Yesterday, Politico published an op-ed, presumably about health care policy, by Governor Bobby Jindal, and today, Jindal worked the Fox News circuit to promote himself and his opinion on health care reform.
Commentators are claiming this as Jindal’s “reemergence” in the national discourse, following his disastrous response to President Obama’s very first speech to a joint session of the United States Congress. Welcome back, Governor.
To be fair, Bobby Jindal is considered by many to be a wonk in health care policy. After serving a brief stint with McKinsey, one of the nation’s top corporate “consulting” firms, Jindal, at the age of 24, wrote a compelling white paper on health care that attracted the attention of gubernatorial candidate Mike Foster, to whom he was first introduced during a summer internship with former Congressman Jim McCrery.
When Foster was elected, he appointed Jindal as Secretary of Health and Hospitals. Improbably, at the age of only 25, Jindal was in charge of 40% of the State’s entire budget, thousands of employees, and numerous hospitals and health care centers. Even for an Ivy League educated Rhodes Scholar, it was a meteoric rise.
Jindal was the “boy genius,” the wunderkind, yet during his tenure as Secretary of DHH, Louisiana’s health care rankings sank. Afterward, Jindal was given a few incredibly important appointments: Governor Foster made him the youngest-ever President of the University of Louisiana system, and President George W. Bush gave him a couple of appointments related to health care policy. Then he ran for Governor of Louisiana at the age of 32, and after losing the Governor’s race, Jindal waged a successful campaign for David Vitter’s old Congressional seat.
All of that said: I don’t know what makes Jindal an “expert” in heath care policy. Although he has a degree in Biology from Brown University, Governor Jindal has, so far, appeared more willing to pay lip service to creationists than to champion established scientific theory. The arguments Governor Jindal makes against the Obama health care agenda are inaccurate and disingenuous. Consider Governor Jindal’s main points:
• Most Americans would end up, over time, with government-run health care.
• The only folks who would be able to stave this off are the wealthy.
• The quality of our health care would diminish.
• Someone other than patients and doctors would make decisions on the treatments and medicines we can have.
• The taxes on the rich, otherwise known as employers, would further damage the economy and potentially drive up unemployment at a time we can least afford it.
First, there is no way of knowing whether or not “most Americans would end up, over time, with government-run health care.” The irony is that Jindal recognizes the ways in which a public option would be more competitive in the market than some private insurance plans. We should be honest: In this country, health care has become a bloated industry in desperate need of intervention and action. If the government is more competitive than the private sector, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the economics of private health care.
Second, if the rich seek to “stave off” a more affordable and competitive alternative health care plan, it is their right. I find it hard to have confidence in a Governor who does not have faith in his government. The argument seems to be a) A public option would be competitive b) This competition would not only attract many of the 47 million Americans currently uninsured; it could also attract people in need of stability, at the expense of entrenched, corporate interests c) Health care is not about human rights; it’s about economics And d) Although our elected officials may be geniuses, the people who work for them are inherently incompetent (primarily because they are the government).
Third, there is absolutely no empirical data to suggest that the “quality of our health care would diminish” because of Obama’s reforms. Cite your sources and studies, Governor.
Fourth (and this really irks me), “someone other than patients and doctors” already makes decisions about treatments and medicines, Governor. The market makes those decisions. For many Americans, our health care is literally tied to the whims and urges of the market. And the market comprehends health care as a profit center, not a human right.
Fifth, the majority of Americans are employed by small businesses, not the “rich.” Small businesses are burdened by health care costs. Reducing those costs by sharing this responsibility, using our taxpayer dollars, will only benefit small businesses. Moreover, the “rich” are not necessarily the “employers,” though they are known to contribute heavily to political campaigns.
Most ironic, Governor Jindal, in the same op-ed piece, lambastes the effectiveness of the stimulus:
Let’s review: the Troubled Asset Relief Program, bailouts for American International Group and others, CEOs of bankrupt businesses that receive billions of tax dollars running off with millions in bonuses, a $ 3.5 trillion budget, a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus that has not stimulated, unemployment continuing to climb, government in the banking business, and of course, the U.S. government now making cars.
Here’s what Governor Jindal did two days ago:
He presented an over-sized stimulus check to Vernon Parish. From Think Progress:
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) reemerged on the national stage yesterday, penning an op-ed in the Politico to slam efforts to reform health care and declaring the Economic Recovery Act a failure. Jindal declared the Recovery Act “a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus that has not stimulated.” However, less than 24 hours before Jindal published his op-ed, Jindal traveled to Anacoco, Louisiana to present a jumbo-sized check to residents of Vernon Parish. The funds included hundreds of thousands of dollars directly from the Recovery Act — at least $157,848 in Community Block Grant money authorized by the Recovery Act and $138,611 for Byrne/JAG job training programs created by the Recovery Act. Rather than credit the federal government or the Recovery Act he opposed, Jindal printed his own name on the corner of the massive check.
It appears as if Jindal is taking credit for a program he actually opposes.