My Last Marsha Post. Promise.

"I demand to be taken seriously."

“I demand to be taken seriously.”

I recently promised myself no more posts about the festival of witlessness that is Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s cognition. But alas, I just can’t help myself after her latest public work of self-parodying performance art: the Kathleen Sebelius hearing in the House Energy and Comerce Committee this week.

Asserting that “some people like to drive a Ford and not a Ferrari, and some people like to drink out of a red solo cup and not a crystal stem,” Blackburn argued that people should be free to keep the cut rate insurance they have rather than be compelled to buy some of that highfallutin’ Marxist-Leninist Obamacare coverage. Sally Kohn at Salon captures it well, summing up Blackburn’s argument as a brief for the principle that “Americans should be free to hold onto their inadequate, costly and reckless insurance policies that throw them off at the slightest sign of illness while forcing costs up for the rest of us.”

Without question, this is to a significant extent a self-inflicted wound at the White House, which willfully enabled this latest tactical conservative assault on the Affordable Care Act through Obama’s repeated assertions going back three years that under ACA people could keep their existing health insurance if they wished. Although NBC News would have us be stunned by the revelation that the Obama administration knew this claim to be exaggerated, it was actually pretty obvious to anyone paying attention from the outset that ACA would compel many to encounter significant changes in health insurance coverage. A lot of us were cringing at Obama’s repeated assertions on this when he first started making them.

But that doesn’t impeach the imbecility of Blackburn’s way of “thinking” — that no health insurance policy exists that is too flimsy to meet the needs of her fine constituents. Look, she has every right to believe that health insurance should be a wholly unregulated market, but she needs to make the case for that, not just rail against regulatory standards merely because they are regulatory standards. Would she do away with all regulation of all insurance? Does she have even a clue as to the implications of doing so? If you want to use your Congressional perch to shout down administration officials with nostrums of free market liberatarian orthodoxy, it might behoove you and your staff to spent at least a few minutes understanding how these markets and regulatory schemes work, and what the actual policy consequences of doing away with them might look like.

Ok, for real this time: No more Marsha posts.

A version of this post appears on the Nashville Scene‘s Pith in the Wind blog.


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