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Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:12 AM

Running From Romney: the GOP’s Phony New Compassion

by Michael Tomasky Nov 18, 2012 4:45 AM EST

Don’t trust the Republicans suddenly rushing to embrace the 47 percent, says Michael Tomasky—they’re just as scornful of government’s helping hand as they’ve always been.

When someone in any social cohort decides to act like Ebenezer Scrooge, it’s easy and quite natural for everyone else to fall into the role of Bob Cratchit. This is what several Republicans are now doing in reaction to Mitt Romney’s remarks about Barack Obama and his “gifts” to his core constituencies. But Republicans allegedly competing for the loyalties of the 100 percent is a movie we’ve seen. It doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work for a straightforward reason: free-market solutions to many of the problems faced by the 47 percent simply don’t exist. The GOP has no answer to these problems, and it really doesn’t want to have any. But, boy oh boy, are we about to enter a galling period of hearing them pretend otherwise.

In fact, it’s already started. Bobby Jindal kicked this off by saying in response to Romney, “We need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American dream.” Marco Rubio weighed in with the reassuring news flash that, in fact, he does not think there are “millions and millions of people in this country that don’t want to work.” Fellow Floridian Rick Scott—bless him, the Rick Scott who ripped off Medicare before he became governor and has tried to block Democrats from voting since occupying the office—says Republicans have to say that “we want to take care of every citizen of our state.” Scott Walker, Haley Barbour, Michael Steele, Susanna Martinez, and others have made similar remarks. All well and good. So now, let’s match this lovely rhetoric to the Republican record of the past decade or so.

Let’s start with health care, a big problem in the lives of many 47 percenters. True, the GOP, when George W. Bush was president, passed the Medicare prescription drug-coverage bill. That was mostly a good thing, although the bill didn’t pay for the program and it created the famous doughnut hole problem that is finally being solved by Obamacare. What else beyond that? Most obviously, they opposed the subsidized coverage for millions of working poor that is at the heart of Obamacare, defenestrating their own proposal (the individual mandate) while doing so.

And how about S-CHIP, the health plan for poor children? Children! They fought it tooth and nail. It was supposedly an imposition on private insurers who were positioned to offer similar coverage. Yet of course, they did not do so. If they had, there’d have been no need for S-CHIP in the first place.

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