GOP’s New Attack on Health Care Reform Bill: It Promotes Walking!

Despite a growing awareness among conservatives that walking and biking are causes worth backing, Republicans on Capitol Hill continue to condemn bike-ped programs as wasteful "pork". The GOP’s latest potshots at sustainable transportation come during debate over a health care bill that focuses mainly on insurance and hospitals, but also includes a public health grant program aimed at encouraging exercise.

070904_mcconnell_hmed11a.hmedium.jpgSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) doesn’t think walking has much to do with public health. (Photo: MSNBC)

Sen. Mike Enzi (WY), senior Republican on the health committee, slammed the legislation for seeking to "pave sidewalks, build jungle gyms" and expand bike access to help improve public health:

We need to root out the waste, fraud and abuse
that is driving up health care costs – not create a whole slew of new
wasteful programs.

It’s unclear whether Enzi knows that the federal government already has a program to encourage biking and walking, nor whether he’s aware of their demonstrated public health benefits. But his talking point is already migrating to other Republicans, who have twisted the health care bill’s proposed "community transformation" grants into a big-government bogeyman.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) picked up Enzi’s baton today in a speech against the health bill:

[E]arly
indications are that it will direct billions of dollars to things like having
the government build sidewalks and government-subsidized farmers markets.

The
idea here is to use tax dollars to encourage healthier lifestyles. But at a
time when Americans are buried under medical bills and frightened about losing
the coverage they have, farmers markets and sidewalks aren’t the reforms
they have in mind.

  • DougJ

    It would be funny if it weren’t sad

  • Eric J

    “farmers markets and sidewalks aren’t the reforms they have in mind”

    No, single-payer is.

  • nate

    Walkability is the difference between health and obesity. It’s not like New Yorkers have lots of trees, eat well, don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t stress.

  • Sidewalks? Walking? Jungle gyms? This is clearly socialism run amok.

  • Beej

    I’m from Gillette, WY, Enzi’s home town. I actually used to buy shoes at his family’s shop when I was a kid, because it was right next to my Aunt’s salon… What I find interesting is Gillette has a fairly extensive route of paved Walking/Biking trails throughout town, as well as a number of public parks with measured walking paths, and even Jungle Gyms… And he never seemed to be bothered by them. There is even a bike path that runs right along Enzi Ave.

  • Well, this explains why, for Republicans, the most important thing in zoning and development and urban planning and health care and going to the movies and everything else is the question: can I find a parking space within twenty feet?

  • stevief

    What could be more conservative than walking?

  • Sarah

    If God had wanted us to walk he would have given us… wait. Right.

  • TW

    @Beej: The reason Enzi was never bothered by all those socialist sidewalks and jungle gyms and bikepaths in his home town was that he probably had a hand in the developer’s back pockets while they were being okayed. He hasn’t figured out how to skim at the Federal level for projects in other states, I’m guessing.

  • Looks like Republicans believe in other forms of physical activity as practised by Larry Craig and John Ensign.

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