GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz Reminds Everyone That Even Republican Presidents Used to Have Healthcare Reform Plans

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz Reminds Everyone That Even Republican Presidents Used to Have Healthcare Reform Plans

Democrats can be grateful to Rep. Matt Gaetz for reminding the public that healthcare reform used to be a bipartisan issue.

On Monday the Florida Repubican blundered into the admission in a House Judiciary Committee hearing that even the GOP president Richard Nixon had a healthcare plan, in stark contrast to the inheritors of Nixon’s party such as, well, Matt Gaetz.

The subject of the hearing was the lessons and legal implications of the Mueller report. Gaetz was working hard to impugn the integrity of John Dean, the former White House counsel under Richard Nixon who was heavily involved in the Watergate cover-up before turning against the president and becoming a key prosecution witness.

Dean is now one of Donald Trump’s most visible critics. With his ties to Watergate, Democrats had invited him to testify on Monday to provide some historical perspective as they consider impeaching the current president.

Gaetz thought it would be quite the “gotcha!” to accuse Dean of criticizing Trump because he has made a career off of accusing presidents of acting like Nixon in books and CNN appearances. Gaetz’s critique might be trenchant if it was not settled historical fact that Nixon was guilty, which gives Dean’s firsthand knowledge of Nixon’s actions a great deal of perspective.

Gaetz also accused Dean of not knowing whether any of the facts reported by Robert Mueller are true or false. Which, again, is not why Dean was there. But this line of questioning led to Gaetz asking, “How do Democrats plan to pay for Medicare for All?”

This seemed to flummox Dean. Gaetz then followed up by saying, “I figured if we were going to ask you about stuff you don’t know about, we’d start with the big stuff. So do you know how they plan to pay for Medicare for All?”

“Who? The Democrats or which candidate? Can you be more specific?” Dean asked.

“Let’s get specific to Nixon since that appears to be why you’re here,” Gaetz replied.

Dean answered, “Nixon did have a healthcare plan.” Which led to a round of laughter and clapping from the audience in what is normally a staid congressional hearing room.

Gaetz then wondered if the committee should turn off the lights, pull out a ouija board, and raise the ghost of Richard Nixon, for some reason.

The ultimate point Gaetz seemed to be making was that Democrats were using Dean to draw a comparison between Nixon and Trump with nothing to back up the assertion that both presidents violated the law. But of course there is plenty to back up that assertion. There is a nearly 450-page report that Gaetz could read anytime.

Watch the video above, via C-SPAN.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.