The concerted efforts of Congressional Republicans to sabotage The Affordable Care Act, maybe more than anything else, show us how venal, mendacious, and thoroughly despicable they've become; how unconcerned about the common weal. A little more mildly, that's what my latest column in our local newspaper is saying:
Forget the cynical theatrics of House Republicans voting thirty-nine times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and forget what it says about how they view their voters. (Hint: rhymes with mullible.) Let’s consider a party whose only legislative efforts lately have been to sabotage the first serious attempt in generations to provide all citizens of the richest country there ever was with access to affordable health care. Sabotage is best word other than the one that really applies. It starts with a “T” and that’s all I’m gonna say about it.
Unless you’re selfish and uncaring (you’re not), you must have some concern, on some level, for the fact that there are tens of millions in our country who can’t afford, much less have entry into, our health care system. It must bother you at least a little that whereas at its best, health care in the U.S. is as good as it gets, when parceled out among all Americans it falls near the bottom of developed countries in delivery, cost, and outcomes. Maybe you buy the argument favored by today’s Republican leaders, including their most recent presidential nominee, that people can go to the emergency room, so there’s no problem. Maybe you figure it doesn’t affect you that such care is the least efficient, least effective, and most expensive. You’d be mistaken. Since people who can’t afford it don’t pay, their enormous costs are transferred to those that do, in hospital charges and insurance premiums. It’s a huge hidden tax on us all.
No matter where you stand along the spectrum of concern, there are plenty of reasons, eleemosynary or otherwise, to agree our health care system needs fixing. Top of the list: unchanged from how it’s been, it’d bankrupt us. And whereas Republican legislators seem to think they can solve the problem simply by ignoring poor people, they’re demonstrably wrong, for reasons just mentioned.
So President Obama and Democrats, with literally no help from Republicans, made an attempt to fix it. Even though their template was originally a Republican plan, disappointing liberal Democrats in the process (myself included, because some form of single-payer -- mark my words if you live that long -- is the only economically viable system in the long run), they still got zero accommodation from the opposition, who now threaten to shut down the government over it. And why do you think that is? They can make all the disingenuous claims they want, parroted endlessly on Fox “news” and right-wing radio; but their real reason was simply and starkly stated years ago, by then Republican strategist and now Fox talking head William Kristol, who warned that if Democrats got health care reform they’d have a legislative majority for generations. Party politics sabotaging the country. Shall I offer that T-word again?
The Affordable Care Act is a large one, Republicans like to point out, in shocked innocence. Any bill that tries to address such a gigantic problem, and which, yes, is blindingly complex and, as lawmakers of both parties are wont to do, kisses way too many backsides, is bound to have problems and unforeseen consequences. But it’s a decent beginning. Its aims are honorable, and, to the horror of Republicans, it’s working: states adopting its requirements are seeing dramatic drops in insurance premiums. So wouldn’t you think, no matter of which party you were a member, that the most useful (let’s call it “patriotic”) approach would be to give the process a chance, finding solutions as issues become evident? Doesn’t the first legitimate attempt to fix one of America’s most portentous and challenging problems deserve that much? Isn’t that what an honorable opposition party would do, if it actually cared about the public interest?
At the very least, you’d think those who are literally trying to kill the baby in its crib would hold thoughtful and workable alternatives in one hand while swinging their sword with the other. But they don’t. Many (public servants!) are even refusing to help their constituents get information. Their latest and even more outrageous abomination is a dishonest effort to keep people – people who’d benefit enormously -- from signing up. That’s the very definition of cruelty. For purely political reasons their only concern is the destruction of Obamacare. Clearly, they’re desperate to do so before people realize its value; and they undertake their carnage with confidence, knowing from experience -- paraphrasing the words of their greatest president -- they can fool enough of the people enough of the time.[Image source]