Another Republican Wingnut Spouts Surreal IdiocyPosted: August 18, 2011
Another day, another Republican wingnut reveals his ugly inner self. This time it’s Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Let’s see … where to begin….
Via Think Progress: At a town hall meeting in Pryor, OK, a woman who advocates for people in nursing homes asked Coburn a how we can balance the budget and also make sure the “frail elderly” are protected.
QUESTION: With more and more cuts in Medicare and Medicaid on the horizon, I’m really worried about protecting our frail elderly in the Medicare and Medicaid facilities. So I would like to know how Congress proposes to balance the budget and still make sure our frail elderly in these facilities are protected and have trained care staff, especially in the home care services for seniors sector.
COBURN: That’s a great question. The first question I have for you is if you look in the Constitution, where is it the federal government’s role to do that? That’s number one. Number two is the way I was brought up that’s a family responsibility, not a government responsibility.
Think Progress responds to Coburn’s questions:
The answer to Coburn’s first question is Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The Constitution gives Congress the power to “to lay and collect taxes” and to “provide for the…general welfare of the United States.” No plausible interpretation of the words “general welfare” does not include programs that ensure that all Americans can live their entire lives secure in the understanding that retirement will not force them into poverty and untreated sickness.
IMO the way Coburn was “brought up” resulted in his becoming a raving psychopathic lunatic. Does he have any idea how much nursing home care costs? If he gets his way, not only will the elderly be dying on the streets of American cities, but also their formerly middle-class relatives will be out on the streets with them.
More of Coburn’s remarks in Pryor:
He went on to say that government programs such as Medicare are primarily responsible for rapidly rising health-care costs, and that Medicare has made the medical system worse.
“You can’t tell me the system is better now than it was before Medicare,” he said.
Coburn agreed that some people received poor care – or no care – before Medicare was enacted in the 1960s, but said communities worked together to make sure most people received needed medical attention.
He also conceded that doctors and hospitals often went unpaid for their efforts, or accepted baked goods or chickens in partial payment.
At a town hall meeting in Langley, OK, Coburn responded to a man who asked, in a question about Medicare, if Obama “wants to destroy America.”
Coburn’s full response via Greg Sargent:
“No, I don’t… He’s a very bright man. But think about his life. And think about what he was exposed to and what he saw in America. He’s only relating what his experience in life was…
“His intent isn’t to destroy. It’s to create dependency because it worked so well for him. I don’t say that critically. Look at people for what they are. Don’t assume ulterior motives. I don’t think he doesn’t love our country. I think he does.
“As an African American male, coming through the progress of everything he experienced, he got tremendous benefit through a lot of these programs. So he believes in them. I just don’t believe they work overall and in the long run they don’t help our country. But he doesn’t know that because his life experience is something different. So it’s very important not to get mad at the man. And I understand, his philosophy — there’s nothing wrong with his philosophy other than it’s goofy and wrong [laughter] — but that doesn’t make him a bad person.”
Kind of takes your breath away doesn’t it? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many dog whistles in a brief public statement before. Coburn didn’t specify what “programs” Obama supposedly benefited from.
Obama grew up in a middle-class white family. Obama claims his mother was on food stamps for a short time, but he went to an expensive private school in Honolulu and then attended three very expensive private institutions of higher learning: Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard University.
As a far as I know, Obama was never on Welfare and did not share the life experiences of most African Americans. He reportedly had student loans–but that’s not an African American thing–and perhaps Affirmative Action helped him get into Columbia and Harvard–but that’s just speculation. When did he benefit from Medicare or Medicaid?
Bizarrely, Sargent actually tries to defend Coburn’s remarks. Is Sargent suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or something?
So, I think the notion that somehow black people benefit from social insurance like Medicare but white people don’t is a pretty ugly one, but fairly central to the effectiveness of the conservative argument against the welfare state. Even as Republicans win elections by scaring the crap out of white seniors over cuts to Medicare, and Democrats do the same, somehow, the notion that black people are the ones gaining a “tremendous advantage” prevails. Turns out “entitlement” has more than one meaning here.
What I enjoy about this argument though, is that where most conservatives try to argue that these programs don’t do what they’re supposed to do, Coburn essentially grants the notion that these programs help people who otherwise would lack the means to do so–that in fact, a little help from the government can help someone from a family of modest means become the president of the United States.He just thinks that the government making sure poor people and old people have health care is “goofy,” because it’s morally wrong that people aren’t consigned to poverty by virtue of being born into a family that can’t afford health care.
Finally, at the town hall meeting in Langley, Coburn joked about possibly shooting some of his Senate colleagues:
“It’s just a good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor,” Coburn told an audience, according the Tulsa World. Coburn also called his colleagues “a class of career elitists” and “cowards,” though he also described them as good people.
A spokesman for the Oklahoma Republican said “Dr. Coburn was obviously joking and would be happy to personally apologize to any of his colleagues who were offended.”
“That said, his frustration with a Congress that has inflicted severe economic damage on the country is well-known and well-founded. Fortunately, actions speak louder than words. Few have done more to try to bridge the divide in Congress and come up with a solution than Dr. Coburn,” spokesman John Hart told CBS News Thursday.
Whew! Just another day in the life of a wingnut lunatic. How do these people get elected in the first place?