The Grayson Factor


I think Alan Grayson has taken some stands on important substantive issues of public policy—mostly related to so-called “bailouts” and the Federal Reserve—that are incorrect on the merits. But personally I welcome at least a bit of his tone and his approach in congress, especially on the issues where I agree with him on the merits. But as I’ve said before, the political/media establishment can’t quite seem to get their heads around the idea of a progressive using stark, moralistic language rather than bloodless technocratic language:

First it was his comment, “If you get sick, America, the Republicans’ health care plan is this: Die quickly.” Then, appearing on MSNBC, he said of former Vice President Dick Cheney: “I have trouble listening to what he says sometimes because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he’s talking.” Finally, a radio interview surfaced in which he had called a female adviser to the Federal Reserve chairman “a K Street whore” — a reference to her former job as a Washington lobbyist. That one forced him to make a formal apology.

Mr. Grayson could be the latest incarnation of what in the American political idiom is known as a wing nut — a loud darling of cable television and talk radio whose remarks are outrageous but often serious enough not to be dismissed entirely. Mr. Grayson is the more notable because he hurls his nuts from the left in a winger world long associated with the right.

As I had occasion to note in the previous post, Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, who is also a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, really did outline the plan that if you get sick and don’t have money you should die in an opinion piece for CNN. This is all part of his larger explanation of why “Government should not subsidize health insurance — for the uninsured, the poor, the elderly or anyone else — or regulate health insurance markets.” Most conservatives don’t articulate the right-wing position on health care in quite as rigorous a manner as Miron, but the fact of the matter is that the view that spending is bad, taxes is bad, and regulation is bad is at the very core of contemporary American conservative philosophy. And it leads you to where Miron ends up—to exactly what Grayson said.

Of course Miron puts it gently (“if some people do not purchase insurance and then become ill, they would have to rely on private charity”) and Grayson puts it harshly (“die quickly”) but they’re saying the same thing: The right’s view is that the government should make no special provision to protect people from health-related economic catastrophe or from economically-driven health catastrophe.