I am not a big fan of Obamacare, seeing it as needlessly complicated and unwieldy and a boon to the rapacious and parasitic health insurance industries. I would have much preferred a government-administered single payer system, such as expanding Medicare to cover everyone, not just the elderly. But Obamacare is better than what we have now if for no other reason than many more people, especially the poor, will get some health care coverage. But in the latest example of the right-wingers going nuts, they have started a campaign to urge people without health insurance to not to buy even the subsidized coverage that the Obamacare plan’s individual mandate offers.
With the Obama administration poised for a huge public education campaign on healthcare reform, Republicans and their allies are mobilizing a counter-offensive including town hall meetings, protests and media promotions to dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage.
Political analysts say the Republican onslaught could prove short-lived. Beginning on October 1, Obama’s health reform will help millions of uninsured people buy subsidized health insurance for the first time. Should enough people sign up by the time enrollment ends in March, the law’s value as an election issue may run dry.
“The fear is that the law will start to work and people will like it. They’ll like having insurance, a safety net if you lose your job. Then Republicans are stuck with it,” Ornstein said.
FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, a conservative issue group financed by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, known for funding conservative causes, are planning separate media and grassroots campaigns aimed at adults in their 20s and 30s – the very people Obama needs to have sign up for healthcare coverage in new online insurance exchanges if his reforms are to succeed.
And when those uninsured people get sick, will FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity pay for their treatment?
Kevin Drum explains why the individual mandate is an absolutely essential part of the health care plan, not an option that can be dispensed with.
It looks like the Republican party’s goal of sabotaging Obamacare is now “spinning out of control”, as Norm Ornstein says. Ornstein is a long-time Washington beltway insider pundit who works for the American Enterprise Institute, a reliably right-wing organization. And yet within the last year or so, he has become one of the harshest critics of what he sees as the Republican party moving from being a political party with a program to a group that has a single-minded focus to bring the government to a grinding halt in all areas that it does not approve of. He says that the party seems to have lost all sense of what running a country requires.
What is going on now to sabotage Obamacare is not treasonous—just sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials with the fiduciary responsibility of governing.
When a law is enacted, representatives who opposed it have some choices (which are not mutually exclusive). They can try to repeal it, which is perfectly acceptable—unless it becomes an effort at grandstanding so overdone that it detracts from other basic responsibilities of governing. They can try to amend it to make it work better—not just perfectly acceptable but desirable, if the goal is to improve a cumbersome law to work better for the betterment of the society and its people. They can strive to make sure that the law does the most for Americans it is intended to serve, including their own constituents, while doing the least damage to the society and the economy. Or they can step aside and leave the burden of implementation to those who supported the law and got it enacted in the first place.
But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation—which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil—is simply unacceptable, even contemptible.
Whether people realize it or not, we have entered a particularly dark era of politics. It used to be that the ruling oligarchy knew that they had to make some trade-offs in order to keep the government under their control and that led to at least a semblance that government was working to meet some of the needs of ordinary people. What we are now seeing is naked rapacity that no longer bothers with even that veneer of noblesse oblige. Ornstein is a supporter of the establishment and I think he is astute enough to see this development as threatening to undermine the working arrangement that kept the establishment in control.
I cannot believe that a strategy that seeks to sacrifice ordinary people’s health to advance a partisan political agenda will succeed even in its short-term goal of winning votes in the 2014 election. After all, Republican senate leader Mitch McConnell said after president Obama won in 2008 that his main goal was to make him a one-term president by foiling every initiative he put forward. We know how successful that was so it would seem unlikely that it will work this time around either. But I could well be wrong since I am not a member of the audience the GOP is targeting and have little sense of how appealing their message is.