"The government cannot run the Post Office. It can't run Amtrak. It has bankrupted Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Can we really expect it to manage health care?" -- Judge Andrew Napolitano (from the Glenn Beck show 4/1/10)
The following quote should be familiar to anyone who has read conservative commentary and letters to the editor during the health care debate. That exact line has been quoted ad nauseum by Republicans in their crusade against extending health benefits to the Americans who need it the most.
I am writing today to tell you that it is a dumb argument.
It is true that the Post Office is facing budget constraints and that Amtrak still requires a federal subsidy to survive. It is also true that the funds that are supposed to go to Medicare and Social Security have been raided by Congress so many times that there is doubt that the two major entitlement programs can survive this century.
However, it is not the government's fault that these cost overlays threaten these federal programs. Instead, it is the fault of the people who have been in charge of the government for the last 10 years. When Republicans make the argument that the government has failed to run Amtrak, the Post Office, Medicare, Medicaid etc. - correct them.
It is because REPUBLICANS have failed to run Amtrak, the Post Office, etc.
THEY are the ones who routinely underfunded these programs.
THEY are the ones who appointed grossly unqualified individuals to leadership positions in the government to appease their donors.
THEY are the ones who tried to kill Amtrak and the Post Office time after time.
THEY are the ones who raided the Social Security and Medicare trust fund.
The truth of the matter is that public control of the mail system is efficient and it extends the benefits of the postal service to those who otherwise would be too poor to use it.
The truth of the matter is that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security have expanded the middle class by providing some assurance that our parents and grandparents will have some assistance in their old age - and it assures us that we will not be burdens on our children and grandchildren when we reach that age.
The truth of the matter is that our subsidy to Amtrak makes car-free long-distance travel accessible to Americans of all walks of life - something that a private airline will never do.
The truth of the matter is that our government, which is elected by us, is perfectly suited to make sure a basic level of primary care is available to all Americans, and it is perfectly capable of assuring that a standard of care is met. After all, the government has already done this through the VA system for decades.
To answer my own question: Yes, they really are this stupid. Next time you hear someone making the argument that government can't do anything well, tell them that all depends on who is doing the governing.