Scarborough And Steele Spar In Heated Debate Over Health Care: Steele Tells MSNBC Host, ‘Spare Me’

Fresh off his comedic performance at the National Press Club yesterday, RNC Chairman Michael Steele again demonstrated this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that he doesn’t “do policy.” MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch asked Steele for his “one suggestion” of what he would do to bring down health care costs.

“I’ll give you three,” Steele boasted. The RNC Chairman then listed them off: 1) “You’ve got portability,” 2) “Let’s create co-ops,” and 3) “Let’s make it so that the people who aren’t employed or have an employer at the time can deduct their health care if they’re not getting it through their employer.” But Steele wasn’t done. “I’ll give you an extra one: let’s do tort reform!”

“Mr. Chairman,” Scarborough responded, “I agree with you on all four points, but you can add up all those four points and none of them are going to take care of the overriding issue” – exploding health care costs. The dispute eventually led to this heated exchange:

SCARBOROUGH: Those four issues will not cut costs.

STEELE: You’re absolutely wrong! Joe —

SCARBOROUGH: Are you here telling me if we do those four things — (crosstalk) Hold on a second!

STEELE: Please –

SCARBOROUGH: If we do those four steps –

STEELE: Spare me.

SCARBOROUGH: Spare you? Give me a CBO estimate of that then!

As the interview continued, Scarborough repeated his question over and over again. “Michael, listen to me, I’m going to ask it again,” he pressed. When Steele tried to dodge, Scarborough pressed: “Ok, I’m obviously not being clear.” Steele, trying to diffuse the situation, said, “I’m with you Joe. We may sound like we’re on opposite sides here, but I’m agreeing with you.” Watch it:

Scarborough is right to put his finger on exploding costs as one of the major problems about our current system that needs to be addressed. And he’s also right that Steele’s “plan” doesn’t deliver a solution. Looking at each of Steele’s four points:

1) Portability is a key feature of Obama’s health care plan. Anyone who enters into the new national health insurance exchange would be able to purchase insurance that stays with them, even if they switch jobs.

2) Steele says he’s for co-ops, by which he presumably means “association health plans.” AHPs wouldn’t help cover the uninsured, but would increase the costs of coverage and would allow selected small businesses to operate outside state regulations.

3) Steele’s tax proposal would mean that young and healthy workers would opt out of employer plans for cheaper coverage, meaning employers could no longer meet participation requirements to purchase insurance. The whole insurance system would slowly unravel, leaving even more people without care.

4) Steele’s proposal of tort reform addresses only 0.46 percent of total health care expenditures.

Since he concedes he doesn’t do policy, Steele shouldn’t show up on MSNBC and pretend like he can.