As far-right House members go, Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) is becoming more influential. Last month, for example, after three years in which lawmakers from both parties supported continuing resolutions that funded the Affordable Care Act, it was Graves who convinced right-wing lawmakers to pursue an extortion strategy. When House GOP leaders picked eight members to serve on a budget conference committee, the Georgia Republican made the cut.
Graves, despite his personal financial crises, even helped lead the charge for a debt-ceiling crisis in 2011, railing against the evils of “compromise.”
Over the weekend, the New York Times filed an interesting report from Graves’ deep red Georgia district, where locals said they’d be prepared to throw their congressman out if he backed down in a fight against Democrats.
Take a look, however, at the perspective of Jon Tripcony, a local voter who has no use for Democrats, and said he doesn’t “trust” the Affordable Care Act because it’s President Obama’s policy and the Georgian doesn’t “feel comfortable with anything he’s got to do with” (thanks to my colleague Laura Conaway for the heads-up).
Mr. Tripcony said he had a better idea for a system to provide health care at a fair price. “I think it should be the same for everybody,” he said. “One big company, whether owned by the government or private.”
Informed that he had described the single-payer system that Mr. Obama abandoned when Republican critics called it socialized medicine, he said, “Yeah, I know, it’s crazy.”
He said he might eventually seek health insurance under the new system. “In a couple of months, when they get the Web sites working, I may do it.”
And this, in a nutshell, is the root of the problem for the Republican Party going forward. There are plenty of Americans out there who consider themselves conservative, who back GOP candidates, who have nothing but contempt for the president, and who sometimes get sick.
The Republican solution for folks like Jon Tripcony, who told the NYT he underwent heart surgery not long ago without health insurance, is to wish them well and point them in the direction of the nearest emergency room, while telling them about the joys of “freedom” that comes with being uninsured.
When push comes to shove, there are Republican policymakers prepared to sabotage the federal health care system, but there aren’t many Americans prepared to sabotage their own well being. In the long road, that means more folks signing up for benefits, and fewer folks backing repeal.