Question Time: What Did Mitt Romney Learn During His Travels Abroad?August 3rd, 2012 1:40 am Joe Conason
Mitt Romney visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem
Now that Mitt Romney has returned home from his entertaining sojourn overseas, perhaps someone will ask him a few pertinent (and impertinent) questions about the countries he visited. While visiting England, Israel, and Poland, the Republican candidate delivered remarks on their economic and health systems that could – if subjected to factual analysis – serve to educate American voters and conceivably even the ill-informed Romney himself.
Question: You and Mrs. Romney attended the colorful opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in London. During those festivities you must have noticed that noisy, enthusiastic tribute to the National Health Service – which featured dancing doctors and nurses who serve in Britain’s government-operated, publicly-financed, absolutely mandatory system of universal care. Does the continuing existence of this entity mean that the United Kingdom is “socialist”?
Followup: OK, why do you suppose the British people are so enamored of this obviously oppressive system that they celebrated its existence before a worldwide audience estimated at a billion viewers?
Question: In Poland, you delivered a speech on that country’s valiant struggle for freedom against the central economic controls that had stifled growth under Communism. Did you realize that the Polish Ministry of Health controls all health care services, with a National Health Fund that serves as the system’s single payer — with mandatory universal coverage funded by contributions collected from every employed citizen?
Followup: Measured by the Republican definition of “socialism” — a term routinely used by your party’s elected officials and commentators to describe the Affordable Care Act — do the above facts mean that Poland is still a damned socialist country?
Question: While entertaining campaign donors in Israel, you mentioned that health care costs are “completely out of control” in the United States. You said, “Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? Eight percent. You spend eight percent of [gross domestic product] on health care. And you’re a pretty healthy nation.”
When you praised Israel’s low-cost, high-efficiency health system,were you aware that the Jewish state has provided universal care since its founding in 1948, with a system of nationally-funded mandatory insurance codified into law by the Knesset in 1995? By the way, does that mean Israel – whose policies you have promised never to criticize — is in fact another damned socialist society?
Extra-credit followups: Speaking of socialism, did you happen to know that our cherished ally Israel is a nation founded by socialists? And did you also know that the Jewish state’s growth rate was far higher during the decades when the government – and the Histadrut trade union federation — directly controlled most of its economy? (Don’t tell the right-wing evangelicals about any of this stuff, or they may begin to reconsider “Christian Zionism.”)