With the latest attack on a working family whose child is insured under the SCHIP plan, I hope the contours of the argument are crystal clear and that the Democrats understand what is really being said here:
Like the Frost family, the Wilkerson family has already become the subject of right-wing attacks. Michelle Malkin — whose baseless smear campaign against 12-year old Graeme Frost was deemed too bogus for even Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — is now trying to rally the right against Bethany.
Heralding the arrival of a “new toddler-aged human shield,” Malkin writes that “the Wilkersons made a choice” — a seeming reference to the fact that Malkin now believes she has the license to attack the Wilkersons for their public support of SCHIP. “We need more ‘partisan bickering,’ not less,” added Malkin.
Malkin’s not alone in her rage. In a piece entitled “Meet the New Frosts, Same As the Old Frosts,” the National Review’s Mark Hemingway attacks the Wilkersons as irresponsible parents:
While the debate around the Frost family at least initially centered around their relative wealth, the issue really at hand is one of bad behavior. […]
For Dara and Brian Wilkerson, the fact that they don’t have health insurance is less about falling through the cracks than the decisions they’ve made.
This is what Republicans call "solutions to problems:" all of you people who work in jobs that don't offer health insurance, and can't afford the ridiculously expensive private health care plans that are available, well, you need to get a job that provides health insurance for your whole family --- or don't have kids.
Oh, and while you're at it, you'd better be prepared to do whatever it takes to keep that job no matter what, especially if your kid gets sick, because if you find yourself without health insurance for any reason it will be because it was your choice. This is what Republicans call "freedom."
In the earlier Frost family smear, this attitude was manifest with the criticisms of Mr and Mrs Frost for working "intermittently" and failing to get a "real job." Implicit in all of this is that every parent in this country has an obligation to either work for someone who provides health insurance for their families ---- or be rich. The alternatives --- entrepreneurial risk taking, working for retail employers like Walmart or restaurants which fail to provide health insurance, is something that no responsible parent would do. Therefore, that sector of the economy is completely off limits to middle class families. And that is the only sector of the economy that's actually growing.
(Oh, and by the way, those health insurance providing companies which all responsible middle class should work for are under no obligation to these employees with kids who indenture themselves for the benefit. They are allowed to pull back this coverage any time they want, raise the contributions and fire the employees at will. That's what Republicans call "liberty.")
Republicans apparently believe this is a good way to run a dynamic economy that's undergoing massive change and adjusting to global competition. But they are, as usual, wrong. In order to encourage the kind of risk-taking and innovation that's required of the United States economy in the next few decades, people are simply going to have to be able to take chances with their employment at the same time that they have kids. Our broken health insurance market makes that more and more impossible. That's what right wing ideologues call a "choice."
Of course, this doesn't actually have much to do with health care or the economy, does it? This is about the right wing hit squad doing everything it can to intimidate people who speak out in favor of progressive programs. (When they are in the minority, this is where their focus lies --- character assassination.) However, underlying this destructive sniping is a serious idea, and it is that children are a privilege that only those with means should be allowed to have. (This translates to the idea that sex is a privilege as well, since they don't believe in abortion and birth control.) This is a very old trope and one which conflicts directly with one of conservatism's most important arguments: family values. (Interestingly, it's a common belief among authoritarian aristocrats and communist totalitarians alike.)
That's where the Democrats need to make their stand. "Family values" Republicans value war, guns, blastocysts, all-powerful government police agencies (when they are in charge of them) and huge corporations, period. They hate taxes and anyone but themselves. When confronted with an economic problem where the working, taxpaying parents of sick children can't afford the monstrous burden of over-priced health insurance for their kids, their answer to the problem is a simple, "don't have kids." It's obvious by both their rhetoric and their policies that Republicans don't value families so let's take that lie off the table right along with their completely discredited claims that they have "honor and integrity" and they are good at economic stewardship and national security.
The only thing they have left is that they believe in low taxes. That may be enough for the 28 percenters, but I doubt seriously if the rest of the country find that very inspiring.