It’s becoming clear that Rick Perry has never met a buzzword he doesn’t like. We’ve heard that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and that Medicare isn’t working. Now he has added the words “socialized medicine” to his stump speech vocabulary, in reference to the Massachusetts health reform law, which is all about the state’s residents buying insurance from private insurance companies through a shopping service called The Connector. While the state operates the exchange, it sells nothing and underwrites no insurance. And it certainly doesn’t run the hospitals or doctors’ offices, leaving them to charge pretty much what they want to. That’s hardly socialized medicine. Yet that didn’t stop Candidate Perry from trotting out the bogeyman once again. Speaking at the Iowa Credit Union League Friday, he told his audience:
The model for socialized medicine has been tried before whether it was in western Europe or in Massachusetts The problem with state-sponsored health care is that you cannot contain it just within the borders of your state. When that plan took effect, it also increased Medicare/Medicaid costs.
The implicit translation: “state-sponsored health care,” no matter where it begins, will inevitably spread to other states or to other countries. The specter of Communism is haunting Europe—that sort of threat. During the last presidential campaign we heard a lot about socialized medicine from the Republican candidates. We urged the press not to use the misleading and inflammatory term, and after a while, it didn’t. In particular we noted that the AP actually clarified for its readers what socialized medicine was and was not.
In this crop of stories about Perry’s latest speech in Iowa, Politico chose to play the socialized medicine comment with the headline “Perry slams ‘socialized medicine.’” Its story gave no explanation or context for the remark, instead moving on to Perry’s new attack theme—Mitt Romney is a rich kid and Perry is not. The night before at a Republican dinner in Iowa’s Greene County, Perry had a different way to describe the Massachusetts health plan. Reuters and the Des Moines Register reported that Perry told the crowd “government mandated, government-run health care is part of what he put in place as the governor of Massachusetts.”