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Posted by on Aug 18, 2009 in Health | 134 comments

Anthony Weiner Tears off the Mask

Weiner.JPGOn this morning’s edition of Morning Joe on MSNBC, Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) showed up to talk about his version of health care reform which he will be pushing for a vote on in September. He also expressed regret about President Obama’s lack of enthusiasm for insisting on a public plan and his general unwillingness to go “far enough” in restructuring health care in this country. But he even managed to shock me when Joe Scarborough got him to rip away the mask entirely and ask him if he was looking to completely eliminate private health insurance in America. You know… those plans that 83% of us have and we’re being assured that we can keep them if we like them? I’ll include a transcript of the video below with time stamps in case you can’t load the video, but I encourage you to watch it. It’s jaw dropping.

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Weiner: … people standing up at town hall meetings and saying, oh, you can’t provide a strong public option because then poor insurance companies won’t be able to compete. That’s a strange thing for a citizen to say. Most people don’t like their insurance company.

Scarborough: Well, I don’t know who is saying… [crosstalk]

W: Why are people against the public plan?

S: Because over the past six months, government growth, they believe, is happening at too rapid of a rate and they’re skeptical. I don’t think there’s been an explanation of how the government plan is not equal to a government takeover of health care, which we all know it’s not a government takeover, but that’s how it sounds to people.

W: Right. But I have heard people say repeatedly that if the government plan is too muscular, then they won’t be able to compete. Well, if they can’t compete, then they’re not going to get customers. They’re not going to get patients coming to them. And isn’t that what we want? To give people that choice? Look, the problem that we have here is that we’re trying to jury rig the system so that insurance companies still continue to make healthy profits. Why? What is an insurance company? They don’t do a single check-up. They don’t do a single exam, they don’t perform an operation. Medicare has a 4% overhead rate… The real question is why do we have a private plan?

S: Wait, wait. Now you’re sounding like you want the government to take over. You say why do we have insurance companies in the health care business, it’s because we are a country that is… we believe in free enterprise, if I’m not mistaken.

W: Well, tell that to people who get Medicare.

Now, skip ahead a little to 4:44 in the replay.

S: You just asked, Anthony, why have insurance companies that make profits?

W: What’s the value? What are they providing?

S: What’s the value of Wall Street companies?

W: It’s not the same thing. They’re not providing, essentially, a government service!

Now for the kicker… go to 5:15 in the replay.

S: It sounds like you’re saying you think there is no need for us to have private insurance in health care.

W: I’ve asked you three times. What is their value? What are they bringing to the deal?

(At this point, look at Scarborough’s face. He’s absolutely speechless and stares at the table for a moment.)

S: Again… I’m astounded by your question. It sounds like you’re suggesting that there’s no need to have a country that’s run on free market principles.

W: Time out. Let’s focus on one thing at a time. This isn’t a commodity, Joe. Health care isn’t a commodity.

S: You’re saying that health care is different than everything else.

W: Health care is not a commodity.

S: But you are making the conservatives’ point. You are making the point of the people at the town hall meetings who say this is Barack Obama’s opportunity to get rid of private health care and turn it completely over to the government. I’m sitting here stunned, saying Oh My God, you’re making the point of the health care protesters.

W: If Barack Obama doesn’t want to do it, I want to do it.

Now we skip to 7:15 after some cross talk.

S: You’re sitting here advocating for a complete takeover, a government takeover of health care.

W: Only if you think Medicare is a government takeover. Do you?

S: So, Anthony, I figured it out over the break. You actually do want the federal government to take over all of health care.

W: Only in the sense that the federal government took over health care for senior citizens 44 years ago.

S: You want to expand that for all Americans.

W: Correct. I want Medicare for all Americans.

It just goes on from there, with Weiner clarifying and expanding on exactly the same point. Scarborough actually thanks him for a “level of clarity” rarely seen on these interviews, where most Democrats will not come out and actually admit it. Weiner makes no bones about it. He has no desire to “reform” the health insurance industry as laid out in “The Weiner Plan” as he calls it. He wants to eliminate it entirely and put everyone in the country on Medicare.

My hat is off to you, Congressman. I agree with Joe Scarborough. Rarely do we see such refreshing honesty. You want to destroy the health insurance industry in this country and you make no bones about it. Thank you, sir, for the moment of clarity.