Haw haw! That Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)! Yelling at the President, like a real clown! What a chump! That’s no way to get things done HEY HUH WHA
"We really thought we’d resolved this question of people who are here illegally, but as we reflected on the President’s speech last night we wanted to go back and drill down again," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), according to Time. The incident reportedly has led Finance chairman Max Baucus to insert a provision in his legislation to require participants in the health insurance exchanges to provide proof of citizenship. (TPMDC, and here)
What? But that loophole didn’t exist in the first place — undocumented immigrants could buy insurance with their own money (of course), but weren’t eligible for any subsidies. Right now it’s not clear exactly what this new legislation would mean, should it make it into the combined version of the bill. But the lack of distinction between documented and undocumented immigrants is troubling, as is barring the undocumented from the President’s proposed ‘pool’ of residents using their collective power to bargain with insurance companies. Forget subsidies for a second, and imagine how much more heft that group would have if the undocumented were a part of it! Everyone would benefit (except the insurance companies)! And then there’s the disenfranchising effect of having to produce even more paperwork to get promised subsidies. Ezra Klein says:
It’s a very bad idea because the people you most need to reach — low-income folks, and the unemployed, and legal immigrants — are the least likely to have easy access to documentation and the most likely to get scared off by a lot of paperwork requirements. Any illegal immigrant interested in defrauding the government can get some forged papers and participate, just as happens now. But plenty of the people we actually want to participate will be barred because they haven’t updated their ID recently, and they lost their Social Security card years ago.
Klein has since edited this post, since it’s been clarified that documentation would be required for subsidies, not just to purchase insurance, which would be an absolutely nightmare. But what he’s describing here will apply to the subsidy application process too. It punishes the people that we claim we’re doing this to benefit. Also, Ezra, why are you still saying "illegal" instead of "undocumented"? Plus, everyone knows that Joe Wilson is nuts! He’s unappeasable, by definition! If the right wing isn’t satisfied with Obama’s birth certificate, what makes us think they’ll be satisfied with anyone else’s? Well, at least that nutbar won’t be around much longer. Right?
Wilson has now raised "more than $200,000" since he interrupted President Obama’s address to Congress, CNN reports, based on the word of a campaign aide to the congressman. It’s not surprising that he’s started getting so much money coming his way — on his radio show Thursday, Sean Hannity asked his listeners to donate, and Wilson’s already put out a Web video asking conservatives to donate so that he can defend himself. (Slate)
Credit where credit’s due — Joe’s got a strategy that works. Why didn’t Kucinich yell a bunch of obscenities when Obama blew off single payer? We could be on the Swedish system in no time! UPDATE: A new clarification from TPMDC’s interview with immigrant rights group America’s Voice: "So not only is this particular method of avoiding systemic abuse by low-wage, undocumented residents ineffective and politically dubious. It’s also extremely wasteful."