Clunker cars and health insurance debates

    In the past week Americans have been bombarded with news about health care plans and clunker cars.
    But its the one sided partisanship behind the news that has prompted WHYY’s Chris Satullo to comment on this week’s Center Square radio essay.

    Listen: [audio: satullo20090809.mp3]

    I’ve tried, I really have.

    I seek to keep these commentaries on an even keel, equal scorn for liberals and conservatives alike. But sometimes there’s too much provocation.

    So, after this week’s Capitol Hill spats over Cash for Clunkers and health care, I have to ask: Has the Republican Party taken leave of reality?

    Does it really believe the flaming nonsense spewed by its jackal chorus at Fox News? Does it still believe its discredited clichés about government being America’s main problem?

    More than 70 percent of us want health care reform. So what is the GOP stance? Basically this: Whatever Barack Obama is for, we’re agin it. We’ll tell any tall tale if it helps us “beat” him.

    Behold the high-octane hypocrisy. Capitol Hill Republicans are shocked, just shocked at the notion that America can’t afford to pay any price for last-chance treatments to the very aged or terminal. How, they intone, can you put a price on a human life?

    Wait, aren’t these the same guys who for decades have opposed every life-saving environmental or consumer regulation, citing the cost burden on business?

    Tired Gipperisms, they’ve got. Logic not so much: One moment they’re warning that government-run health care will be a nightmare of inept, costly bureaucracy. The next, they’re grousing that poor little corporate insurers could never hope to compete against a government plan. Huh?

    This crew tries to turn even successful government initiatives into an argument against health care reform. Take Cash for Clunkers.

    This incentive to get people to trade gas-guzzlers in for new, high-mileage cars was a three-fer. It helped the struggling car sector, while boosting two other vital goals: curbing greenhouses gases and reliance on foreign oil.

    Cash for Clunkers was so popular it ran through the first chunk of funding right quick. Congress approved another on Thursday.

    Capitol Hill Republicans tried to make this success sound like a flub as grievous as their past work on Iraq, say, or New Orleans.

    People who have a thorough contempt for governing have a hard time recognizing good government when they see it.

    This crew is still vowing to run government more like a business, and expecting us to applaud. Meanwhile, we’re thinking: Which business? Enron? Worldcom? Lehman Brothers? God, spare us from that fate.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.