About four years ago in Nevada, Sue Lowden appeared to be well on her way to becoming a U.S. senator. The wealthy Republican ran into a little trouble, though, about a month after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.
Lowden argued that health care reform wasn’t altogether necessary because she remembered, as a young person, when families would “barter” and “haggle” with medical professionals. In one especially problematic comment, the Senate hopeful said, “You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor.”
Her candidacy collapsed soon after.
I thought of Lowden yesterday after seeing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) at CPAC.
In a mid-day address to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal fondly recalled how his own birth was paid for in a pre-Obamacare era.“My dad shook hands with the doctor,” said Jindal. “And he said to that doctor, ‘I’m going to pay you in full. I’m going to pay you every month as much as I can’ … And that’s exactly what they did.” Jindal added, “No contracts. No paperwork. No government program. Just two guys in a hospital in Baton Rouge, shaking hands.”
Jindal presumably knows a little something about health care systems – he was a prominent official in the Bush/Cheney Department of Health and Human Services – which makes it all the more curious that he sees “healthcare for handshakes” as a viable model.
It’s not. If a struggling family has high medical bills, it doesn’t have the option of telling a hospital, “I’ll pay as much as I can every month and you’ll just have to be satisfied with that. Let’s shake on it.” Medical professionals and facilities have their own bills to pay, and well-meaning handshakes won’t keep the doors open. Medical care, tests, equipment, exams, and treatments save lives every day, but they’re not free. Sometimes “paperwork” and “programs” are necessary to keep the system functioning for all involved.
If Jindal doesn’t understand that, shouldn’t he?
Perhaps even more offensive were these remarks from the same speech.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Thursday evoked half-century-old images of school segregation, accusing Attorney General Eric Holder of attempting to “stand in the schoolhouse door” to stop minority and low-income students from attending charter schools.“We’ve got Eric Holder and the Department of Justice trying to stand in the schoolhouse door to prevent minority kids, low-income kids, kids who haven’t had access to a great education, the chance to go to better schools,” Jindal said.The “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” took place in 1963, when pro-segregation Alabama Gov. George Wallace stood at the door of the University of Alabama to prevent two black students from attending class.
As a rule, there are some historical comparisons that should be broached carefully. Those who make comparisons to Nazis and slavery, for example, are, as a rule, asking for trouble.
But so too is a far-right Southern governor comparing an African-American president and an African-American attorney general to George Wallace. The Obama administration doesn’t support giving public funds to unaccountable private schools through voucher systems; Jindal disagrees. It’s a subject worthy of debate.
The governor is pushing his luck, though, when he suggests he’s the real civil-rights champion, not those progressive Democrats. To think that private academies should rely on private funds does not, in our version of reality, make you a segregationist. For Jindal to even make the comparison is truly ridiculous.
Indeed, the Louisiana governor wants public funds to go to struggling families for education, but he’s a fierce opponent of directing public funds to struggling families for health care.
By his reasoning, is Jindal a modern-day segregationist, standing in the hospital door?