Window onto a conference call with Steve King

When I suggested yesterday that Steve King is not an effective representative of his constituents in the fifth district, I failed to consider that from time to time he holds telephone town-hall meetings.

SW Iowa Guy suffered through one of those on Tuesday and provides a humorous account of the experience. Callers were screened so that King was able to field only friendly questions during an hour or so on the line.

One passage in Iowa Guy’s post jumped out at me:

Health Care: King stated that he opposes universal access to health care. He advocates Health Savings Accounts and said that families can deposit over $5,000.00 per year to such an account and by the time they are ready to retire they will have over one million dollars. This is all well and good, but most working families can ill afford the necessities, let alone save for health care. This also fails to address the unemployed and under-employed and uninsured.

Do Republicans expect Americans to buy into this Health Savings Account concept? If my husband and I had donated the maximum amount to those accounts for several years, we would still be in the hole without our health insurance (and we are reasonably healthy people).

A typical, complication-free pregnancy with no medical interventions in the hospital cost us around $3,500 each time for prenatal care and delivery, plus about $5,000 each time for the normal hospital stay of less than 48 hours. If I had given birth to either of my children by cesarean section, the hospital bills would have been in the $10,000 to $20,000 range, even without any complications such as baby spending time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

I had a flukey infection this winter that sent me to the hospital for a week and ended up costing somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 (considering not just the hospital stay, but also the various tests and procedures). That would wipe out years of deposits in a Health Savings Account if we had to rely on one of those instead of health insurance.

If anyone in our family ever got a really expensive illness to treat, such as cancer, you can forget about any private savings account covering the cost.

It’s not realistic to think that families will be able to build up Health Savings Accounts worth a million dollars by the time they retire. Only a small fraction of Americans could afford to do that, and even then they’d have to be lucky and stay healthy in the meantime.

As Iowa Guy notes, a single-payer system modeled on Medicare makes a lot more sense.

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Steve King doesn't get that "oversight" concept

If Congressman Steve King hadn’t already won the “jackass award,” someone would need to give it to him for the way he behaved at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this week.

It’s no secret that King isn’t interested in the Congress serving as a check or balance on executive power. As we saw just a few weeks ago, King believes former White House spokesman Scott McClellan could have “done this country a favor” by keeping his mouth shut about alleged lawbreaking and lying in the Bush administration.

Apparently not satisfied with his efforts to sidetrack the McClellan hearings, King used one parliamentary trick after another on Tuesday to prevent Democrats on the Judiciary Committee from effectively questioning Douglas Feith, the former number three Pentagon official.

You really have to click over to Dana Milbank’s story for the Washington Post and read the whole thing to fully grasp how disgracefully King behaved. He and Congressman Darrell Issa (the wallet behind the recall of California Governor Gray Davis a few years back) were so disruptive that, according to Milbank, “Three and a half hours later, Feith had become but an asterisk at what was supposed to be his hanging.”

Not that it’s any big deal–Feith was only a key architect of the Bush administration’s policy on torture and false claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

As usual, King appears to be proud of his outrageous behavior. I learned from this piece by Douglas Burns that King’s campaign has prominently featured Milbank’s article on the incumbent’s website.

Incidentally, as far as I can tell, King’s campaign site ripped off Milbank’s whole article, rather than posting a link to the Washington Post site with an short excerpt. Are members of Congress subject to copyright law?

Anyway, King is proud to stand in the way of meaningful Congressional oversight of the executive branch. But don’t get the wrong idea. He doesn’t believe Congress should be powerless. Iowa Guy 2.0 recently reminded me that King went on record three years ago saying Congress could abolish federal courts, cut their funding or instruct the Department of Justice not to enforce court rulings if judges didn’t behave.

Separation of powers seems to be too difficult a concept for King to grasp.

Getting rid of King would not only benefit the residents of Iowa’s fifth district, but would also further the cause of proper Congressional oversight. Please kick in some cash to Rob Hubler, the Democratic nominee to represent Iowa’s fifth district.

It’s a Republican-leaning district (R+8), but we just won Mississippi’s first Congressional district, which tilts even more strongly to the GOP.

King has a money advantage, but his cash on hand of $251,000 is not a dominating war chest compared to what other incumbents have at their disposal.

Also, the Iowa wingnuts may be crazy, but they aren’t crazy about John McCain. The GOP presidential candidate will have a much weaker turnout operation in Iowa than Barack Obama, and the editor of the Storm Lake Times thinks King may be vulnerable given the atmosphere of “Republican despondence.”

If I haven’t convinced you with this post or my previous work highlighting King’s more embarrassing moments, take it from Texas Nate, who declared King to be “the worst Congressman of them all” in this MyDD diary. That’s quite a statement coming from Nate. They’ve got some really bad ones representing parts of Texas.

UPDATE: Ted Mallory, who lives in King’s district, has drawn a cartoon about King’s behavior in the Feith hearing:

http://tedstoons.blogspot.com/…

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