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In defense of Reps. Harris and Grimm

Liberals have had a lot of fun mocking new Republican US Representatives Andy Harris and Michael Grimm, outspoken opponents of government health insurance who complained that their new Congressional health insurance didn't kick in fast enough. Ho ho ho! These guys want government health insurance for themselves, but don't want to give it to anyone else!

But this is actually a pretty easy issue to understand. What Reps. Harris and Grimm want is employer-provided health insurance. It just happens that their employer is a government entity. Employer-provided health insurance is the status quo that health care reform opponents want to preserve. I've yet to hear Tea Partiers proposing that postal workers and park rangers and police officers should be banned from getting health benefits because they work for the government.

What Reps. Harris and Grimm are objecting to when they object to government health insurance is the idea that the government should provide health insurance to everyone just by virtue of being a citizen of the US. If Harris or Grimm loses his seat at a future election and then starts insisting he should still get government-provided health insurance, we can nail him for hypocrisy. But as long as they're working for an employer that offers health insurance as a part of the standard pay and benefits package, there's no contradiction in wanting to take advantage of that just because the employer in question is the government.

(Note that while I'm defending Harris and Grimm against the charge of hypocrisy, that doesn't mean I agree with their principles about who should get health insurance.)


Blogger Alon Levy said...

Actually, in bluer states, a lot of conservatives absolutely despise the health benefits given to unionized public-sector workers. I could dig up quotes if you're interested, but in places like New York and California, it's a commonplace among most non-leftists that budget problems could be fixed if only the government didn't have to spend so much money on pensions and health benefits for its own employees.

The other part of what you say, about employer-provided health insurance, is only kind of true. The Tea Partiers are scaremongering and just want to keep what they have, but the conservative and libertarian leaders who propose reforms propose individually-bought insurance and criticize employer-provided health benefits.

5:16 PM  

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