama administration and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). (This is not at all surprising since they always try to blame every problem on the President and his team.) By the way, this is the same CDC for which the Republicans in congress voted to cut funding. Funding was also cut for the National Institute of Health (NIH) which works on preventive measures like Ebola vaccines and cures. Had that federal agency’s funding not cut over the last ten years, it is likely an Ebola vaccine and/or cure could have been developed in time to stop the current outbreak in Africa in its tracks before it spread to this country.
Not once did the Republican lawmakers criticize the State of Texas Health Department which regulates hospitals in that state or Texas governor for whom the head of the Health Department works. Oh, that’s right, they can’t be culpable; they are also all Republicans.
When they are not trying to blame President Obama for the Ebola problems, the Republicans have been pushing hard for measures that would restrict people traveling from the three African countries with Ebola problems from entering the United States and for mandatory quarantines for anyone who has been around the disease. Never mind that both measures are not medically necessary and both will make it more difficult to stop the virus at its source in Africa. They also called on the President to name a federal Ebola czar (and then complained about the person he named to that post). Whoa, don’t these Republican politicians hate regulations and restrictions and don’t want the federal government in control. No, they are only against federal government regulations and restrictions when they are applied to their corporate friends. They are very content to use any emergency (think back on the war on terror) as an excuse to establish federal regulations and measures, no matter how draconian, which only restrict the rights of individuals.
All and all here is one descriptive term that describes Republican politicians and their many of their followers perfectly – they are all hypocrites.