Don’t let Congressman’s rude shout-out distract from issues that need full debate


Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) was clearly out of line in yelling “You lie!” at President Obama , interrupting  the President’s televised speech to the joint Houses of Congress last night. There is no place for such rude and disrespectful behavior in a formal gathering of the nation’s leaders. Wilson was right to quickly apologize, saying he was caught up in the emotion of the moment.

Republican leaders should follow up on the controversy by respectfully pressing the President on the issue that sparked Wilson’s shout-out. Addressing his critic’s charges, Obama clearly stated in his speech that health care benefits would not be extended to illegal aliens. And he has adjusted the numbers of uninsured he references to exclude aliens.

The President is not lying, Joe. But perhaps he also isn’t giving up so easily on his conviction to extend health care insurance to everyone living in this country.

Could it be that Democrats plan to move forward sometime in the next three years to grant amnesty to “undocumented aliens” in the U.S., granting them full citizenship? They would then qualify for “free” health care, like other low-income citizens, that would be available when reforms take effect in 2012. (Of course, they would also gain the right to vote and would almost certainly vote overwhelmingly Democrat, grateful to their benefactors. That prospect has to have Republicans worried.)

The direct costs for these 12 million or so additional recipients of “free” health care have not been calculated into official projections, let alone the indirect costs associated with a supply-demand curve thrown out of equilibrium by the sudden surge on the demand side.

Proponents of amnesty understand that the time is not right to push forward openly, preferring to wait until:  1)  a preliminary health care reform law is in place; 2) the economic cycle has moved well into recovery, including lower unemployment, so mainstream America will be far less anxious about any perceived threats to their job security; 3) the Tea Party/Town Hall anger has run its course.

But an open and far-sighted debate is exactly what is needed.

Clearly the issues at stake are complex and need to be thought through carefully. The U.S. needs to reign in exploding health care costs. And the country should act to extend coverage to citizens who cannot presently afford health care insurance. And America needs to find a fair, compassionate and pragmatic solution to address the millions of illegal aliens living here. 


  1. Emily Drake says:

    Well said, Jon. Focus is critical here. As with all 15 minutes, this will die down but I hate for the momentum of last night’s speech to be drowned in coverage of Wilson’s blurt.

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