Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that “more people signed up for Medicaid last year than at any time since the program’s inception,” and that 48 million Americans are now enrolled in the federal-state health insurance program designed to serve low-income Americans who otherwise would not be able to afford to get health care.
In an interview posted on YouTube last week, Tom Tancredo — the American Constitution Party candidate for governor who has overtaken GOP candidate Dan Maes in the latest polls — explained one way to reduce enrollment or eliminate participation in the insurance program would be to starve the government of the funds to operate it.
While explaining that he is interested in Colorado’s Proposition 60, which would limit how taxes can be raised in the state and would automatically reduce some taxes, Tancredo says that it’s been his “experience anyway that the only way you actually get government under control is by reducing the flow of dollars.” He argued that the only way to “eliminate” Medicaid and similar programs is when the government is “pressed to the wall financially,” concluding, “I like the idea of doing something that absolutely presses you to the wall”:
TANCREDO: It’s been my experience anyway that the only way you actually get government under control is by reducing the flow of dollars. I’m not an anarchist. There are some things that have to be done by the state, but it is so hard to get the state to look at things that don’t have to be done. I’ll give you an example, there are at least a dozen increases in medical services came about as a result of what the legislature and the people did by passing the cigarette tax [...] I don’t think you can attribute all of the increase in Medicaid recipients to this but a substantial number came about as a result of it. We went from 260,000 people eligible for Medicaid to almost double, 480,000. Now as I say, recession plays a role to that, less jobs [...] but also there are a whole bunch of things we don’t have to do. Now have you ever heard anybody suggest that we can eliminate those? Even though you could, it is not mandated by the federal government. The only way you get to that point is when you are pressed to the wall financially. Will we ever really deal with PERA unless we are pressed to the wall [...] So I like the idea of doing something that absolutely presses you to the wall.
Although Tancredo’s explanation for exactly how he plans to stop the government from helping sick Americans is new, his opposition to any government role in health care is not. During a GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate in 2007, Tancredo admitted that his views are “unique, different and scary to some people,” but he doesn’t believe that the federal government has any role in helping people get health care. He opted instead for boosting “individual responsibility.” When the questioner asked Tancredo about voting against an expansion of children’s health insurance, the former GOP congressman proudly boasted, “You bet I did.”
Tawdry writes, “‘Individual responsibility.’ Another one of those phrases thrown out there that can be interpreted any way anyone pleases. You can bet his definition isn’t individual responsibility toward those in need.”