Rick Santorum speaks onstage during his Illinois primary night rally in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, March 20, 2012.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Santorum uncovers ‘a pretty clever system’

Updated
When it comes to health care analysis, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) isn’t exactly a credible voice. It was, after all, the failed far-right presidential candidate who recently equated Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid to the Republican crusade against the Affordable Care Act.
 
But on Friday, Santorum was in rare form – even by his standards – speaking at a Young Americans for Freedom event at the Reagan Ranch. Andrew Kaczynski captured this striking quote, which I’ve read several times, and which I still find confusing.
“If we have a system where the government is going to be the principal provider of health care for the country, we’re done. Because then, you are dependent on the government for your life and your health. […]
 
“When Thatcher ran for prime minister she said – remember this, this is the Iron Lady – she said, ‘The British national health care system is safe in my hands.’ She wasn’t going to take on health care, because she knew once you have people getting free health care from the government, you can’t take it away from them.
 
“And the reason is because most people don’t get sick, and so free health care is just that, free health care, until you get sick. Then, if you get sick and you don’t get health care, you die and you don’t vote. It’s actually a pretty clever system. Take care of the people who can vote and people who can’t vote, get rid of them as quickly as possible by not giving them care so they can’t vote against you. That’s how it works.”
Hmm.
 
In that first paragraph, I’m not sure Santorum has fully thought his argument through. For example, the vast majority of Americans do not rely on the government as the “provider” of health care services – the exception is the U.S. military, which has government-run health care in which medical professionals are public employees – and this will not change once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented. (Under Santorum’s preferred vision, I assume the uninsured would go back to having no provider whatsoever for medical services?)
 
As for “dependence,” most of us rely on the public sector for police protection, fire emergencies, natural-disaster response, infrastructure, education, and national-security crises, but this doesn’t mean “we’re done” as a country.
 
In the second paragraph, Santorum may not appreciate the profound differences between the American and British health care systems. Either way, I guess Santorum is disappointed that Thatcher wasn’t right-wing enough?
 
And then there’s that third paragraph, which is something of a mystery. I think Santorum is trying to suggest President Obama was “clever” in creating a health care system that kills off Republican voters, but I haven’t the foggiest idea why Santorum would believe this.
 
Then again, I haven’t the foggiest idea why Santorum believes a lot of things.
 

Rick Santorum

Santorum uncovers 'a pretty clever system'

Updated