Chris Matthews’ Health Care Amnesia

Chris Matthews apparently caught a case of amnesia concerning a series of inconvenient facts in the health care debate this evening. His guest was Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, who did extraordinarily well with Matthews’ typically obnoxious interview method. (At one point Matthews exploded: “I’m giving you all the time you want, Buddy. Don’t do this ‘Hold on’ crap with me, OK? I’m lettin’ you talk. I know the tactics. Talk!” Chris spat this multi-sentence venom seconds after interrupting Phillips and shortly before interrupting him again.)

Matthews admitted the unflappable Phillips is a serious person but complained:

Here’s my problem with you guys. The conservatives talk reasonably when the Democrats get in power and say, “Well, we have an alternative that’s more free market, it’s less onerous, it’s less, you know, big shot, big government stuff” and I accept all that, but when you guys are in power, you don’t do anything on health care! You’re really good at destroying Democrats’ plans, chances to reform. But when you get in there when you have George W. Bush in there and both houses of Congress, or you got Reagan in there with complete ideological control, you don’t do anything with health care.

Nothing, eh? Remember the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the largest entitlement expansion since the Great Society? True, it may be better forgotten, as the “benefit” is set to cost taxpayers $800 billion by 2016.

In January, even the New York Times grudgingly admitted President Bush can “lay claim to some signal achievements in health care – achievements that we urge President-elect Barack Obama to continue.” In addition to the drug benefit, the Times mentioned Bush’s massively increased funding of AIDS and the fact that “Bush has doubled direct federal financing for community health centers, enabling the expansion or creation of almost 1,300 clinics in areas short of other medical resources. For many residents of poor urban neighborhoods and isolated rural areas, this is the only source of care other than possibly a costly hospital emergency room.”

The Heritage Foundation added, “The [Bush] Administration also promoted greater flexibility for states to expand coverage in innovative ways under Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP).”

While we’re at it, what action did President Clinton and a Democratic Congress take to make Social Security and Medicare solvent, Chris? What plan does Clinton, Obama, or any other Democrat have, aside from blatant nationalization that Americans have proven they do not want?

This story originally appeared on Monday, August 10, 2009, on NewsRealblog.