I’ve almost grown numb to the rhetorical depths to which the Republicans have been willing to sink in the healthcare debate (“death panels” and all that), but this latest line of argument from philandering Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) is just plain bizarre.
“Are you aware that if you take out gun accidents and auto accidents, that the United States actually is better than those other countries?” Ensign said. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) had been citing the health care systems of France, Germany, Japan and Canada as more effective, but with lower costs.
Conrad responded that one can bend statistics in all sorts of ways.
“But that doesn’t have anything to do with health care. Auto accidents don’t have anything to do with h–,” Ensign said, cutting himself off. “I mean we’re just a much more mobile society. … We drive our cars a lot more, they do public transportation. So you have to compare health care system with health care system.”
Of course, the basic premise behind Ensign’s argument — that gun and automobile deaths account for the life expectancy gap between the U.S. and other countries — is total bullshit, but he does have a point, if entirely inadvertent. Leaving the thorny gun issue aside, there is no doubt that investing in public transit would reduce associated injuries and deaths from vehicular accidents while improving public health.
Take that, John Niles.