GOP’s New Attack on Health Care Reform Bill: It Promotes Walking!

Despite a growing awareness among conservatives that walking and biking are causes worth backing, Republicans on Capitol Hill continue to condemn bike-ped programs as wasteful "pork". The GOP’s latest potshots at sustainable transportation come during debate over a health care bill that focuses mainly on insurance and hospitals, but also includes a public health grant program aimed at encouraging exercise.

070904_mcconnell_hmed11a.hmedium.jpgSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) doesn’t think walking has much to do with public health. Photo: MSNBC

Sen. Mike Enzi (WY), senior Republican on the health committee, slammed the legislation for seeking to "pave sidewalks, build jungle gyms" and expand bike access to help improve public health:

We need to root out the waste, fraud and abuse
that is driving up health care costs — not create a whole slew of new
wasteful programs.

It’s unclear whether Enzi knows that the federal government already has a program to encourage biking and walking, nor whether he’s aware of their demonstrated public health benefits. But his talking point is already migrating to other Republicans, who have twisted the health care bill’s proposed "community transformation" grants into a big-government bogeyman.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) picked up Enzi’s baton today in a speech against the health bill:

[E]arly
indications are that it will direct billions of dollars to things like having
the government build sidewalks and government-subsidized farmers markets.

The
idea here is to use tax dollars to encourage healthier lifestyles. But at a
time when Americans are buried under medical bills and frightened about losing
the coverage they have, farmers markets and sidewalks aren’t the reforms
they have in mind.

  • Your best headline ever.

  • Either they are hopelessly ignorant of the issues plaguing this nations public health or (and more likely) they are betting on this nations ignorance of the issues plaguing this nations public health to use these points as a wedge to separate themselves from the Democrats to garner support for reelection.

  • anonymous

    Par for the course

  • Hmm. So the Republicans on Capitol Hill think it’s okay to use tax dollars to promote unhealthy lifestyles through massive road, oil, and agribusiness subsidies so Americans can enjoy oil wars in the Middle East, environmental damage, obesity, and diabetes. But it’s not okay to use tax dollars to promote healthy lifestyles through subsidizing sidewalks and farmers markets so Americans can enjoy more exercise, nutritious food, and a cleaner environment? And because they’re concerned that such subsidies will prevent greater access to health care?

    I somehow doubt that a political party that has been in charge for decades and has fought tooth and nail against meaningful healthcare reform every time it’s come up for discussion is truly concerned about helping Americans who “are buried under medical bills and frightened about losing the coverage they have.”

  • Urbanis, perhaps these politicians intend that Americans get their exercise and nutritious diets while deployed to wars overseas. It happened to me.

  • Good headline. This is absurd. Don’t they understand the cost benefits of prevention?

    Unhealthy places drive up health care costs far more than any other factor.

  • They don’t care about anything but tearing down Obama, no matter how ridiculous they sound. Epic relevance FAIL.

  • eLK

    It seems that the writers from The Onion are writing for the RNC now. I guess money is tight all around.

  • If I were a conservative, I’d be really upset with these fools. There is no coherent conservative philosophy which won’t require the government to spend money on such basic pieces of infrastructure as sidewalks. And really, how can they stand against markets for small farmers? They are far more interested in jealously guarding their ideal of normality–white, straight, Christian, exurban, SUV driving, ill-educated blue collar men. Eat the wrong condiment or take the wrong way to work and they’ll denounce you as unAmerican.

    But, of course, I’m not a conservative, and they are for the moment hopelessly irrelevant, so I can just laugh at their unintentional comedy.

  • If I were a conservative, I’d be really upset with these fool

  • Braddy

    This reminds me of Rush Limbaugh’s recent moronic rant that sports injuries are the real cause of unaffordable health care. Not that I listen to that obese bast***, it was covered on CNN.

  • Just looking at the flabby glassy-eyed Mitch McConnell, it’s obvious that HE never walks anywhere. Probably takes a limo from one side of the street to the other. He and his fellow travelers have brain rot from breathing their own gaseous emissions.

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