March 22, 2010

Kevin Madden wasn't happy with Roland Martin's "ad hominem" attack on the people who are buying into the Republicans claims that the health care bill amounts to Socialism or Communism. I agree with Martin that most of the protesters don't have a clue what Socialism or Communism is. They're taking their talking points from Glenn Beck and the rest of them on Fox and right wing radio. Given the spelling on a lot of the signs at these protests, you can't say that he doesn't have a point there either. Kevin Madden and the Republicans don't have any room to talk about "ad hominem" attacks after the rhetoric we've seen thrown around by them over the last year. They've got the market cornered on them.

Transcript via CNN.

MADDEN: One of the most important things we can do out there is talk to the American people's anxiety about the size and the scope of this bill and how radically it would change 1/6 of our economy without leading -- and you can do that without leaving a lot of these labels that seem to be like, you know, nails on a chalk board aside.

You know every single Republican up on Capitol Hill -- and I want to emphasize this. Every single Republican up on Capitol Hill believes in health care reform. The difference is in the fundamentals.

Republicans believe that we can incentivize the states to start pile the programs. They're the laboratories of democracy to help get unique health care populations the health care that they need. The access and to help lower the costs.

Democrats believe that we ought to have a one-size-fits-all federalized mandate from Washington that says we know better than the states. That is the fundamental difference. It's not getting into socialism or totalitarianism, but instead that is a fundamental difference.

And I think we're more closely aligned right now with public sentiment when we make that up.

BLITZER: And let me bring Roland Martin in because, Roland, you know, this argument that this is socialized medicine which the Democrats are about to enact into law -- and you heard this congressman from California basically say it's Soviet style socialism.

It -- you know, they don't have a public option. They don't have a single-payer system. It's far from socialism, isn't it?

MARTIN: That's just stuck on stupid. I mean to sit there on the House floor and all of a sudden you're talking about, oh, this is communism and you're sitting here and reaching -- that's just dumb, OK? You know what? If Republicans truly cared about health care, why in the world didn't they do anything for eight years? So don't stand here now when the Democrats have been pushing the issue and now say, oh, no, Republicans -- we really care about health care when you had the opportunity to make changes to our system.

The fact of the matter is, when you have Republicans who want to sit here and throw all these kind of nonsensical names out there, it does nothing but stir up the nutcases who are frankly calling Democrats the kind of names on yesterday.

And so if you want to make an argument that there are core differences, there are no doubt between Democrats and Republicans on this issue. And you know what? You sometimes have to make tough issues -- tough decisions.

And so I just don't believe in these ridiculous names, what's communism and what's socialism. People probably can't even spell communism and socialism, much less identify it.

MADDEN: Well, you know, first of all, I think that's unfortunate that you would make an ad hominem attack like that. I think that there's very important principles --

MARTIN: But that's what he did on the House floor.

MADDEN: But I think what you're doing is making a personal attack and I don't think that helps the decor rum of the debate either. But I think what you have to remember --

MARTIN: OK. Got you. So --

MADDEN: The Republicans have been very -- been very -- we've been very, I think, good at putting forward ideas on health care. If you look at the 2000 elections, 2004 elections, we closed the gap with Democrats on health care because we put forward very progressive ideas, I think, when you look at health savings accounts, when you look at association health plans.

Those are all -- core Republican principles to get more access to bring down costs. So, you know, I would disagree that we haven't been putting out any ideas. I think that the -- the health care forum that the president held down at the White House obliterated the argument that Republicans are the party of no and the Republicans don't have health care ideas.

BLITZER: Let me let Roland respond, but before I do.

Kevin, Medicare, which is very popular for seniors right now. That is much closer to some sort of socialism than what the president and the Democrats are now about to enact into law because that, in effect, is the single-payer system that the government runs.

MADDEN: Well, that's right. And Medicare was designed as a safety net for those who were a specific population of older Americans. I think what happens is when you start to try and expand Medicaid and you start to try and expand Medicare, you see a growing reliance on government versus looking for the private sector and a more free market oriented approach to helping drive down costs.

BLITZER: Roland, go ahead.

MARTIN: Look, Wolf, one of the reasons why I might view this a little bit differently than Kevin, because in 2000, when my appendix ruptured and spent five days in a hospital in Los Angeles, had no health care, almost $100,000 in bills, had to file for bankruptcy, so maybe my whole view in terms of how do you insure the uninsured is a little bit different.

But the point there is, when you are a member of Congress, and when you stand on the floor and you throw out these ridiculous terms like communism, it makes no sense. And, yes, I laugh at these people who go to town hall meetings who say, I don't want government health care but don't you touch my Medicare.

I'm sorry, do you even know what you're talking about? OK? That's what you have here.

You have everybody who wants to protect their own interest. And I'd still go back to it. Republicans may have said, here's a piece here, a piece there. But when you talk about health care reform, they did not do anything in a significant way where they had the power and now when Democrats say we'll touch it, then they say, hey, we've got some ideas here.

You had the power, you could have made a difference. The difference here is, the Democrats had the power and they're making a difference.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, stand by...

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