Failed Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney caused a bit of a stir this week when he told donors President Obama won re-election because he bribed women and minorities with “big gifts,” such as health care and education. As Rachel noted on the show last night, even many on the right found his comments unhelpful.
As it turns out, that’s not all Romney said.
For those who can’t watch clips online, the Republican went on to tell supporters: “What I would do if I were a Democrat running four years from now, I’d say, ‘You know what, dental care will be included in Obamacare.’ … And Republicans will say, ‘No, that’s going to cost a trillion dollars,’ and the Democrats will say, ‘That’s fine, you know, we’ll pay it.’”
Putting aside the fact that access to affordable dental care wouldn’t cost $1 trillion, Romney’s suggestions actually sounds quite reasonable. Sure, he meant it sarcastically, and this was hardly a sincere policy idea, but if we ignore motivations, what’s wrong with the idea of including dental care in a national health care system in which Americans have access to medical attention they need?
Dental care need not be considered some superfluous luxury. Good teeth are important to digestion; healthy gums prevent heart disease; and poor dental health can lead to chronic pain. In extreme cases, untreated dental problems can be literally fatal. If you go to an area hosting a free clinic, and you see the thousands of struggling, uninsured people lining up before dawn in the hopes of seeing a physician, you’ll find many of them are looking for dental care.
Romney presented this as a ridiculous idea, as if the notion of helping families in need see a dentist is so absurd, the very suggestion is laughable. To my ear, Romney accidentally presented one of his most sensible ideas in a long while.