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.

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 […]

Bus Stop Consolidation: The Times Have Changed

|
Flickr photo: erik kuo Does the 14-Mission really need to stop at every block on Mission Street? Does the 21-Hayes? Consolidating bus stops could speed transit vehicles and reduce dwell time, saving service hours that could be used to increase frequencies and add hours of operation. Yet the MTA has avoided the topic for years, […]