Friday, July 15, 2011

Marcus Bachmann Defends His Clinics

[Trigger warning for homophobia, classism.]

This Star-Tribune article in which Rep. Michele Bachmann's husband defends the clinics they co-own, at which patients can receive "reparative therapy" to degayify them, is getting a lot of attention, and deservedly so, because Marcus Bachmann's explanation—"Is it a remedy form that I typically would use? ... It is at the client's discretion. ... We don't have an agenda or a philosophy of trying to change someone."—is manifest horseshit.

It's hardly worth comment that someone who would even consider "reparative therapy," whether as a standard procedure or only at the client's request, is a bigoted dipfuck without any decency. The noest of all the doys.

So I'm going to highlight this other piece of the article, in which Marcus Bachmann also defends the clinics having accepted federal funds:
In Michele Bachmann's campaign appearances, the Sixth District congresswoman has touted the family's counseling business in references to job creation and entrepreneurship.

Critics say her harsh words about government spending are hypocritical given the state and federal payments that go to Bachmann & Associates.

The Associated Press has reported that the clinics have accepted at least $30,000 in state payments and $137,000 in federal payments. Much of the money was for services to people in Medicaid-backed programs.

Bachmann said federal and state subsidies flow to his business because it doesn't discriminate against patients in subsidized health-care programs.

"It's low income. It's people who are on limited income," Bachmann said. "It is a lower-paying insurance. It's not a money maker. ... So, gee, we get criticized because we take it. And somehow they tie it all in, into my wife because she's the big proponent of less taxes and less programs and so forth.

"So, over and over the bell rings about how we take this federal money," he continued. "Oooh, how evil that is. And I say to you: 'No. It would be evil not to.'"
Setting aside the pathetic awfulness of that rejoinder which suggests David Brent has found a new gig as Marcus Bachmann's PR adviser, I'd like to note the dichotomy Bachmann sets up here: Their clinics can either take federal money, or turn low-income patients away. There is, of course, a third option, which is to treat low-income patients on a sliding scale of what they can afford, without any government subsidies.

But that, naturally, requires cutting into profits.

Now, it's fair enough if the Bachmanns don't want to give away their services for free, or for lower cost. The clinics aren't being run as a charity. But it's mendacious in the extreme to pretend that option doesn't even exist so that you can imply it would be "evil" to not accept government funds because you'd have to turn patients away without it.

And once again, the conservative theory of governance is undermined by conservatives.

The conservative philosophy of limited government (i.e. no social safety net) asserts that charity, philanthropy, faith-based orgs, and business should take care of people in need rather than the government. There are a lot of problems with this idea (starting with the fact that conservatives frequently determine that certain people aren't deserving of charity), but the biggest problem is that the very people who espouse this idea in theory tend to be unwilling to support it in practice.

The Bachmanns' religious ideology prescribes compassion over profits, and their political ideology prescribes bootstraps or charity over accepting government subsidies, but, when it came right down to brass books, the Bachmanns were downright secular socialists in order to protect their profits.