Monday, July 20, 2009

Michael Steele Unplugged: ‘Don’t Know’ If There’s Moral Responsibility To Cover Uninsured, ‘I Don’t Do Policy’


In prepared remarks this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, RNC Chairman Michael Steele derided President Obama’s health efforts, calling it a “risky experimentation,” a “Grand Experiment,” and the product of a “cabal.”

After reading his speech, Steele then took a few questions. It quickly became apparent that, once Steele ventured off his prepared talking points, he was uncomfortable responding to queries about his health care views. The RNC Chairman offered a host of bizarre, conflicting, and nonsensical responses. Here’s some highlights:

‘Don’t know’ if there’s a moral responsibility to cover uninsured: When asked if it’s a “moral responsibility” to cover the uninsured, Steele responded, “I don’t know if that’s a consideration for politicians versus a pastor.” But a few minutes later, Steele was asked – if the U.S. can put a man on the moon, why can’t we provide coverage for all Americans. “Bingo! That’s it,” Steele said, approving of the notion of universal coverage that he rejected moments earlier.

Republicans didn’t have ‘the will’ to reform health care: When asked why Republicans didn’t do “anything substantial” about health care when they held power, Steele said there wasn’t “the will to do it,” adding, “I just think that there’s been just a general lack of focus on this issue by many.”

We’re being ‘shut up,’ even though we have nothing to say: When posed with the fact that Republicans lost the last election, Steele called it a “silly” question. “Yeah, we lost the last election, so that means we shut up?” But in the next question, the interviewer noted that Republicans have yet to come forward with a proposal that they claim to have been drafting for months.

Stumped on individual mandate: Asked whether he supports an individual mandate — an issue that became a point of controversy in the 2008 election between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — Steele was completely ignorant. “An individual requirement? What do you mean?” Steele could only respond that there are “differing opinions” on this.

Obama’s plan is socialism: Steele emphatically stated that Obama’s health care policy would lead to socialism. When the interviewer noted that Republicans raised similar unsubstantiated fears about Medicare, Steele suggested that he opposes Medicare. “I think that there’s a legitimate debate there about the impact that Medicare and Medicaid are having on the overall fabric of our economy.”

Health Care is more of a real cost than Iraq: Steele was asked why he wasn’t worried about a CBO score that estimated Iraq would cost $2.75 trillion, but is now worried about health care costing half as much. Steele responded that health care costs are different than Iraq because “the costs of health care is something up close and right here.”

‘I don’t do policy.’ When stumped with numerous health care policy questions, Steele said, “I don’t do policy,” acknowledging that he’s paying attention to his internal RNC polling to craft his political message. Moments later, Steele said he’s “not concerned” about the politics of health care. “I’m not looking at this through the rose-colored glasses of, oh what are our political fortunes.”

Watch a compilation of the highlights:

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