Hillary Clinton must be proud. Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's "Republican" governor, wants to make sure everyone in his state has health insurance.
The subject of universal health care is a complicated one. It sure sounds warm and fuzzy to suggest that every single American should have health insurance. The obvious trouble comes in trying to figure out who's going to pay for it.
In Gov. Schwarzenegger's case, he wants lots of entities to pay for health care for all. Doctors, health care providers, insurance companies, and employers would all be responsible for covering the cost of insuring the uninsured. His plan would tax doctors 2 percent of their gross revenue. Hospitals would be taxed twice that percentage.
And employers? Any company with 10 or more employees must buy insurance for their workers or pay a fee of 4 percent of their payroll into a program to help provide coverage for the uninsured.
As I said, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., has to be positively thrilled. Never before has a state attempted such an elaborate effort at giving every man, woman and child health care insurance.
California is particularly unique in the category of "uninsured" people. This will include the thousands and thousands of illegal immigrants, many of them children, who currently enjoy the benefits of living in the United States.
So let's start with that concept: Schwarzenegger believes that criminals, and their children, should be given health care insurance. You can try to spin or slice and dice this story any way you wish, but that's the truth. People who have broken the law to gain entry into the United States would be able to have their family covered by health insurance under California's plan.
Why stop with health insurance? I'm sure that many poor illegal immigrants have a difficult time traveling around California, so why not develop a plan to give every one of them a free car? Schwarzenegger could tax the car dealers, the auto manufacturers, and everyone who drives a car, so that every single hard-working illegal could have reliable transportation.
What's particularly galling about this universal health care plan is that right before the election Schwarzenegger vetoed the same thing, saying it would create a "vast new bureaucracy."
He sure sounded reasonable at the time, didn't he? Obviously, universal health care would create a gigantic bureaucracy in California. So what changed between his veto on September 22, 2006 and today?
He won re-election. Now that he's back in office for another term, why be accountable to the people? In true "Terminator" fashion, he can do what he wants, when he wants. He's Arnold Schwarzenegger!
I hope social conservatives are happy with the man they've twice elected governor. Until my dying day, I will remember my arguments with fellow Republicans over their support for Schwarzenegger, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal if there ever was one. "What about Simon?" I kept asking them. Why would you sacrifice your core values to support a guy like Arnold? Because he's electable, they told me. He has the name recognition that it takes to win the California gubernatorial vote, they insisted.
Well, they were right. And yet they were wrong. Who knows what would have happened if a true conservative Republican had been supported in California. I wonder if my Republican friends and colleagues would have continued to support Arnold Schwarzenegger if they could have peered into a crystal ball and seen what he was going to do with health care.
Now they're stuck with Hillary Clinton in a pinstriped suit.