Defunding Obamacare and Retro Politics

By on August 1, 2013

defundA handful of newly seated Republican Congressmen in both the house and the senate have devised a new way to torpedo implementation of the Affordable Care Act — refuse to fund key components of the bill and tie this to the over-all budget agreement. If the Democrats refuse to go along, they will bring government operations to a halt until the government in paralysis comes around. This approach was used in 1995-96 and it blew up in the faces of its instigators. It will likely do the same again.

Most of the provisions of the ACA now in place do not need additional government subsidies. Funds like penalties and taxes are built into the provision and would go forward even if the government closed down. RubioSenator Marco Rubio, the former champion of immigration reform who watched his GOP support numbers crumble, calls “Obamacare” the biggest thing undermining our economy. He wants his party to play ‘chicken’ again on health care.
Really? What about the threat of out-of-control health care costs, annual increases in the number of uninsured working Americans, people getting primary care in emergency wards, staggering insurance premiums increases for working Americans and record personal bankruptcies due to medical bills? Health Care spending was on target to represent 1/3 of all the money spent in the US by 2034 without some intervention. This would be more than twice the country in second place. There would be no money for defense, public transportation, police and fire protection, new roads or debt payments.

We have seen some flattening in these numbers since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, but relief is not reliably on its way. The economy is still in a fragile and uneven recovery, and its peril is not the result of someone trying to control the spiraling costs of health care. As the comprehensive report in Time magazine this Spring demonstrated, there is fat galore in our health care system and its outcomes are not what we’d like to believe. There are variations in costs from state to state and hospital to hospital that defy logic. There is redundancy in rich communities, dearth in poor. Every one in America is in some way paying for our broken health care delivery delivery system. The health care and health insurance sectors are running away. Every time someone in Washington burps, health care insurance premiums go way up.  So do profits. This is real threat to the economy and every American that seems to escape Senator Rubio.

I suspect Obamacare will be an intermediate measure on the road to something better, if it survives. It is complex, it is chock full of compromises, something that was bound to happen as health care reform in this country came so late. Some things will not work as advertised. Some things that were done to get the bill passed should be now weeded out. I don’t think anyone at this point can tell you how well the ACA will work, even if it not sabotaged by the opposition, but right now it is the only plan we’ve got and we need something.

It would have been be helpful if an alternative health care reform plan had been put forth that represented the best thinking of Conservative minds today, but so far that has not happened. The problem has now gotten so huge than the ‘little fixes’ some in the opposition advocate could not possibly help.  Conservativism seems to be asleep. Or has gone away. What we hear now is the noise of a slightly left of center party having a public argument with a gab-bag of Reactionaries who want to halt any work and say ‘no’ to everything. The marketplace might still hold an alternative proposal to what is before us, but we will never know what that is as long as the opposition just wants to repeal and deny.

moonshineWe need responsible, conservative, thoughtful proposals on the subject of health care reform and we are not getting them. These voices, once part of the venerable Republican Party seem to have gone away. Instead we hear dumbbell ideas on rape and contraception put forward from a party that has indeed become a home for some pretty wacky people, amplified by a lot of paid partisan talking heads on TV.  When the Republican Party, in its eagerness to become the majority, swallowed up the Wallace-ites in the 70’s, they took in more than they could ingest. Faith and Instinct are fine but not when they fly in the face of established scientific fact. Party loyalty is commendable but not when you find yourself mouthing words nobody believes. (Attention Senator Rubio) Everybody who looks or talks different than you should not automatically be ‘suspect.’ If the GOP get any more ‘retro,’ I expect the white sheets and moonshine and lists of communist sympathizers to come out again.

KKKAt this time, we need the few surviving thinking conservatives in the Republican party — and not those who got us into the Iraq war— to pull out of their colossal nose dive and send the lunatic fringe packing before it is too late. I believe if the Republicans could distance themselves from the loonies and the paranoid, many independents would return to their fold. We need an honest dialog on health care costs in this country and it is STILL not happening. Republicans, gentlemen, please come to the aid of your party.


Tom Godfrey

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