I Wish I Was A Comedy Writer So I Could Do Justice To The Michele Bachmann Town Hall
It wouldn't surprise me if half the attendees at Michele Bachmann's health care town hall meeting in Lake Elmo had come for the entertainment potential. There isn't a Republican in Congress as delusional-- loudly delusional-- and clueless as Bachmann (R-MN)-- and that includes several who have proven themselves to be borderline insane like Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH), Steve King (R-IA), Paul Broun (R-GA), Wally Herger (R-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Todd Akin (R-MO), Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Trent Franks (R-AZ) and, of course, Virginia Foxx (R-NC). But this Bachmann story, like most of them, just writes itself, especially if there's a camera and a mike in the room. Meet one of her fervent supporters, St. Francis City Councilman LeRoy Schaffer:
My favorite part is when the loon in the top hat and tails starts screaming about how Bachmann is "right-- we got the best health care in the world! THE VERY BEST! " The audience ate it up. These are the people who elect deranged officials like Bachmann and Schaffer. They like the way it sounds-- "America has the best health care in the world," regardless of the patent absurdity of the statement for anyone who isn't a multimillionaire.
The U.S. in down at the bottom of the barrel in comparison to other developed countries, when it comes to health care. American consumers spend double what other nations' consumers spend on health care-- almost entirely because of Insurance companies-- and have the worst results of any developed nation. An average American male will live to be around 78. Cool, huh? Well, cool compared to how long your grandpa could have expected to have lived. But not cool compared to the 29 countries' males who will live longer (and pay far, far less for health care). Men in Iceland, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, Israel, Canada, Costa Rica, Sweden and twenty other countries have higher life expectancies than American men. And more American babies die before reaching the age of one than in almost any other developed country.
Republican politicians can continue obstructing health care and making up their own "facts" that rubes desperately choose to believe, but that won't make any of the nonsense true and it won't change the dismal state of American health care delivery for ordinary U.S. working families. A public option will do that, but
I’ll be danged if I am going to give up my Social Security because of socialism, and I'll be danged if I am going to give up my Medicare because of socialism!
How do you even deal with the kind of mind that works this way? I guess we just need to keep reminding them what Republicans have always said about Social Security and Medicare, two progressive programs they opposed as strenuously as they are now opposing health care reform. Or remind them that conservatives opposed freeing the slaves, allowing women to vote, regulating safety conditions in mines and food plants and opposed free public education, labor unions, the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. Ronald Reagan shilling against Medicare in 1964:
"Write those letters now; call your friends and them to write them. If you don't, this program I promise you, will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, and behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country... And if you don't do this and if I don't do it, one of these days we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free."
Wait, maybe all these drooling idiots at Bachmann's health care forum, in their white flight suburbs don't need any help with medical reform. Maybe everything really is great in Minnesota's 6th CD. After all, the median income is the third highest of Minnesota's eight congressional districts-- $56,862 (compared to $47,111 statewide). It's not like Florida and Nevada, where everybody is losing their homes. In Bachmann's district only 5,853 homes have been foreclosed on and they're only expecting 19,487 foreclosures in the next 4 years, only the third worst in the state. And Bachmann certainly voted against forcing the banksters to stop acting so predatory and re-negotiate with borrowers. As for health care... well, it turns out a report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee shows that the folks in MN-06 actually do have a lot of lose if the reform bill Bachmann (and the kook in the top hat) oppose so violently fails, especially seniors and small businesspeople.
America’s Affordable Health Choices Act would provide significant benefits in the 6th Congressional District of Minnesota: up to 16,100 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees; 9,900 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D; 1,400 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $64 million in uncompensated care each year; and 29,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance. Congressswoman Michele Bachmann represents the district.
• Help for small businesses. Under the legislation, small businesses with 25 employees or less and average wages of less than $40,000 qualify for tax credits of up to 50% of the costs of providing health insurance. There are up to 16,100 small businesses in the district that could qualify for these credits.
• Help for seniors with drug costs in the Part D donut hole. Each year, 9,900 seniors in the district hit the donut hole and are forced to pay their full drug costs, despite having Part D drug coverage. The legislation would provide them with immediate relief, cutting brand name drug costs in the donut hole by 50%, and ultimately eliminate the donut hole.
• Health care and financial security. There were 1,400 health care-related bankruptcies in the district in 2008, caused primarily by the health care costs not covered by insurance. The bill provides health insurance for almost every American and caps annual out-of-pocket costs at $10,000 per year, ensuring that no citizen will have to face financial ruin because of high health care costs.
• Relieving the burden of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers. In 2008, health care providers in the district provided $64 million worth of uncompensated care, care that was provided to individuals who lacked insurance coverage and were unable to pay their bills. Under the legislation, these costs of uncompensated care would be virtually eliminated.
• Coverage of the uninsured. There are 51,000 uninsured individuals in the district, 7% of the district. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that nationwide, 97% of all Americans will have insurance coverage when the bill takes effect. If this benchmark is reached in the district, 29,000 people who currently do not have health insurance will receive coverage.
• No deficit spending. The cost of health care reform under the legislation is fully paid for: half through making the Medicare and Medicaid program more efficient and half through a surtax on the income of the wealthiest individuals. This surtax would affect only 3,790 households in the district. The surtax would not affect 98.9% of taxpayers in the district.
UPDATE: Councilman LeRoy Schaffer-- Much Crazier Than You Probably Imagined
After watching the video a few times, I started wondering if it was legit. Is it possible that "Schaffer" was just an actor making a mockery of Bachmann and the teabagger ethos? I mean could anyone really be that stupid? So I did a little research and found out that the City Councilman was able to show just a small fraction of his immense store of ignorance and jaw dropping bigotry. Forget for a moment that the top hatted lunatic was censured by his colleagues on the St Francis City Council for "harassing and improper behavior," telling a young woman, who was clearly not interested, about his sexual practices. You see, he's actually best known for his crusade against allegedly Spanish-speaking roofers. Last summer the City Pages reported on Schaffer in a story called If Lou Dobbs Was A City Councilman.
Last week, residents called for Schaffer's resignation after he shouted at a KSTP broadcaster, went on a tirade about immigration reform, and made what some say were racist comments on TV.
"He behaved like a maniac," says resident Melissa Jabas, who called for the councilman's ouster at the meeting. "If you watch the clip, he's got, like, spit on his lip," she added. "He was just yelling and screaming."
KSTP showed up at Schaffer's home after he filed a report with the local police that "illegal aliens" were working on a neighbor's roof. He knew they were "illegal" because they "didn't speak English."
According to the report, Schaffer continues: "They probably crossed the Rio Grande...and I don't blame them. I would swim as fast as I could, too."
Defending himself on camera, Schaffer tried to make a point about the nation's current immigration crisis, but ended up digging himself into an even deeper hole.
"I'm tired of looking the other way, sir," he shouted into the camera. "I'm tired of Mr. and Mrs. America looking the other way."
This is not the first time Schaffer's loose lips have gotten him into trouble. Last December, the council censored him for making inappropriate sexual remarks to a woman during a city event. (Maybe he did learn his lesson, because he didn't return our call for comment.)
And you wonder how Michele Bachmann gets elected in blue, blue Minnesota?