Dick Cheney's Heart Device Was Developed With Taxpayer Money

The ingenious left ventricular assist device heart pump used by the former vice president was developed by the National Institutes of Health with taxpayer money.
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Question for the tea party and everyone who voted for tea party Republicans in November: Did you enjoy your purely cosmetic vote to repeal the health care reform law? Personally, I would feel pandered to, and not particularly satisfied with all of that fiscally expensive congressional time being wasted on a vote that meant absolutely nothing. But that's me.

I mean, you and your peers are obsessively focused on budget deficits and the national debt. Perhaps all of that federal money, all of that federal time and all of those federal resources would have been more effectively spent on something that had a chance of actually happening. Instead, you mandated that your Republican members of the House spend countless dollars on a symbolic exercise in, well, hooey. Nonsense. The political equivalent of pissing into the wind.

Considering that many of us on the progressive side of the political divide supported the health care law in part because it actually reduces the deficit, and considering that many of us on the progressive side of the political divide supported the stimulus and, within it, the largest middle class tax cut in American history, I'm getting a strong idea as to who is more interested in fiscal discipline and who isn't.

With this meaningless vote, not only have the Republicans proved themselves to be entirely disinterested in reducing the deficit, but they've also reinforced their obsession with bumper sticker slogans, self-contradictions and utterly nonsensical political gestures.

Here are two more fantastic examples of how Republicans seriously dislike health care reform, socialized medicine and "government-run" healthcare -- that is, until they actually need it.

You may or may not recall a study conducted before the health care reform law was passed by the office of Rep. Anthony Weiner. At the time, 55 Republican members of Congress were enrolled in Medicare, including Senators McCain, McConnell, Kyl, Shelby, Lugar, Inhofe and Grassley. All of whom were opposed to the public option and health care reform.

On the House side, Rep. Weiner's list includes Peter King, Phil Gingrey, wingnut Virginia Foxx and the godfather of the tea party movement Ron Paul. Seriously, Ron Paul! All 55 members are accepting a form of the public option. Government-run health care. Socialized medicine. I wonder what Ayn Rand would say about Ron Paul accepting Medicare? A program that, more than anything else, will help to bump the national debt from 15 percent of GDP to 35 percent of GDP by 2082. And they claim to be worried about the debt? That's rich.

Where are the tea party budget hawks -- the tri-corned hat reenactors with their misspelled signs and racist voodoo portraits of the president -- screeching for Ron Paul to give up his share in American socialism?

Speaking of tri-corned hats, it's worth noting here that the founding fathers, with whom the tea party and the Republicans claim political kinship, actually passed a law in 1798 that included a health care mandate and a socialized medicine plan. According to Forbes reporter Richard Ungar, "Congress passed -- and President John Adams signed 'An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.' The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance."

Why did the founding fathers hate America, with their government takeover of health care for seamen? The founding fathers clearly didn't understand what the founding fathers intended with the Constitution, what with that evil mandate. Perhaps the founders should have met with the founders to discuss the superior wisdom of Cleon Skousen and Ayn Rand. Maybe symbolically dangled some tea bags from their actual tri-cornered hats.

Fast forward back to 2011.

One reason former Vice President Dick Cheney is still alive is because of the ingenious left ventricular assist device (LVAD) heart pump -- a mechanical life-sustaining apparatus he described during this week's televised interview on NBC's Today show. The pump operates both internally using a motorized implant, and externally via a rechargeable battery power pack mounted to a Darth Vader style unit, electronically pumping sand through Cheney's heart. I made up the part about the sand.

Suffice to say, the tea party Republicans shouldn't approve of such technology because the LVAD device was developed by the National Institutes of Health using taxpayer money -- ostensibly redistributed from regular Americans and into Dick Cheney's chest cavity. Put another way: Dick Cheney is alive today because of wealth redistribution, socialized medicine and government-run health care.

Dr. Arthur Caplan, PhD, Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania informs us:

LVADs are the direct legacy of the program to build a total artificial heart that was instituted at NIH more than 50 years ago. While a total artificial heart proved difficult to create, partial artificial hearts were designed and actively used in government-financed research trials by the late 1990s.

Again, this technology helps keep Dick Cheney alive. And it's only made possible through government spending on health care. Now, I don't like Dick Cheney's politics and I hope that history remembers him as one of the supervillains of our time, but I'm grateful that he and other Americans are benefiting from an obviously wise usage of taxpayer money, even if I never see any return on my personal contribution towards such government endeavors (fingers crossed for good cardio health).

But the Republicans would rather end most attempts to build upon this invaluable pattern of American investment in the health of its citizens as both a moral and a fiscal imperative. I'm not sure why, exactly. Considering how much of the health care bill was initially based upon Republican ideas (the mandate, for example), they appear to be opposed to the law because the tea party says so. And the tea party says so because it's the opposite of what the Muslim in the White House wants.

The Republicans would rather symbolically tear down past advancements than to offer new ideas and improvements upon the current system. They do this out of some kind of twisted interpretation of American democracy, American economics and American history. They do this while many of them enjoy socialized medicine and a government-run health insurance program, and while their supporters brandish signs inexplicably demanding government to keep its hands away from their Medicare.

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