As I noted in my response to the governor's debate, it is refreshing to hear a Republican candidate espouse the values of a public program for the poor and middle class. Although Scott Walker's kind words for BadgerCare on Friday night did not fully express the important role the program plays in the lives of tens of thousands of Wisconsinites, they at least indicated that Republicans perceive the importance of appearing to care about the uninsured in Wisconsin.
But here's the question: If Scott Walker supports BadgerCare, what does he have against its federal cousin? How is one program that provides low-income families access to private health insurance different from a larger version? One would assume that any real objection would come from the real differences the individual mandate and the bans on discrimination based on pre-existing conditions that the federal bill includes.
Yet we never hear a peep from Republicans about the politically popular ban on pre-existing conditions. And although the GOP sees the individual mandate as the best excuse for a court challenge, its rhetoric generally steers clear of it, perhaps because to confront it requires acknowledging the millions of Americans who lack health insurance.
What Republicans generally do most is refer to health care reform vaguely as a "takeover" or "nationalization" of health care. Tommy Thompson, the architect of BadgerCare and a former supporter of individual mandates, called the realization of his ideas "socialized medicine" after it materialized under a Democratic president. Republicans in Wisconsin react similarly to rather tame health care initiatives, such as BadgerCare Plus Basic, which allows adults to get basic coverage for a monthly premium.
It would be nice if the candidate favored to be the next governor of Wisconsin distanced himself from the anti-health care misinformation that has become a cornerstone of his party's efforts to win back control of state and federal government.
Unfortunately, there is little reason to believe that is not wishful thinking. I may not agree with Sconz commenter Laurence Meade that Sarah Palin is the most powerful politician in America (30 percent approval rating only gets you so far), but sadly, I do concur that Mrs. Death Panels is the most influential member of the Party of Lincoln (sobering contrast intended).