Mark Steyn uses misogyny, rumors, and xenophobia to smear Senator Clinton

Foaming at the mouth wing-nut Mark Steyn heads his newest column Bend over for Nurse Hillary (Saturday, September 22, 2007 syndicated to the Orange County Register) and includes this bit of irony in referring to Senator Clinton’s health-care proposal, “That’s a major surrender of freedom from the citizen to the state.” Steyn doesn’t offer a rebuttal to Clinton’s plan as much as take off on a flight of misogynistic rage. The title of the article itself is some unhinged venom meant to conjure up a mental image in right-wing readers that exploits their fear of intellectually gifted women , homosexuals and the any kind of social safety net. There are a multitudes of hypocrisies in Steyn’s screed. One, he glosses over the elephant in the room, the gargantuan government that Bush and conservatives built over the last six years. Taking freedom from the people and giving them to a authoritarian state? One supposes that Mark only remembers habeas corpus as some quaint old constitutional bedrock that had outlived its usefulness. Or Bush turning Medicare into a welfare program for drug companies. Or maybe Steyn didn’t hear about the House of Bush using the Department of Justice as part of a vote caging scheme for the RNC. Then there were those presidential signing statements with Bush acting on the bizarre premise that the executive branch is not bound by laws passed by Congress.
Who does Steyn identify as the uninsured?

Where are we now? 27 million? So who are they? Bud and Mabel and a vast mountain of emaciated husks of twisted limbs and shriveled skin covered in boils and pustules? No, it’s a rotating population: People who had health insurance but changed jobs, people who are between jobs, young guys who feel they’re fit and healthy and at this stage of their lives would rather put a monthly health-insurance tab towards buying a home or starting a business or blowing it on booze ‘n’ chicks.
That last category is the one to watch: Americans 18-34 account for 18 million of the army of the “uninsured.” Look, there’s a 22-year-old, and he doesn’t have health insurance! Oh, the horror and the shame! What an indictment of America!
Well, he doesn’t have life insurance, either, or homeowner’s insurance. He lives a life blessedly free of the tedious bet-hedging paperwork of middle age. He’s 22, and he thinks he’s immortal – and any day now Hillary will propose garnishing his wages for her new affordable mandatory life-insurance plan. ( Note: Steyn gives us a clue about his depth of research when he states Well, he doesn’t have life insurance, either, or home owner’s insurance – it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to get a mortgage without homeowners insurance. If you don’t buy it on your own your lender will force place insurance on your home, create an escrow account and make you pay for it with your monthly payments. Oh and they have to do that because of those dreaded government regulations)

Give Steyn and most right-wingers some statistics and its like giving a baby a steak to chew on. It’s not that complicated, Mark could have downloaded them himself and spared us the misogynist attacks against the Senator from New York and the straw man that would rather blow his money on booze ‘n’ chicks then have health insurance. From the Kaiser Family Foundation (pdf at link),

How Many are Uninsured? Depending on the reference period respondents are asked to recall, national survey estimates of the uninsured have ranged as widely as 20 to 80 million. At one end, different surveys report 20 and 35 million being uninsured over the course of a full year, while as many as 80 to 85 million have been uninsured for at least part of a two year period. However, when comparisons are drawn using the same reference period in the NHIS, MEPS, and CPS (assuming it is a point-in-time estimate), the differences in the number of the uninsured are relatively small. For example, in 2003 the total number of nonelderly uninsured at any “point-in-time” in the year ranged from 41.1 million to 46.0 million, depending on which of these three surveys is used. The percent of all the nonelderly who were uninsured ranged from 16.3% to 18.3% (Figure 1).

Across all three surveys, more than half of the nonelderly uninsured come from low-income families, ranging from 52% to 59% of the uninsured across the surveys (Figure 3). Those with low incomes (less than 200% of the poverty level; or $37,620 for a family of four in 2003) are less likely to have jobs that offer employer-sponsored coverage and are also less likely to be able to afford their share of the premium. Roughly a third of the nonelderly population comes from low-income families, but they are disproportionately represented among the uninsured because their chances of being uninsured are over three times greater than those with higher incomes.

