Monday, August 25, 2008

Schauer Endorsed By Ex-Republican DeWeese

Everyone remembers the 2006 Republican primary, in which Tim Walberg defeated incumbent Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz. But two years earlier, the 2004 GOP primary was just as hard-fought a race, drawing six legitimate Republican candidates, all of whom at some point had a plausible chance of winning.

That race ended with Joe Schwarz squeaking by with a narrow plurality:
Joe Schwarz (R), 28%
Brad Smith (R), 22%
Tim Walberg (R), 18%
Clark Bisbee (R), 14%
Gene DeRossett (R), 11%
Paul DeWeese (R), 7%
We all, of course, know what happened with Schwarz and Walberg two years later. Clark Bisbee considered challenging Walberg in the primary this year, but decided against it, and:
Other names being floated are the two other also-rans in the '04 primary, former Reps. Gene DeROSSETT and Paul DeWEESE.
Neither, of course, decided to join the race. Indeed, Paul DeWeese decided instead to join the Democratic Party:
Former Rep. Paul DeWeese of Williamston, a one-time Republican Senate and congressional candidate, said he's changed parties and is now a Democrat.

For a number of years, the emergency room physician said he's watched a growing disconnect between the needs of people and the Republican Party's narrow "bankrupt ideology."
(Emphasis added.)

Now, we get this news from Schauer for Congress:

Says Schauer will fight to fix broken healthcare system, make Michigan more competitive

BATTLE CREEK—Today former state Rep. Paul DeWeese, a one-time Republican from Williamston, announced that he was endorsing Mark Schauer for Congress in the 7th district race. The emergency room physician announced he was leaving the Republican Party earlier this spring.

"The people of Mid-Michigan are ready for change, and Mark Schauer is exactly the kind of leader we need right now to make this state more competitive," said DeWeese. "Unlike his opponent, Mark would never vote against healthcare for kids, and he would never tell his constituents that people without health insurance should seek basic treatment in the emergency room. You don't have to be an ER doctor to understand that this only drives up costs for everyone else in the system. The 7th district deserves a Congressman who will fight to fix our broken healthcare system, and Mark is the best man for the job."

In August 2007, Congressman Walberg voted against the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007 (HR 3162), legislation to expand the current State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $47.8 billion and bring 5 million additional children into the program. In March of this year, Walberg claimed at a town hall meeting in Hillsdale that those who cannot afford to go to the doctor have sufficient access to medical care because anyone can obtain treatment at an emergency room.

"I appreciate Paul's support and look forward to welcoming even more Democrats, Independents and Republicans to join our team this year," said Schauer. "Together, we can turn Michigan's economy around, one job at a time."

# # #
(Emphasis added.)

I think it's important to make clear just how significant this might be. DeWeese was certainly a moderate Republican, and as a state Representative, he didn't actually live in the 7th District. At the same time, he's a known quantity to 7th District Republicans, and especially to moderates who are wary of Walberg but not yet sure about Schauer.

And also, it never hurts to have a well-known emergency room doctor say that you're better on health care than your opponent. The town hall the press release mentions contains a heated exchange between a questioner and Congressman Walberg. You can listen to the whole thing here (low-quality .mp3), but here's the important part:
Walberg: ... That’s an issue, and I suggest that health savings accounts aren’t the only way to go, but I also suggest that we need to find ways, like associated health plans, giving the same tax breaks to individuals to purchase health insurance that we give to businesses…

Question: But many people have no money to purchase. You have the poor who have only enough money maybe to buy food. You can’t close the door. They can’t save money…

Walberg: Then wouldn’t it be good to take the government as much out of the way… of standing in the way of people having jobs so they would have incomes so they could afford health care. That’s the strong economics, because right now, everybody in the United States has some health care, maybe even the emergency room.

Question: No they don’t.

Walberg: [Losing patience] Everyone can walk into an emergency room and receive basic health care.

[Crowd noise]

Question: It doesn’t work that way. This community, this community really does pay for …

Walberg: I have a doctor in this row that knows it does work that way.

Someone in crowd: She might know a doctor!

Question: … Well, I’m a nurse practitioner. But we have a… in this community we do have, the community comes together for a free clinic. We put that together, […] it’s an excellent resource for people that do not have insurance. But, not every community has that. Not everybody comes together like that. What I’m saying is, that as a nation, we need to come together to provide basic health care for everyone...
This, of course, is a partial transcript, with a lot more before and after, and I probably made a few mistakes through there. Even so, this is a fairly good account of the discussion.

From this, we see that Tim Walberg's health care plan is, basically, the same "Every man for himself!" strategy he brings to other issues. And if you're still too poor to receive quality health care, well, you can just use the emergency room and drive up the costs for the rest of us.

That's not smart economics, and that's not smart health care. Walberg's system has no room for preventative care, which saves lives and money. It leaves emergency rooms-- the part of the hospital you want working most smoothly-- overcrowded and overwhelmed. And it leaves the rest of us to pay for it anyway.

I'm glad to see former state Representative and Dr. DeWeese endorse Mark Schauer. Are there any other doctors out there interested in endorsing?

Dr. Schwarz?

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