No Republican in Congress has been more vocal about repealing "Obamacare" than Representative Steve King. He has tried to make undoing everything in the health insurance reform law the top priority for Republicans. Speaking to the Spencer Daily Reporter's Gabe Licht in August, King asserted:
"I think we've lurched to the left so hard that we're nearly off the cliff into the abyss of socialism ... We should keep in mind so many things I think should be undone."
Topping that list for King is what he calls nationalization of health care.
"When I say nationalization, I mean under the ownership, management or control of the federal government," he said. "Now our skin and everything inside it has been nationalized by 'Obamacare.'"
That may sound like an extreme interpretation of a law that gave health insurance industry interests almost everything they wanted, but remember, we're talking about Steve King. He has derided the State Children's Health Insurance Program (which pays for kids' medical care but doesn't dictate where they must receive it) as Socialized Clinton style Hillarycare for Illegals and their Parents.
Imagine my surprise, then, to see this press release from Representative King's office a few days ago:
Congressman Steve King has released the following statement in support of the Veterans Affairs Department's decision to locate a new Veterans' Community Based Outpatient Clinic at St. Anthony Hospital in Carroll, Iowa.
"The VA has wisely chosen to locate its new VA clinic at St. Anthony Hospital. The Carroll community and the providers, administrators, and staff at St. Anthony have made significant investments in the hospital in recent years, and the veterans who will be making regular visits to the new clinic will be the beneficiaries of many of the improvements that have been made," said King.
"St. Anthony Hospital has served as an important anchor in the Carroll community for decades, and it makes sense for the VA to turn to it to facilitate the opening of a new clinic to better serve the many veterans who live in the area. In the past few years, I've worked with the VA to increase Fifth District veterans' access to health services through the establishment of new VA clinics in both Spirit Lake and Shenandoah. Setting up this new clinic in Carroll will make it even easier for western Iowa's veterans to get the care they were promised. It has been a privilege to be part of the process and the credit goes to St. Anthony's administration and staff. I'm pleased the VA has finally put its stamp of approval on this proposal. Congratulations to our veterans, St. Anthony's and the Carroll community. I look forward to the ribbon cutting."
Nothing in the United States resembles socialized medicine as much as the VA. The government runs the veterans' clinics, employs the doctors and other staff, and uses its bulk purchasing power to reduce some costs. (Medicare is sometimes described as socialized medicine but is actually a single-payer system, in which the government pays for care but doesn't control the health care providers.) The health insurance reform law King detests didn't even create a minimal government-run insurance plan, nor did it permit Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.
I think King is smart enough to understand the inconsistency between welcoming the VA's expansion in his district and warning that Obamacare has given the government control over "our skin and everything inside it." It reminds me of how he hailed new funding for Highway 20 in northwest Iowa, hoping no one would notice that he voted against the 2009 stimulus bill which provided those funds. When it's politically expedient, he'll get behind "big government" spending and services that will be popular with his constituents.