Santorum’s Ill-Advised Border War

Rick Santorum, in his day the U.S. senator I most admired, is an embarrassment as a no-hoper presidential candidate — and nowhere has that been more painfully evident than in his attempt to characterize Rick Perry as being soft on illegal immigration. Last night, he ridiculed a health-insurance initiative Governor Perry had supported for the benefit of those living on the Texas–Mexico border. “He gave a speech in 2001 in which in talked about ‘binational health insurance’ between Mexico and Texas,” Santorum said. “I don’t think even Barack Obama would be in favor of binational health insurance.” This was followed by thunderous applause from an audience that clearly didn’t know anything more about the issue than Santorum does.

Santorum is absolutely correct about one thing: Barack Obama would not have supported the plan, which would have liberalized health-insurance regulations in Texas, allowing insurance companies — private companies — to write policies on both sides of the border, and to write policies that cover medical procedures on both sides of the border. Which is to say, Santorum was giving Perry grief for having the audacity to suggest that insurance companies ought to be allowed to sell insurance to whom they please and where they please, that consumers ought to have more choices, and that we can alleviate the costs of providing health care to the uninsured by letting markets work. No doubt Barack Obama would be opposed — but why is Rick Santorum? Two possible answers to that question: 1. He is engaging in cheap demagoguery. 2. He has no idea what he is talking about.

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