Steve King Attacks—Then Defends—Government Health Care

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the GOP’s biggest bomb-throwers, isn’t known for his warm embrace of the nation’s downtrodden—or the government institutions that support them. On Monday night, he told Fox News that “there will always be those who slip through the cracks” and won’t have access to affordable health insurance. He asserted the next day that repealing Democratic health reform would leave “less than 4 percent” of the population uninsured—which, he insisted, wouldn’t be the end of the world. “They still have access to health care, they just don’t have a health insurance policy,” King told reporters on Tuesday.

But when pressed to explain what he’d tell vulnerable citizens who’d lose invaluable protections if the GOP repealed reform, King relented—and even explained how he was responsible for creating a government program to help them. “We have SCHIP—the state children’s health insurance program—and that’s set at 300 percent of poverty,” King said, adding later: “I helped put that policy in place when I was in the state senate.”

The Iowa Republican did point out that he opposed raising the qualifying poverty rate for SCHIP to 400 percent, as some Democrats had proposed in 2007. But King admitted that there was, in fact, a definite role for government in providing health care for the nation’s poorest. “There is at the lower level and the poverty level, and I’ve supported that in the past,” he said.

With the GOP in full throttle against the “government takeover of health care” this week, it’s easy to forget how integral Republicans were to the very creation of entitlement programs like SCHIP. While King was supporting the children’s insurance program on the state level, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) teamed up with Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) to pass federal SCHIP in 1997. Since then, though, the GOP has become increasingly unwilling to support the program: President Bush vetoed the expansion of SCHIP twice, and it only passed in the early months of the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, Republican members like King have conventiently ignored their past support for government health care as they’ve ramped up incendiary attacks on such programs. In a recent interview with Human Events, King accused Democrats of possessing “an irrational leftist lust for socialized medicine.” But when pressed to justify health care repeal to the most vulnerable members of society, even he seems to recognize the need for government support in certain instances.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate