Why do Republicans oppose health care reform?

Surely it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the racial composition of the uninsured. Of course not.

CNN has discovered the health insurance disaster in some of the reddest states in the country.  Fully one quarter of Texans lack health insurnace, and 18% of its children.  Louisiana is close behind.  in fact, if you look at the CNN map of the states with the highest rates of uninsured people, it seems like a map of much of the Old Confederacy: Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama.  Yet all of their Republican Senators oppose health care reform.  How could that be?

It mystifies me completely.  Of course, just because the majority of the uninsured are Black or Brown is completely irrelevant to the situation, so I’m really glad that CNN never mentioned it.  It really is one of those things that might be forever unknown.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

26 thoughts on “Why do Republicans oppose health care reform?”

  1. It never ceases to amaze me at the power of disinformation. Not that I fully accept the MVT, but I do not think these Republican members are far out of touch with their district's median voters. Of course, median voter does not equal median resident. But I've always thought that MVT failed to account for the ability of politicians and other actors to move the median away from its true position.

  2. Jonathan, this just isn't true. The majority of the uninsured are in fact white, just like the majority of poor people are white. Why don't you look things up rather than make things up?

    The argument you build off of your mistake isn't any better, as one would expect. Compare New Mexico with Texas and you'll see that the story isn't about the Old Confederacy or the evil Republicans (unless of course you want to make up new facts about New Mexico and Bill Richardson). New Mexico is less than 3% black, has had a Democratic governor for six years, and … nearly one quarter of New Mexicans lack health insurance. How could that be? Well, if you ignore poverty rates and immigration effects, you'll be left just making stuff up like Jonathan.

  3. Republican policy positions are not about outcomes;

    Republican voters don't hold Republican politicians responsible for outcomes.

    Republican policies, and the motivations of Republican voters,

    are about expressing the Correct sentiments,

    and about not giving the appearance of condoning the Wrong sentiments.

  4. The Crescent of Dumb that stretches SE from Oklahoma through Northern FLa on up to southern Va have the highest divorce rates, school dropouts, stdS, obesity, drunks, it goes on and on. Rabble for Republican mechanics.

  5. "Republican policy positions are not about outcomes;

    Republican voters don’t hold Republican politicians responsible for outcomes."

    Well, yeah, kinda. Democrats tend overwhelmingly to be utilitarians, to the extent they have a formal moral philosophy. IOW, they not only think "The end justifies the means.", they wonder what else possibly could. (Of course, this means they're moral idiots; Utilitarianism has huge conceptual problems, and is impossible to implement in practice.)

    Republicans tend more to teleological theories of morality, where acts have moral valance quite apart from their effects in any given instance. So, for instance, it can be seen as wrong to take a person's money away for another person's benefit, regardless of the fact that they have a lot of money, and the other person would really benefit. Mind you, they're not very consistent teleologists. And it's just a tendency.

    But, yeah, Joel's observation, however hostile the way it's formulated, is essentially correct.

  6. Nice one, Thomas. Did you learn the 'look things up for yourself' line from Glenn Beck? You know, I actually did look things up. Tell me, in what imaginary mathematics does 16M poor white out of 36M poor total constitute a "majority"? But of course, if you set out to bash them libruls, then facts can hardly get in the way, right?

  7. Without getting into the issue of skin color, I believe that there is some county level data showing that the uninsured live in districts that vote disproportionately Democratic, notwithstanding that the state as a whole may be red. This is quite likely the case for Texas. Thus, regardless of skin tone of affected voters, the state's Republican delegation — both in the House and the Senate — are likely voting the perceived preferences of those who vote for them. That's not surprising. It almost totally explains the vote of Joseph Cao, and it also explains why the senators from Maine are such outliers in the Republican delegation. The task is to find R congressional districts with high levels of uninsurance and ask those particular reps exactly why they dislike reform measures — I think Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio would be good places to start.

  8. Justin: "But I’ve always thought that MVT failed to account for the ability of politicians and other actors to move the median away from its true position."

    Where the majority of 'other actors' are 'rich interests with large campaign contributions', and most of the rest are corrupt priests and infotainment propagandists (i.e., servants of the rich interests).

  9. Just so that we get our facts straight. As examples:

    in Texas, there are 5.9 million uninsured, 4.2 million of which are Black or Latino. http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?rg

    In Louisiana, there are 402,000 Black or Brown uninsured, and 373,000 white uninsured. http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?su

    In New Mexico, 311,000 out of 446,000 uninsured are either Latino or "Other," most likely Indian. http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?rg… But in New Mexico, their two Democratic Senators strongly support reform.

    Just clap louder, Thomas.

  10. That is great Thomas, except New Mexico has the largest population of Mexican people, as a percentage of population, of all the states. Last I checked, they counted as brown people for the purposes of discrimination. Perhaps you should take your own advice?

  11. MVT=? Motor Vehicle Theft? Median Voter Turnout? Maximum Velocity Transition? Minnesota Valley Trust?

    Can anyone help?

  12. MVT = median voter theory. Basically that elected official hold the sentiments or vote to represent the will of the median voter and not the outlier. Hence the accusation by many that US political parties are centrist. That would be a reflection of the demographics they represent, and why you see more moderates among those elected to offices with higher thresholds or district sizes.

  13. Nice one, Thomas. Did you learn the ‘look things up for yourself’ line from Glenn Beck? You know, I actually did look things up. Tell me, in what imaginary mathematics does 16M poor white out of 36M poor total constitute a “majority”? But of course, if you set out to bash them libruls, then facts can hardly get in the way, right?

