Conrad And Baucus Appease Joe Wilson’s Lie

CivilityMost right-wingers and health care reform haters have at least conceded that there’s language in the House health care bill that explicitly excludes undocumented immigrants, but none of them are willing to swallow their pride and admit that Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) blow-up was also factually incorrect. Republicans incessantly continue citing “loopholes” that they suggest actually do render President Obama a liar, or at the very least, misinformed.

Wilson has accused “liberals who want to give health care to illegals” of using his opposition to distract from the debate at hand. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and House Immigration Reform Caucus (HIRC) Chairman, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) have both suggested that President Obama was either lying or talking about “some other bill.” Former Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) says Obama’s comments raise “questions” and former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) has also come out of the woodwork to say “Joe is right, Obama is a liar.” Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) said that he was outright insulted by Obama’s myth-breaking, and Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and many others have defended Wilson’s position by slamming Democrats for voting down stringent verification mechanisms. Watch it:

Democrats have made it pretty clear that they’re not interested in providing “illegals” health care. Their decision to vote against verification amendments had more to do with the fact that one would’ve given private insurance providers unprecedented access to the sensitive income and identity information and another would have blocked several categories of legal immigrants from receiving benefits. Nonetheless, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) have expressed that they’re willing to back down.

Baucus and Conrad should tread carefully. Not only would such a move validate the lies and fears that right-wingers have stoked in both the immigration and health care debates, it could also seriously hurt all Americans. When Colorado passed a series of stringent measures requiring applicants for most state benefits to prove their immigration status, it cost the state $2 million in its first year alone and — despite having promised to eliminate 50,000 undocumented immigrants from the state’s public benefit rolls — state officials could not prove that any undocumented immigrants were being denied public services.

The Government Accountability Office further found that documentation requirements used to prove Medicaid eligibility caused thousands of eligible U.S. citizens to lose Medicaid coverage without saving taxpayers any money: for every $100 spent by taxpayers to implement documentation requirements in six states, only 14 cents were saved. Yesterday, Bilbray announced on CNN that the E-Verify program should be used to check eligibility. However, the Immigration Policy Center points out that the web-based program has a “high probability for database errors.” A human resources association claims that E-Verify has a 4.1% error rate — one that could grow if implemented on a larger scale and deny or dely health care coverage for a sizable percentage of the American population.

It would be one thing if such mechanisms were necessary to block undocumented immigrants from getting health care, but there’s several barriers already in place. The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act prohibited undocumented immigrants from being eligible for most public benefits and codified procedures for verifying eligibility. There’s nothing in the bill that changes that or the stringent verification mechanisms in Medicaid discussed above. Tax policy experts have further pointed out that it would be difficult for undocumented immigrants to even apply for subsidies, because tax returns are required to determine a person’s eligibility and the few undocumented immigrants who do file taxes using phony Social Security numbers almost always use “personal identification numbers” from the IRS, which immediately flag their immigration status.

Health-care reform proponents claim that few undocumented immigrants enrolled in Medicaid even before proof of citizenship was required. If that’s true, Republicans are essentially belly-aching over a non-issue. Ultimately, a flawless verification mechanism simply doesn’t exist and it’s probably worse to deny hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of eligible citizens and legal immigrants health care coverage than to let a small handful of ineligible immigrants get health insurance that they need just as much as anyone else.


After all, an effective health care system covers as many people as possible and as Matt Yglesias points out, it’s too bad the President and Democrats are getting pounded for doing something that they’re not, despite the fact that it’s actually not a bad idea if you care more about what makes economic and moral sense and less about what makes sense politically.

Andrea Christina Nill

Republished with permission from the Wonk Room/Think Progress


  1. jacksmith says

    Why A Strong Public Option Is Essential – By jacksmith — Working Class

    Robert Reich explains the pubic option:

    John Garamendi on the Public Option and the Grassroots:

    It’s not just because more than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

    It’s not just because according to a new AARP POLL: 86 percent of seniors want universal healthcare security for All, including 93% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans. With 79% of seniors supporting creating a new strong Government-run public option plan, available immediately. Including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans, STUNNING!!

    It’s not just because it will lower cost. Because a strong public option will dramatically lower cost for everyone. And dramatically improved the quality of care everyone receives in America and around the World. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    It’s not just because it will save trillions of dollars and prevent the needless deaths of millions more of YOU, caused by a rush to profit by the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

    It’s not just because every expert in every field, including economist, and Nobel laureates all agree that free market based healthcare systems don’t work. Never have and never will. The US has the only truly free market based healthcare system in the World. And as you all know now, IT IS A DISASTER!

    It’s not just because providing or denying medically necessary care for profit motivations is wrong. Because it is WRONG! It’s professionally, ethically, and morally REPUGNANT!, Animalistic, VILE and EVIL.


