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The illegal alien health care argument is a red herring

Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) will probably now be known forever as the man who shouted “You Lie!” during Obama’s speech to Congress.

But it appears that his emotional outburst is backfiring. The Democratic fund raising site ActBlue is showing a huge amount of money is being donated to Wilson’s opponent in the upcoming election.

And even Time magazine had this to say:

At the moment Wilson exploded, the outburst seemed like an assault on the President. Soon afterwards, it was clear that it had been a gift. Wilson had, in an emotional expression, proven Obama’s point: the summer of town halls had been less a discussion than a circus, a forum where misinformation was vindicated by passion, where disrespect was elevated as a virtue. Now the circus had come inside Congress.

And of course, the normal Internet silliness is already going full steam, including the website JoeWilsonIsYourPreexistingCondition.

Ironically, Wilson called Obama a liar over Obama’s statement “the reforms I am proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally”. But it is easy to verify what Obama said is true. Both the House and Senate versions of the reform bill clearly state that illegal immigrants will not receive any benefits from the government.

When talking to reporters today, Wilson again claimed that Obama’s reforms would benefit illegal immigrants, because the bill lacked stringent verification procedures. But that claim has already been debunked by PolitiFact. Indeed, the current bills are neutral with respect to illegal immigration. What does Wilson want? To make it illegal for illegal immigrants to get any health insurance of any kind (even if they pay for it entirely themselves)? That would probably cause them to be even more of a drain, since emergency rooms are not allowed to turn anyone away (including illegal immigrants).

Personally, I think the whole illegal immigrant access to health care thing is a red herring. How would you feel if every time a crime was committed, when the police showed up they had to check to make sure everyone was either a citizen or a legal immigrant? So if someone is robbed and it turns out that they can not prove they are here legally, then the police would not bother to help them or to investigate the crime. After all, that would entail the government paying for free police services to illegal aliens!

Not only that, but I’m sure that plenty of illegal aliens are using our nationally funded highways. Don’t we need more stringent verification to make sure all drivers are legal immigrants? And if someone’s house is burning, the fire department should check to make sure they are legal before putting out the fire.

UPDATE: Here’s an interesting angle from NPR:

Actually there is not much evidence that illegal immigrants are using Medicaid in a big way. A few years ago, the government tried to weed out undocumented migrants by requiring Medicaid recipients to prove their citizenship. Only a handful of illegal immigrants were discovered. But large numbers of citizens lost Medicaid because they couldn’t provide the necessary documents. The requirement was later dropped.

Doesn’t this remind you of the conservative noisemaking about voter registration fraud, which was actually a ruse to make it more difficult for low-income people to vote?


Tim Goheen
© Tim Goheen



  1. We have the police investigate all crimes because keeping control of criminal behavior benefits the society as a whole.

    Given the perniciousness of diseases and the drain on society from injuries, improving the health of those who need it benefits the society as a whole.

    It really is that simple. And if you don’t like that point, here’s another. Remember the French Revolution? Do you really think making the bulk of the people far more poor than a very small, very rich, minority is likely to lead to a stable society? Hmmm?

    Seriously, we live in a wonderfully stable society. Let’s not allow it to be destroyed because of the greed of a tiny few, or the fears of a few more.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Permalink
  2. starluna wrote:

    Many states already have laws in place prohibiting undocumented migrants from obtaining a driver’s license. Many law enforcement agencies are against these laws because it makes it harder for them to solve crimes involving criminal aliens. Other reasonable people just believe these laws are stupid. The federal REAL ID Act also attempts to make it very difficult for poor people, elderly people, and most immigrants (documented or not) to get any kind of government issued ID.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  3. starluna wrote:

    When I first heard the speech online last night I thought it was the Chamber that was booing the President when he said that his health care reform proposal would not be extended to undocumented immigrants. I couldn’t hear Joe Wilson’s outburst on my very un-Bose like laptop speakers. After I got over my shock of such a thing, I have to admit that I was heartened to hear that there were people upset that the proposal would not cover undocumented immigrants. Then I found out this morning that it was something else.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Permalink
  4. Brittancus wrote:

    The only way President Obama has any possibility of passing health care reform, is a commitment to remove illegal immigrants from gaining entrance to any public option? In the health care bill they must–PROVE–to the majority of the American People that–NO ILLEGAL FOREIGN NATIONAL–will be able to bleed the government extension in the package. An amendment to the 1000 page reform bill, must guarantee–IN THE WORDING– that a very thorough background identity check is performed on any applicant who applies? E-Verify would be a progressive identifier, with an initial examination of Social Security number in conjunction with Homeland Security Databases.