  14. Back when they were slaves, Massa provided Health Insurance. Then you had to go and emancipate them all. So, kwitcherbitchin, as Ann Landers used to say.

  15. And all this time I was reading "MVT" as "multivariate testing", which works OK-ish in the context of this discussion but seemed a bit esoteric.

    Hello, other Finn @ 7:50AM. You even posted what I was thinking, so I guess I'm entirely unnecessary.

  16. Ivan, the Census publishes the statistics every year, and the most recent publication, for 2008, says that there are 39 million people in poverty (that is, living in households or families with incomes under the poverty threshhold as determined by the Census), and of those 39 million, nearly 27 million are white. You can retreat to Finn's position, which is that people who describe themselves as both white and Hispanic are mistaken, but I didn't take you to be some sort of racist like Finn.

  17. Brett, Democrats who're influenced by Rawls (or Hillel Steiner or a long list of others), who rest on justice & rights, aren't utilitarians, as you'll know. Arguably the most highly elaborated ideological current among Republicans comes from freshwater economics, & is essentially consequentialist, including in its construal of rights. (As a hardshell libertarian, you'll be more familiar than I am w/ the complaints among your brethren about Chicago-school consequentialism.) There's an empirical research literature on the moral psychology of untutored folk, & I wouldn't say it shows that Democrats are moral idiots. The line between defenders & opponents of, e.g., the progressive income tax, is not a line between believers in utilitarian & deontological (or teleological) moral theories.

  18. Thomas,

    "Black and brown" people has as much to do with where you are from and who your parents were/are as it does skin color (or what your last name is). Is this bizzaro day where we get to pretend that the US isn't racist and that anyone who claims otherwise is, himself/herself, racist? Your understanding of my point was as nuanced and your understanding of the problem at large!

  19. Finn, I'm glad you know better whether someone is white or not than the poor Hispanic respondents to the Census. Presumably they haven't had the advantages you've had, and aren't sophisticated enough to know that, though they think they're white, they're actually "black or brown". But you shouldn't argue with me about it–go explain yourself to them. And after you do that, come back and we can talk health care. Hopefully you'll have learned something about it in the interim.

  20. Ok, Thomas, random epithet throwing aside, is yours some sort of a technicality argument, ie "it's not racial, it's ethnic discrimination" – which is about as silly as claiming that something is not sexual discrimination, just levels-of-estrogen discrimination – or are you saying that southerners just don't like poor people?

    In any case, I don't think MVT reaches far enough for this effect.. This looks more like Federalist No. 10 territory

  21. Ivan, this isn't hard. It isn't a story about discrimination–Bill Richardson doesn't secretly hate "Black and Brown" people. It is about poverty though, but, again, not the way you think it is. Southerners are poor people. The south is poorer than the north, and has been forever, and generally speaking the west is poorer than the northeast and midwest. What's so hard about this? Poorer people everywhere are less likely to be insured, and so poorer areas are more likely to have larger percentages of uninsured people. And immigration, especially illegal immigration, further increases the number of uninsured, so areas with high numbers of immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, have a higher percentage of uninsured people. New Mexico in this respect is a lot like Texas, and so New Mexico looks a lot like Texas. And the fact that it's run by Democrats and doesn't have blacks and wasn't part of the Confederacy don't mean anything at all. Which, again, is my point.

  22. Thomas, thank you for taking the time to explain your points.

    I would most certainly not want to blanket brand, and I think OP would agree, all health care reform opposition as racism. That would be incredibly counter-productive.

    Original post was that Republican senators from ex-Confederacy states oppose a bill which would insure millions of their constituents, who happen to be from some minorities. You disagree and bring up New Mexico as just as mismanaged. Let's leave aside questions about what this is refuting, seeing as to how NM senators seem to *support* health care reform, or even whether a state with population 55M. I would argue that accusing OP of making stuff up and afterward calling other commenters racist is probably not the best way to get your point across; in fact it comes pretty close to trolling in my books…

  23. wordpress comments.. blech.. the statement reads "even whether a state with population <2M is sufficient data to change inferences about 5 others with pop >55M."

  24. Thomas,

    I don't care what their skin color is or what box they have checked on a census (or that Hispanic is considered white in most of the US). The fact is that having a last name like Juarez and being Catholic is enough to be discriminated against. I'm not sure where you are getting this from anyhow, 45% of NM residents claim they are of Hispanic origin. You can spout on and on about how they are really white, but they GOP doesn't treat them that way and nor do most other people. Continuing to argue a narrow interpretation of race in this country based on consensus grouping is childish, by your metric we can eliminate race problems in the US by asking everyone to check the 'white' box on census forms!

    Ohh and Hi Finn!

  25. Ivan, I didn't say that New Mexico was mismanaged, I said it was poor and had lots of immigrants, including lots of illegal immigrants. The proposed legislation wouldn't change those things. In fact, the proposed legislation, because it wouldn't provide insurance to illegal immigrants, likely would the relative statitics worse for Texas and New Mexico. As for what New Mexico shows: it shows that Jonathan is wrong. If you get the diagnosis wrong you're not likely to stumble on to the solution.

    Finn, I'm sure that having a last name like Juarez is enough to lead to discrimination in some cases, and certainly in combination with other attributes it likely leads to a more difficult life than most whites have. I'm not sure that "Catholic" adds much of anything–I don't think a Juarez who is an evangelical is going to have a significantly different experience. In any case, it's not me who is saying that most Hispanics are white, it's most Hispanics who say it. As I said, take up your argument with them.

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