Steyn does loves the unsupported assertion, the unhinged tirade. It is his assertion that people are walking around without health insurance because they want to. Is that information that was beamed into his head from the mother ship. We don’t know. He doesn’t supply any data to back up that claim. “So who are they? Bud and Mabel and a vast mountain of emaciated husks of twisted limbs and shriveled skin covered in boils and pustules?” writes Steyn. In the real world the way it works is on Tuesday you’re not an “emaciated husks of twisted limbs and shriveled skin covered in boils and pustules”, you feel pretty good, but on Wednesday you have severe chest pains and since you don’t have health insurance you go to the emergency room. They take an x-ray and find a cyst on your heart or a tumor on your lung. Here on planet earth that’s what insurance is for. If you don’t have insurance you tend not to go to the doctor and things like tumors are not caught early. Gaps in Health Insurance: An All-American Problem

while lack of insurance continues to be highest among families with incomes under $20,000, uninsured rates for moderate- and middle-income earners and their families are rising, putting their health and financial security at risk. The survey finds that most of these individuals reside in working families: Of the estimated 48 million American adults who spent any time uninsured in the past year, 67 percent were in families where at least one person was working full time.

[ ]…Most people who are uninsured are in working families. Of the estimated 48 million American adults who had any time uninsured in the past year, 67 percent were in families where at least one person was working full time.

[ ]… One-fifth (21%) of working-age adults, both insured and uninsured, currently have medical debt they are paying off over time and more than two of five (44%) of these individuals are carrying $2,000 or more in debt.
More than one-third (34%) of adults ages 19 to 64 either had medical bill problems in the past year or were paying off accrued medical debt. Problems include not being able to pay bills, being contacted by a collection agency about unpaid medical bills, or having to change way of life to pay bills.
Three of five (62%) of all adults with medical bills or debt problems said they or their family member were insured at the time the debt was incurred.
More than half (51%) of uninsured adults reported medical debt or bill problems. Of those, nearly half (49%) used up all their savings to pay their bills. Two of five were unable to pay for basic necessities like food, heat, or rent because of medical bills.

One of Steyn’s basic premises fails to hold up under even the most cursory examination. The uninsured in America are not lazy scofflaws, the perennially unemployed, or irresponsible scoundrels longing to drain the nation’s coffers. They’re your friends and neighbors, the working class – the people that clean your floors, serve your food, pour the concrete for your new side walk and ring up your purchase at the check-out.

Steyn never explains how if Clinton’s health-care proposals are such an affront to the capitalistic health-care industry why she is getting so much backing from health-care professionals. Many Americans companies are feeling the strain of providing health care insurance. In some cases it makes them less competitive then companies or U.S. owned facilities in other countries. For example large American companies like GM and Ford have been a little two faced about their health-care position. Seeking more government/private sector cooperation in providing health benefits in America while simultaneously backing single payer insurance in Canada. GMs Healthcare Double Standard

What a difference a border makes. General Motors executives say soaring health costs in their U.S. plants are forcing them to seek health benefits give-backs from unionized workers, yet they insist national healthcare is not an appropriate solution for America. As company spokeswoman Sherri Woodruff puts it, “GM thinks there has to be closer cooperation between the government and the private sector, but we don’t advocate a single-payer system for the U.S.”

Yet just across the Detroit River in Ontario, the company’s subsidiary—like the subsidiaries of Ford, DaimlerChrysler and other U.S. firms————strongly endorses Canada’s national health system.

“The Canadian plan has been a significant advantage for investing in Canada,” says GM Canada spokesman David Patterson…

Then there is Steyn’s exploitation of xenophobia – “It’s perfectly fine to employ legions of the undocumented from Mexico, but if you employ a fit 26-year-old American with no health insurance either you or he or both of you will be breaking the law?.” Illegal aliens would be getting free health-care at taxpayer expense? There is no proof that the Senator’s plan would have any such effect, but that doesn’t stop him from implying that it would. This is a little hot issue button that he pushes for the sake of the paranoid xenophobes that constitute his worshiping admirers. Steyn wouldn’t want to deal with that as a separate issue, that would be intellectually honest and honest arguments are something that Steyn avoids at all costs.

Some other rumor busting, NY Post claimed Thompson said Clinton health-care plan “would require Americans to provide proof of insurance in order to get a job”

The following day, as Media Matters also noted, a New York Post article contradicted itself on the issue of Clinton’s health-care plan. The September 19 article bore the headline “Hill Care-ried Away: Employees Must Prove Insurance” and reported that Clinton said “everyone eventually would have to prove they have health insurance when they apply for a job.” But in the next sentence, Post correspondent Geoff Earle quoted Clinton saying that “she could envision a day when ‘you have to show proof to your employer that you’re insured as a part of the job interview,’ ” [emphasis added], not that workers will “have to prove they have health insurance.”

Steyn also echoes the same erroneous mime in his screed, “And, if you don’t, it will be illegal for you to hold a job.”

updated 9-25-07