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 Federal Highway Administration is already promoting the activities the new health care bill would expand.
The House has recently begun its health care discussions, however. And none other than Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) -- whose greatest hits include calling for an investigation into the president's patriotism -- is on the case against the bill's proposed public health grants.
Bachmann wrote on her blog:
Essentially, we’re talking about federal funding for bike paths, lighting, jungle gyms, and even farmers markets.
In the House bill, at least the spending is capped -- $1.6 billion per year. The Senate bill leaves the sky the limit – leaving the amount of spending up to the Obama Administration.
While these projects may have merit, they certainly don't belong in a health care reform package. With priorities like this running amok on Capitol Hill, is there any doubt that health care costs will only continue to skyrocket under government-run health care?
To return to an earlier theme,
let's take Bachmann a bit too seriously for a moment. The chances that
she will actually vote for Democratic health legislation are
effectively zero. So we can safely assume that her goal here is to
burnish her fiscal-conservative credentials by picking a project to
deride as "pork."
How about the government's estimated $1 billion in unnecessary Medicare payments? Was Bachmann at all concerned when health industry lobbies said they'd rather not be bound by White House savings targets? Apparently not; it's people walking more that truly frightens the congresswoman.