This Michael Smerconish radio interview with the president is pretty interesting reading, but there’s one part of it that just really bothers me. I understand that this is all politics, and that Obama is addressing a right-wing radio audience, but still, we should all be ashamed that this is the safe political answer:
Q: So my question is, could you please quickly list five or six bullet points of what legislation must include for you to be willing to sign it? For instance, employer mandates, tort reform, illegal immigrants â€” what about them? Must it include a public option?
OBAMA: I’d be happy to. First of all, you mentioned illegal immigrants. This has been an example of just pure misinformation out there. None of the bills that have been voted on in Congress, and none of the proposals coming out of the White House propose giving coverage to illegal immigrants â€” none of them. That has never been on the table; nobody has discussed it. So everybody who is listening out there, when you start hearing that somehow this is all designed to provide health insurance to illegal immigrants, that is simply not true and has never been the case.
SMERCONISH: What is their fate, if I might ask? Because there’s a 1986 law on the book that says if you show up at an ER, you’ve got to be treated.
OBAMA: Well, that will continue because we don’t want a situation in which some child, even if they’re an illegal immigrant, shows up in an emergency room with tuberculosis and nobody is giving them treatment, and then they’re going back to the playground and playing next to our kids.
So I think there is a basic standard of decency where if somebody is in a death situation or a severe illness, that we’re going to provide them emergency care. But nobody has talked about providing health insurance to illegal immigrants. I want to make that absolutely clear.
We’ll treat an immigrant kid with tuberculosis, because we don’t want him infecting our American kids, but you know, we’re not about to acknowledge the basic humanity of people who are enduring many hardships to give their families a better life, just as the ancestors of most of the population of America did.
This whole health care mess is enough to make a man lose his faith in people.