Joe Wilson Exposes Democrat-Driven Healthcare Process in "Teachable Moment"
Though he was blunt and might have chosen his words or venue a little differently, Joe Wilson has exposed the inner workings of the democrat-led healthcare legislation tactics. And while an outburst of "you lie!" from a congressman may be inappropriate during a presidential address, one cannot help but notice that democratic legislators have developed a sudden interest in specific issues with their healthcare legislation that they had swept aside earlier when Joe Wilson and other Republicans attempted to participate in the leglislative process on matters like verification of legal status. According to this Associated Press article released two days after Wilson's outburst:
The issue is one of several thorny problems that came up as a small group of negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee met Friday morning. Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., is aiming to finalize legislation on Obama's health overhaul by next week — though whether it's bipartisan or not remains to be seen. Members of the group said they thought they'd settled the question of illegal immigration, but it came to the fore this week when Republican Rep. Joe Wilson shouted "You lie" at Obama during his speech Wednesday. Obama had said illegal immigrants wouldn't be covered under his health plan. Senators said that's forced the committee to work on provisions verifying legal status before an individual can get coverage.
The negotiators put off extensive discussion of the illegal immigration issue until Monday and said aides would be working on language on that and abortion over the weekend.
When would these issues ever have been discussed if Joe Wilson hadn't cried out to create the "teachable moment" during Wednesday night's presidential address?
In this CBS News Blog article, journalist and columnist Declan McCullagh takes us past the issue of whether Joe Wilson was rude or not and takes a look at the facts. The article analyzes recent statements made by Obama, points out the size and complexity of the bill, enumerates various arguments and makes this point:
Pointing out only to H.R. 3200's section 246 -- which groups such as Factcheck.org have done -- is a bit misleading.
These issues are complex and need to be fixed but not over-simplified. However, the "teachable moment" here is the view of the partisan process behind healthcare reform. Declan lists Republicans who have attempted to participate in shaping the healthcare bill only to be repeatedly rejected by democrats including Rep. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, Rep. Nathan Deal of R-Georgia and of course Rep. Joe Wilson R-South Carolina, and illustrates the "teachable moment":
This brings us back to Obama's speech last night. It's true that the Democrats haven't explicitly called for illegal immigrants to be covered by H.R. 3200, but by voting down two amendments that would have verified participants' legal status, they seem to have implicitly allowed it. It's no crime in Washington to say one thing and do another, especially when you're under pressure from influential special interest groups, but it should still be a bit embarrassing for politicians discovered to be doing it.
So while Joe Wilson may not have chosen the best way to express it, he did have a point. As the president might have said, the Republican politico's outburst has turned into one of those teachable moments.