In a recent National Review interview about his upcoming book, disgraced former Speaker of the House and recent Catholic convert Newt Gingrich had some rather uncharitable words for people of faith who supported health care reform (h/t Think Progress):
NATIONAL REVIEW: How do you explain all the Christian leaders who backed up ObamaCare? It wasn’t — there were a lot of religious leaders who supported that effort.
GINGRICH: I don’t think being the leader of an organized group necessarily means that you’re going to — you will or won’t understand the critique that I just outlined. … A lot of religious leaders who come out of basically a socialist background. They don’t create wealth. They don’t create jobs. They in fact redistribute wealth and so from their perspective this is just one more opportunity to redistribute — this is sort of compulsory charity, what we used to call taxes.
This is just lazy. Rather than tackling the moral and theological arguments of faith leaders who support health care reform, Gingrich breezily dismisses them with buzzwords and platitudes that don’t even fit the policy. (Much to the chagrin of actual socialists, the health care reform law President Obama signed last month keeps most of the system in private hands.) I’d expect more than the latest right-wing boilerplate about socialism — which Thomas Frank refers to as “an enhanced version of the old favorite epithet, ‘liberal’”– from a self-styled intellectual and guardian of Christian values such as Gingrich.
Also, suggesting that people of faith who dedicate their lives to caring for the sick and the dying see health reform that will save thousands of lives and give millions of people access to quality healthcare saw reform as “just one more opportunity to redistribute” wealth is ignorant and disrespectful. While he is jockeying for the spotlight and using cheap rhetoric to impugn their motives, they are honoring the tenets of their faith by seeking to alleviate the deadly shortcomings of our health care system.
I’d suggest that Gingrich introduce himself to faith leaders who support health care reform, listen to their theological reasoning and their stories about the people they have seen suffer and die because they lacked health insurance. He might learn something.