    To complete the operation of E-Verification this PC application, must branch out across the country as a permanent tool in business and industry for every worker newly hired or long time employee. Thousands or even millions of illegal workers could be hiding in plain site in the workplace, as they have never been checked as a citizen or legal residency compliance? It also seems that the auditing of 1-9 forms around the country, that the federal authorities forget to mention that irregularities by employers only allows them to dismiss the applicant? The fact is that ICE raids have trailed off, so that any illegal workers–ARE NOT DEPORTED–they can move onto yet another workplace. Anybody who is suspected of being in this sovereign nation illegally should be detained and held for ICE inspection, not released into the public mainstream?

    We all know that Fraudulent ID is so prevalent, that all security systems have been compromised, with even al-Qaeda murderers who brought down three passenger jets. On 9/11 these terrorists had in their possession numerous authentic drivers’ licenses and other picture ID. E-Verify is not perfect and can be cheated, but as it’s modified, collecting more tools to compliment the enforcement program it success rate will become exemplary. Those hired workers who then find themselves under suspicion, can have errors resolved through any Social Security agency. That special interest groups have remained silent about this matter, doesn’t need any explanation? most Americans want enforcement at our borders, the workplace, so contact your reluctant politician at 202-224-3121 MORE HONEST INFORMATION AT NUMBERSUSA & JUDICIAL WATCH. REMEMBER NO MORE BLANKET AMNESTIES!

    Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Permalink
  5. Sammy wrote:

    How long before some wingnut says that President Obama wants to make sure illegal immigrants are covered because he himself is one?

    Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Permalink
  6. starluna wrote:

    Brittancus clearly needs a hug.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    um, Brittancus, do you have any actual data to back up those claims?

    I especially got a big laugh out of the line where he first admitted that E-Verify can be cheated, but then pretty much claimed that by ushering in the ultimate police state, which knows all about everyone, “it success rate will become exemplary”. Are the same people who keep screaming about how government should leave them alone?

    And speaking as someone who has spent quite a bit of time working on secure systems, anyone who believes that a system can be created that cannot be cheated is nuts (ignoring the question about whether such a system is a good idea).

    But I’ll go along with Starluna … Brittancus, heres a BIG HUG for you. You need it.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Permalink
  8. Dannynono wrote:

    I’m not sure if Brittanicus received your hugs, looks like he’s been released back into the public mainstream as a part of the nutjob catch and release program.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink
  9. Chi Iron wrote:

    Real life observation tells us that, more often than not, those who work the hardest achieve the most.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 9:47 pm | Permalink
  10. rjjrdq wrote:

    You found me Sammy.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Permalink
  11. Daniel Habtemariam wrote:

    “Not only that, but I’m sure that plenty of illegal aliens are using our nationally funded highways. Don’t we need more stringent verification to make sure all drivers are legal immigrants?”

    And our public schools, our federally-owned airports, our local libraries, our FDIC-insured banks, our telephone lines, the socially-subsidized food we grow in the Midwest, our water sanitation systems, our sewage treatment plants…I suppose that means no one should be able to pee, poop, eat, drink, call, deposit, or learn anything until they’ve been e-verified as legitimate consumers of taxpayer goods…

    …all this from a party that claims to be protecting us from a totalitarian President.

    You’ll never really understand these people until you listen to Hate Radio. Do it today. It’s eye-opening. A whole sector of the populace so disillusioned by NAFTA and a world changing too quickly for them that they’ve grown so paranoid and self-focused as to not be able to tell the forest from the trees on even the simplest of issues.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

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  1. Nothing Imaginary Here: The Spinshield- Political Facts on Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    […] Wait- Good ole’ Joe said the President “Lies!” about illegal aliens being covered … […]

  2. […] strongly that illegal immigrants should not benefit from health care reform that he shouted “You lie!” at the president during a joint session of […]