You got questions regarding the new Surgeon General. Well we got the answers!
With the Senate confirming the nomination of Vivek Murthy last night, it’s official; he’s your new Surgeon General. But who is actually Vivek Murthy and what will he do? Well, here’s a bit of primer for you.
So who is Vivek Murthy?
He’s a 36-year-old doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Also he’s on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.
Wow 36-years-old! That’s a bit young for a position as Surgeon General, right?
Yeah, it’s pretty young, but his qualifications are impressive. He’s launched multiple medical initiatives including TrialNetworks (a tech company that makes it easier for pharmaceutical companies to manage drug trials) and Visions Worldwide (a non-profit that focuses on fighting the spread of AIDS in India). With all that said, he got the Surgeon General nomination from President Obama because he co-founded Doctors for America. More on why that was the case in a bit.
That is an impressive resume, so why were people up in arms about his nomination?
It all came from a letter that he signed off on when he was with Doctors for America. The letter advocated for significant changes in policy that would reduce gun deaths by 2020. In short the letter called for significant gun control measures like removing military-style guns for citizen use and for strengthening regulations on guns for hunting, sport, and self-protection. This didn’t sit well with the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA immediately sent a “grass-roots alert” to all of their e-mail contacts urging them to tell their congressional leaders to block Murthy’s nomination.
So my guess it worked?
Oh did it ever! The NRA in DC is a juggernaut of a lobbying group. When they get behind an issue, people rally. Congressional members included. Republicans and a handful of pro-gun Democrat Senators got behind the blocking of Murthy’s nomination. But thanks to Republican Senators Cruz and Lee, the Democrats were able to push Murthy through last night in this session of Congress while they still have the majority.
Does the Surgeon General have any real power to change gun laws?
HAHAHA! Nope. Not at all. The Surgeon General acts as a mouthpiece on public health related issues (ie smoking, obesity, ect). A Surgeon General has no “real” power when it comes to creating policy, even in issues regarding public health. So even if Murthy wanted to talk about gun control, it would be a HUGE stretch saying that the issue pertained to public health directly.
Then what the hell was that all about then?!?
Come on, this is Washington! Arguing political semantics over bullshit hypotheticals is what people do! That Murthy nomination was some A-grade political bullshit if there ever was one!
So Republicans shouldn’t have any REAL problems with Murthy becoming Surgeon General then?
Well I didn’t say that! Republicans shouldn’t really care over Murthy’s views on gun control, but they definitely should over his views on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (aka Obamacare). Back in 2009 when Murthy had co-founded Doctors for America, the ACA was just starting to gain some steam. The country’s main trade group, the American Medical Association, had decided to remain neutral on the ACA. Murthy said in an interview that he originally created Doctors for America to organize doctors that supported the ACA. The idea was to create a group of physicians that would help shape healthcare policy in America under the ACA.
For President Obama, Murthy was the perfect candidate for Surgeon General. An incredibly well accomplished doctor that not only supported the ACA, but spearheaded an initiative to organize doctors that supported it as well! It doesn’t get any better than that. So Republicans shouldn’t be concerned over Murthy’s gun control views, they should be concerned over the fact that Murthy could – and in all honesty will – use the Surgeon General platform as a “bully pulpit” for issues concerning the ACA. Considering the US hasn’t had a Surgeon General for the last 17 months, the nomination of Murthy means President Obama now has a new powerful spokesperson for the ACA.
And THAT’S the reason why Republicans should be concerned over Murthy being the new Surgeon General.
(Photo Credit: Associated Press)