    The public option is ESSENTIAL because over 200 million of you are trapped in the forest of the wolves. Which is the forest of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! With no way out except through needless inhumane suffering, and DEATH. While the wolves tear at your flesh, and rip you limb from lib. Then feast on your lifeless bodies like a dead carcase for transplant parts.

    At the most vulnerable times of your lives (when you were sick and hurting), millions of you have had to fight and loose cruel, but heroic battles. Fighting against the big guns of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! in the forest of the wolves. All because you have no place else to go. You have no other CHOICE!

    But the PUBLIC OPTION will give you someplace safe to go. And it will give us someplace safe to take you. The public option will be your refugium (your refuge). Where the wolves cannot get at you when your down, hurting, and vulnerable. Where everyone who needs it can find rest, security, comfort and the care they need. Protected by the BIG GUNS of We The People Of The United States. THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE AND COUNTRY ON EARTH.

    This is why it is so critical that we do not lead another 50 million vulnerable, uninsured Americans into the forest of the wolves, without the protections of a Strong Government-run public option. We The People Of The United States MUST NOT LET THAT HAPPEN to any more of our fellow Americans. If healthcare reform does not contain a strong public option on day one. YOU MUST! KILL IT. Or you will do far more harm than good. And millions more will die needlessly. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    To those who would continue to obstruct good and true healthcare reform for the American people, and who seek to trap millions more vulnerable Americans in the forest of the wolves. We will continue to fight you. We are prepared to wage all out war against you, and will eagerly DESTROY! you. Time…is…UP! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! No Co-op’s! No Triggers! NO INDIVIDUAL MANDATES! without a Strong public option on day one.

    Healthcare reform can be the GREATEST! Accomplishment of our time and century. A time when future generations may say of us, that we were all, AMERICAS GREATEST GENERATIONS.


    I therefore call on all my fellow Americans and the peoples of the World. To join us in this fight so that we may finish becoming the better America that we aspire to be for everyone.


    I have been privileged to be witness as many of you fought, and struggled to take your first breath, and your last breath on this earth. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Life is precious.

    Whatever the cost. WE! MUST SUCCEED.

    God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

    jacksmith — Working Class

    No Triggers!


    Krugman on heathcare (

    Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (

  2. Brittancus says

    The bombardment of American voters at the doors of Congress must be heard, to make E-Verify a permanent illegal immigrant enforcement tool? It’s incredulous that we are winning small wars against our lawmakers beneficiaries–the special interest lobby. LEGISLATORS ARE FINALLY HEARING OUR ANGRY VOICES. Rep. Joe Wilson C-SC opened the eyes of millions of Americans, who are been left unaware of the cloaked–AMNESTY–committees that is going to rip the fabric of every voters life apart. Any detail in the national media has been subdues or intentionally omitted, as with the crowds of Tea Party opponents. Sen. Harry Reid could be stretching his neck out for the headsman in his re-election campaign, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They both have used their political influence in trying to overturn E-Verify. Pro-Illegal alien lawmakers could table it, under the “Sunset Provision” on September 30?

    President Obama’s direction towards an unmentionable path to citizenship for all those who broke our law is abhorrent. After the controversial eruption in the Session of Congress, they surely must be aware that imposing immigration reform on the people could break them? Americans taxpayers are already supporting business welfare? Corporate entities want these destitute people here to exploit, but don’t want to pay for their health care, schooling or towards the massive numbers surviving in prison. They leave that to the fading middle class taxpayers who carry the tax burden? Over a decade has passed since illegal people started coming here in droves and with little or no laws, to blockade their arrival we are now talking over 20 million. Nor does it stop there? Owing to the clarion call of Amnesty ringing out in the slums and ghetto’s of foreign criminals, sick, elderly and those without means, from all over the world will descend on us. IT MEANS OVERPOPULATION?

    Bad as it may be now, who is going to subsidize the new arrivals? Not the business cartels that’s for sure? Once again taxpayers will be heavily taxed to pay for the new shipment of poor, uneducated from every region. How can we expect to have any government public option for our own people, when our gates remain wide open for “Anchor Babies” and the illegal millions expecting a free handout? A nurse in a Nevada hospital indicated they have a row of beds of illegal immigrants on dialysis, which was costing weekly $18.000 dollars for each treatment. Tell me who pays for that? The US government pays a small portion; the rest is acquired from the hospital or taxpayer.

    I want a single payer system for homeless veterans, seniors, single mothers with children and poor American families. But I refuse to pay for everybody who climbs, crawls under the fence or bluffs the Federal officer at shipping ports and airports of entry. It’s not our responsibility. DON’T WAIT! PESTERYOUR SENATOR OR REPRESENTATIVE TODAY AT 202-224-3121? Find true facts by GOOGLING NUMBERSUSA, JUDICIAL WATCH & IMMIGRATION COUNTERS

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