GOP’s New Attack on Health Care Reform Bill: It Promotes Walking!

Despite a growing awareness among conservatives that walking and biking are causes worth backing, Republicans on Capitol Hill continue to condemn bike-ped programs as wasteful "pork". The GOP’s latest potshots at sustainable transportation come during debate over a health care bill that focuses mainly on insurance and hospitals, but also includes a public health grant program aimed at encouraging exercise.

070904_mcconnell_hmed11a.hmedium.jpgSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) doesn’t think walking has much to do with public health. Photo: MSNBC

Sen. Mike Enzi (WY), senior Republican on the health committee, slammed the legislation for seeking to "pave sidewalks, build jungle gyms" and expand bike access to help improve public health:

We need to root out the waste, fraud and abuse
that is driving up health care costs — not create a whole slew of new
wasteful programs.

It’s unclear whether Enzi knows that the federal government already has a program to encourage biking and walking, nor whether he’s aware of their demonstrated public health benefits.
But his talking point is already migrating to other Republicans, who
have twisted the health care bill’s proposed "community transformation"
grants into a big-government bogeyman.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) picked up Enzi’s baton today in a speech against the health bill:

[E]arly
indications are that it will direct billions of dollars to things like having
the government build sidewalks and government-subsidized farmers markets.

The
idea here is to use tax dollars to encourage healthier lifestyles. But at a
time when Americans are buried under medical bills and frightened about losing
the coverage they have, farmers markets and sidewalks aren’t the reforms
they have in mind.

  • Why aren’t “farmers markets and sidewalks” the reforms they had in mind? I know my republican parents would love to live in a more walkable community. My mom talks about how she use to grow up in the same Midwest town and was able to run to the corner store to get milk and eggs. Now she has to drive everywhere to get anything, how is that good for the country (or their health) Mr. GOP?

  • Reforms that are good for Americans and “the reforms they have in mind” don’t have to be the same, and given the fact “Americans are buried under medical bills and frightened about losing the coverage they have” I’m not very impressed with our track record.

    So Senator McConnell agrees the goal is to use tax dollars to encourage Americans to be healthier, and we’ve got a government program which has already proven to support that goal, the only government boogeymen I see is are a couple of Republican senators trying to confuse the facts to scare Americans out of doing what’s in their own best interest. I think I’ve found some waste, fraud, and abuse.

  • geoff

    McConnell sounds like the ambulance driver at the bottom of the cliff who was too busy picking up the injured at the bottom to go up and fix the missing guard rail that people kept driving through.

  • marcos

    Limbaugh is also making the case that the healthy put more of a drain on the health care system than the HFCS obsed couch potatoes, as we tend to seek more care for wear and tear issues. Of course, vital system failure, such as circulatory, respiratory or nervous brought on by unhealthy life choices dwarfs any amount of joint MRIs we might consume.

    The GOP is all about choice, so long as you get to choose between corporate offerings for all of your “needs,” real and fabricated.

    -marc

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Bachmann Says Walking and Biking Have Nothing to Do With Public Health

|
Back when the Senate kicked off its health care debate, Republicans tested out a new line of attack against health committee chairman Edward Kennedy’s (D-MA) draft bill: Its investment in encouraging walking and biking amounts to inexcusable government waste. Never mind that walking and biking have scientifically proven public health benefits. Never mind that the […]

T4America on How to Create Safer, Healthier Streets

|
As the reauthorization of the federal transportation bill draws nearer, the need for clear, simple explanations of why reform is important grows greater. The folks at Transportation for America have stepped forward to make the case with Route to Reform: A Blueprint for a 21st-Century Transportation Policy, a 100-page document that lays out the most […]
STREETSBLOG USA

Senate’s Draft Transpo Bill Ends Earmarks But Weakens Bike-Ped Programs

|
Last Friday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released its draft transportation reauthorization bill. With the GOP-controlled House contemplating a national transportation policy designed for maximum fossil fuel consumption, the best opportunities for reform reside in the Senate. While the 600-page draft that came out of Senator Barbara Boxer’s committee includes some key reforms and increases […]
STREETSBLOG USA

Senate Finalizing Transpo Bill — It’s Up to Boxer to Preserve Bike/Ped Funding

|
According to Congressional insiders, members of the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works are meeting today and tomorrow to hash out the details of their proposal for a multi-year transportation reauthorization bill. Hanging in the balance of these negotiations may be the federal government’s only programs dedicated to funding infrastructure for biking and walking. […]
STREETSBLOG USA

Broad Coalition Urges Congress to Support Local Control of Bike-Ped Funds

|
A coalition of 70 organizations, including the US Conference of Mayors, American Heart Association, and the National PTA, have signed on to a letter from AmericaBikes urging Congress to preserve the Cardin-Cochran amendment — a provision in the Senate transportation bill that allows local agencies to directly access funds street safety projects. The letter is addressed to […]