Conservatives could have and should have owned Obamacare


Apparently, if the temperature in Central Texas drops below 40 for any length of time, my Internet, cable TV, and phone networks all collapse. Dutifully noted. And, since this happened on a weekend, it took until just now for a tech to make it out here and get full service restored. So I haven’t had much of a chance to thank all of you who have pitched in this holiday season, as well as those who are helping with my computer-building project. Both are going well. I’ll probably have the parts I need for the PC, and plenty enough in contribs to keep my bills at bay, by this weekend.

Below is an interesting piece on the ACA and I’ll say right here what strikes me thinking about it today: conservatives missed the boat on this. They didn’t even make it to the dock.

Real Clear Politics — I want to talk today about a controversial word. It’s a word that has been with us for years. And like it or not, it’s indelibly printed in the pages of American history. A word that was originally intended as a derogatory term, meant to shame and divide and demean. The word was conceived of by a group of wealthy white men who needed a way to put themselves above and apart from a black man. To render him inferior and unequal and to diminish his accomplishments.

President Obama has been labelled with this word by his opponents. And at first he rose above it, hoping that if he could just make a cause for what he achieved, his opponents would fail in making their label stick. But no matter how many successes that he had as president, he realized there were still many people for whom he’d never be anything more than that one disparaging word. A belief he knew was held not just by his political opponents, but also by a significant portion of the American electorate.

And so he decided, if you can’t beat them, you’ve got to join them. And he embraced the word and made it his own, sending his opposition a message they weren’t expecting — ‘if that’s what you want me to be, I’ll be that.’ Y’all know the word that I’m talking about. Obamacare.

It didn’t have to be this way. Conservatives could have owned healthcare.

I’m a single payer proponent, Medicare for all basically. But the ACA/Obamacare does take care of a lot of problems, preexisting conditions, affordable for patient and government, caps on out of pocket expenses, covering preventative care and birth control. It gets millions covered, seen and treated, and on the road to wellness, many of whom would never have had that care without the ACA. That idea for a regulated private company exchange, where healthcare insurance companies would compete for consumers, with the subsidy for lower earning people, may well be the most innovative, workable solution to a Big Social Problem ever developed by conservatives in the post war era.

It was developed in its modern form by conservative think-tanks beginning around 1990, notably the Heritage Foundation. It served as a partial blue-print for Medicare Part D enacted by George W Bush a decade ago. It was implemented virtually as written sitting on the shelf to cover everyone in Massachusetts under then governor Mitt Romney — who is on record saying it should be a blue-print for the entire nation. Conservatives thru and thru, they could have owned this, and they really need to be able to point at something they can successfully pull off, outside of winning occasional elections by fanning mass hysteria.

Calling the ACA template the most innovative and workable idea conservatives have had is not a high bar to clear when considering other proposals they make. A border fence, an amendment against same sex marriage, forcing a raped teen to carry an unwanted fetus to term, deregulating every sector including the financial products and investment industries, corporate personhood, and on and on, crazy ideas, unworkable ideas, dangerous ideas, and in some cases deeply offensive, discredited drivel that they proudly push 24/7.

Contrasted against that kind of traditional wingnuttery, the ACA looks like a piece of skillfully crafted social ingenuity. Instead, just because it was adopted by democrats, they had to turn against their own idea in droves. Now they’re cornered, people are signing up and finding out there are no death panels and the coverage/prices are kick-ass, with nowhere to go offering an alternative, as there is literally nothing significant to the right of the ACA that will do what it already does.


  1. johnb says

    Of course, conservatives would really rather use another word to describe President Obama. However, that word has been banished from respectable discourse so they have to content themselves with pictures. Pictures that depict the President of the United States as the Joker or a witch doctor. Also labels that indicate an appalling level of ignorance of the political ideologies those labels represent. So much for respectful discourse.

    Also, I am old enough to remember when progressives were accused of “Bush Derangement Syndrome” when we criticized an illegal war, complained about US complicity in war crimes, etc. We also never suggested impeaching George the Second, even though there were a number of his actions that fully meet constitutional standards for both impeachment and conviction. Conservatives are now talking impeachment over a poorly functioning website.

  2. JasonTD says


    We also never suggested impeaching George the Second…

    You might want to look to this to refresh your memory. Or do Kucinich and his 11 Democrat co-sponsors not count as the progressives you are including in your “we”?

  3. Randomfactor says

    I sure as hell suggested impeaching or otherwise punishing Dubya. Pelosi took any such option off the table early, though.

  4. jakc says

    you should add to the list that Republicans introduced it as an alternative to Hilary Clinton’s health care plan, and we could have passed it 20 years ago (and SCOTUS would not have struck down any Medicaid expansion)

    the reason that Republicans oppose the bill now is because Obama passed it. Sheer hypocrisy/utter lack of knowledge on the issue. Of course Obamacare isn’t as good as single-payer – it’s a conservative idea!

  5. Donnie says

    I thought that your were going with, “any time the temperature drops below 40 in Texas, Global Warning Denialists get air time on local news stations”.

  6. Christoph Burschka says

    > Conservatives thru and thru, they could have owned this

    Not after Obama took it and got evil yucky Obama all over it. :P

  7. John Kruger says

    Having courted the racists for votes for so long, once a center right black man got into office it has really put the GOP in a pickle. The ACA is actually a very conservative strategy, all about market competition. The only way to “out-conservative” that kind of plan is to go fundamentalist libertarian bordering on anarchist, and so we get the Tea Party, willing to shut down everything to try and get its way.

    I would like to think that younger generations will have had more than enough of conservatism gone wild and vote more consistently and wisely than older generations. Perhaps all this can lead to the much more humane and sane single payer system after the old racist conservatives die off, but I find it harder and harder to maintain that kind of optimism as time goes on.

  8. lpetrich says

    Right-wingers have been showing a remarkable ability to turn on an ideological dime, an ability that would make a Communist proud.

    The story starts in the 1870’s, when Chancellor Otto von Bismarck of Germany created a system of nonprofit medical-insurance “sickness funds”. Bismarckcare is likely the oldest Obamacare-like system.

    The Heritage Foundation’s proposal of the late 1980’s we may call Heritagecare. In the debate over President Clinton’s health-care plan, Republican senator John Chafee proposed Heritagecare as an alternative to Clintoncare, making it Chafeecare. Then Mitt Romney with Romneycare. which he recommended for the whole nation.

    While it was (sort of) Bismarckcare, Heritagecare, Chafeecare, and Romneycare, the right wing did not bother very much, but when it became Obamacare, the right wing became absolutely livid.

    The right wing has also done that with other things that Republicans have proposed that the Democrats took up, like cap and trade, and most recently, weakening the filibuster.

Leave a Reply