In 2011, ex-Wisconsin Republican Governor Tommy Thompson announced his intention to run for the vacated Senate Seat for Wisconsin in 2012. During the campaign, Thompson told a Tea Party gathering:
“who better than me, that’s already finished one of the entitlement programs, to come up with programs that do away with Medicaid and Medicare?”
– Thompson’s inherent desire to ‘do away with’ essential government-run healthcare services was echoed in his earlier campaign press release in which he reads:
“I intend to continue the fight for a fiscally responsible, market-based approach to reforming our health care system that will improve both access and the quality of care.”
– Thompson is committed to healthcare as a market. To Thompson, the health of individuals is a commodity. The government cannot provide any meaningful provision of health care according to Thompson. So imagine my surprise when it turns out that in 2004, Thompson was the Bush administration’s top health care official as they signed off on a US funded $950mn universal healthcare plan…. for Iraq.
Following the war, and with redevelopment in mind, the US was instrumental in the framing and passing of the Iraqi Constitution in 2005. The US Institute of Peace reported:
“From the time the Leadership Council [this was a group developed outside of the National Assembly made up of senior Iraqi leaders from all sides in order to fast track negotiations] was formed, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad attended meetings regularly, and U.S. Embassy officials were engaged in less-than-subtle efforts to accelerate a final constitution. Several of the early meetings of the Leadership Council took place at the U.S. Embassy. By August 10, the United States was strongly expressing its views on substantive constitutional issues to reach fast compromises that resembled the terms of the TAL… On August 12, in efforts to accelerate the drafting process, the U.S. Embassy circulated its own draft constitution in English”
– At every stage, the Iraq Constitution was under scrutiny by the US. Nothing was overlooked. And so, along with the funding for a universal health care system, Article 31 of the Iraq Constitution states:
“Every citizen has the right to health care. The State shall maintain public health and provide the means of prevention and treatment by building different types of hospitals and health institutions. “
“Individuals and entities have the right to build hospitals, clinics,or private health care centers under the supervision of the State, and this shall be regulated by law.”
– This article and the establishing of a fundamental right to state-funded healthcare in 2005 to run alongside a well regulated private market, could only have been made possible by the funds allocated by the Bush administration to establish a universal health care system, supported by Republicans in Congress.
One of those Republican Congressman who spoke on the floor of the House in 2004, defending the Bush Administration’s $950mn universal healthcare project in Iraq was ex-Congressman Duncan L.Hunter. Hunter said:
“It is hugely important that we provide this infrastructure, this basic health care need to the Iraqi people”.
– It’s essential to note this, because in 2009, after his tenure in Congress was over, when asked about the Affordable Care Act in the US, the same Duncan Hunter said:
“Well listen, this is an attempt to socialize our country. And it is one that is attempted at what the architects of socialism and Marxism would view as being a “soft exposure” in the American fabric. That is, people are obviously concerned about health care. It is important to them, and they are concerned about having security with respect to health care. The problem is government healthcare doesn’t provide security. And in most of the cases we see around the world, it provides instead a system that is largely dysfunctional and provides inadequate care.”
– By his own standards, Hunter worked to create a ‘socialised’, ‘Marxist’, ‘dysfunctional’, and ‘inadequate’ health care system in another country, paid for by US dollars.
Where was Ted Cruz – the foe of any government interference in health care – you might ask? Well, at that time, Cruz was Solicitor General for the state of Texas, and instead of choosing to fight US funding for universal health care in Iraq, he was busy insisting that the Ten Commandments monument at the Texas State Capitol was in fact Constitutional. So now you know; to stop Ted Cruz threatening the health care of the Nation’s most vulnerable people, and closing down the government… just tell him the Ten Commandments on state buildings are unconstitutional. You’ll never hear from him again.
With Ted Cruz and fellow Republicans either fully supporting universal health care in Iraq paid for by the US taxpayer, or just entirely silent on the issue, Democrats were raising concerns. In fact, one of the few who raised objections to the project was the then Democrat Senator from North Dakota, Byron Dorgan. On the Senate floor in April 2004, Dorgan suggested the Iraqi government should perhaps securitise future production of Iraqi oil in order to raise funds for reconstruction:
“It is their job, not the job of American taxpayers to have a program for housing, health care, jobs, and highways in Iraq. That ought not be the burden of the American taxpayer.”
Another Democrat to raise his concerns, was Tim Ryan (D-OH). On the House floor in 2005, Ryan said:
“So we are cutting health care, increasing premiums, increasing co-pays, and yet we have created a Welfare system in Iraq.”
– So whilst Democrats were raising concerns about a US tax payer funded universal healthcare system for Iraq…. Republicans were eerily silent whilst they accepted it without question.
We should also not forget that whilst the funds provided free training for doctors and nurses in Iraq (rightly so), it coincided with a $278mn cut to the Health Professionals Training Program in the US, and a $93mn cut to community access programs, that same year.
This was happening whilst the number of US citizens uninsured rose from 38.4 million when Clinton left office, to 46.3 million by the end of Bush’s term. Not one Republican Senator of House Representative threatened government, or default on the nation’s debt over the government funded establishment of universal health care for Iraq.
A Republican White House, with Republican Congressional support oversaw the framing of the Iraq Constitution that included universal health care as a fundamental human right, provided by the state, and initially funded by $950mn of US taxpayer money, and defended by a Tea Party favourite who now wishes to dismantle all state funded health care provisions.