Friday, November 06, 2009

On the Record with Joe Wilson

This morning, I was privileged to participate in a blogger teleconference with Rep Joe "You Lie!" Wilson (R-SC) about health care and the War on Terror. We'll focus primarily on the former, but I learned something very interesting about the latter which I'll share at the end of this post.

Rep Wilson began by acknowledging the terrible events at Ft Hood yesterday, and expressing his concern about the victims and their families. He then spoke about yesterday's demonstration in Obamington, and segued into his support of HR 3400 (a Republican version of health care "reform"). He spoke about "limited government and expanded freedom," which he believes is in direct contravention to PelosiCare.

Tuesday's elections, he observed, marked a watershed moment for those opposed to government take-over of our health care system. Given the results in Virginia and (especially) New Jersey, he thinks that Blue Dog Democrats have to be concerned about backing that kind of effort at their own re-election expense.

He spoke a bit about Afghanistan and Iraq, and then took questions from the half dozen or so of us on the call.

I had the privilege of asking the first one. Truth be told, I had at hand a number of questions, some my own, some from Mike, and chose to ask about his amendment that would require CongressCritters to go on the Public Option if it's passed. I pointed out that, two years ago, then-Senator John Edwards had proposed an essentially similar idea, which was deemed to be unenforceable. I asked Rep Wilson what he thought the chances were of its passing (slim-to-none) and whether it would be practical if it did.

He answered that the way his was worded was enforceable; that a specific class of "employee" could be carved out and put on that plan.

I followed up by asking why Speaker Pelosi was in such a rush, since Sen Reid was on record that no Senate bill exists and that they wouldn't even be considering the matter until after the first of the year. He replied that he believed that Nancy and her allies are obsessed with the government takeover of health care, in a continuing bid to "grow government." She knows that this may well be their last real chance at passing something, based on what they saw Tuesday.

Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit then asked about Rep Wilson's take on Sen Alan Grayson's recent outbursts regarding Republican efforts. He replied that "Sen Grayson speaks for himself...truly outrageous and insulting." For those who liken Sen Grayson's comments to Rep Wilson's outburst at SOTU, he pointed out that his own was a "townhall moment;" that is, spontaneous and unscripted. By contrast, Sen Grayson spoke with the aid of storyboards, and were obviously not spur-of-the-moment.

Publius Forum's Warner Todd Huston asked if the Republican caucus had pushed any further on the constitutionality of many of the ObamaCare provisions (e.g. mandates, jail time, etc). Rep Wilson said that, should it pass, it would take litigation to determine that. He also took to task those who would equate auto insurance to health insurance; these folks point out that auto insurance is mandatory, but neglect to finish the sentence: "if you want to drive." But no one is required to own a car, whereas we are all "required to breathe." Thus, it becomes a tax simply for living.

I then asked about his thoughts on tomorrow's (potential) vote. Rep Wilson believes that the Democrats are counting on winning with a "one vote margin," but that there's not much assurance they'll have even that [ed: see link re: "(potential")]. He said that so-called "Blue Dogs risk becoming Lap Dogs" if they toe the party line.

He also pointed out that it wasn't until July that folks began to understand the "squeeze on Medicare and the elderly" that ObamaCare represents. The other major problem, he said, was how it would adversely affect small business, "the backbone of our economy." He then praised groups like the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) for their efforts to educate the public, pointing out that the additional taxes which would accrue would likely result in at least "another 1.6 million jobs lost."

Next up was Jeff Poor from NewsBusters, who stayed on the unemployment theme, quoting (Sheriff) Joe Biden's claim about the mess this administration had inherited. Rep Wilson took that as an opportunity to point out that, in hard economic times, history has shown that tax cuts are the way to go, citing both Presidents Kennedy and Reagan. He also had little use for the "Porkulus" which, he said has cost more jobs than it's saved [ed: a claim borne out by this chart].

Richard Zuendt, from Conservatives with Attitude, spent some time reviewing the profound impact of the election results in New Jersey. He was quite concerned about how the draconian cuts in Medicare will fall to the states to make up. He and Rep Wilson agreed that governors from both parties are justifiably concerned about this increase in states' costs, especially in a troubled economy.

Rep Wilson then pointed to Tenncare as a failed example of government-run health care, one which nearly bankrupted the Volunteer State.

Finally, The Hill's Tony Romm asked about the "one vote margin" which Rep Wilson had mentioned early on. He wanted to know if the vote was really going to happen tomorrow [ed: doubtful], and Rep Wilson was skeptical. He believes that Tuesday's vote put a real damper on that effort. He also pointed out that the political class was surprised at the intensity of the Republican base, as well as the cooling off of the corresponding Democrat's.

In a followup from Mr Romm, Rep Wilson was asked about AARP's endorsement of Pelosicare. The Congressman replied that folks should cut up their AARP cards, and send them back with a letter as to why [ed: sound familiar?]. He then named some other seniors' organizations that more accurately reflect their members' needs.

I mentioned at the top of this post that I learned something interesting about Afghanistan, and that country's economic woes. Rep Wilson told us that there is obviously concern about continued poppy (and thus heroin) production, but that Afghani's actually have an attractive alternative: apparently, Afghani pomegranates and grapes are highly prized in the Arab world, and are actually more profitable than poppies. There's now an effort to move Afghanistan's poppy farmers to these more profitable (and safer) crops.

And that's that. Our very Special Thanks to Lyndsi Thomas for making this happen. And again, I'll be updating this post with names and links as they become available.

UPDATE 1: Conservatives With Attitude reports on the call here.

UPDATE 2: Names and links are now in place.
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