Rebecca Kleefisch, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Wisconsin, won't debate her Democratic counterpart, Tom Nelson. She frequently speaks to Tea Party groups, however, and this week released an ad with a healthcare theme. In the ad, Kleefisch tells of her recent treatment for colon cancer, praising the healthcare she received, and attacks the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Tom Barrett. She says he favors a "government takeover" of health care.
What she doesn't mention is that her health insurance is paid for by the taxpayers of Wisconsin, to the tune of $20,600 per year. The family pays a mere $85/mo additional premium. This, thanks to the fact her husband, state senator Joel Kleefisch, is a state employee.
See the ad after the jump.
Rebecca Kleefisch is a former morning TV news anchor in the Milwaukee area and is an attractive and polished script reader. Colon cancer is a serious matter. But Kleefisch is missing the point. If it wasn't for the government (through the efforts of hardworking state employees and their union representatives), Ms. Kleefisch may well not be able to afford such excellent coverage. At some point, "Obamacare" might come in handy for her if she needs to find health insurance on the open market. Cancer is one huge pre-existing condition - many people have been uninsurable because of it.
The real story here is not just one of hubris and hypocrisy, though there's no shortage of either. The thing is that Kleefisch is an out and proud Tea Party candidate. She hates the government. She is opposed to abortion, no exception. Period. She has, on the radio, compared gay marriage to the marriage of a person and a clock, table, or animal. And the greatest qualification of her running mate, Scott Walker? "He's a Christian." We may soon find that Wisconsin, home of Progressive Robert La Follette, is run by theocrats.
Rebecca Kleefisch's websiteprovides an interesting look at history. The Tea Party loves the CliffsNotes versions. She proudly extols the entrepreneurship of her grrreat grandfather, who moved to Wisconsin in June 1856 to build railroads. She must have forgotten to add the part about the US Congress granting 2.4million acres of public lands in Wisconsin to be distributed among the railroads - in June of 1856. At today's land prices, that's one big stimulus package. And a decade before, the railroad interests were written into the state constitution. Wisconsin could collect no state taxes for nor distribute any money to roadbuilding - that was left up to local governments. As a result, roads here were few and in terrible condition until the constitution was amended in 1908. Grrreat Grandpa was set.
Oh, and Grrreat Grandma gave cookies to the Native Americans who were reduced to begging at the settlers' farmhouses. And they liked donuts! Fun Fact! Hate to be a downer, but here're some things they don't like: mass deportation and confiscation of their lands, starvation, European communicable diseases, and school team names that demean their culture and belittle their young people.
My point? History, like politics, is a complicated thing. Reducing either to talking points is dishonest. There has always been a partnership between government and private enterprise. There has to be. Sometimes the partnership works, sometimes it doesn't. In my perfect world, our leaders or candidates would recognize this. And people who have health insurance provided by the government (that's us - the taxpayers) would be grateful for it. So, Rebecca - you're very welcome. I wish you the best of health.