Friday, September 27, 2013

We're Still Arguing Obamacare?


Let me start with this confession and observation that we humans tend to decide things in our hearts and then justify them in our heads. So, it is often difficult to meet the standard of objective, reasonable and rational discussion. Usually we just fall back on who is more like hitler. Of course it's always the other side. (Check out Jon Stewart's critique of Cruz's competing show the other night).

A really good friend on FB, somebody I truly admire, put out a basic argument about why Obamacare was so bad. I've heard this from other Republicans just this week. (I don't think that particular friend reads the blog, but I still won't further identify the person. I don't want this in any way to be a personal attack).

The argument goes something like - "Obamacare wasn't really a compromise because a dictatorial majority rammed it through like bullies in the middle of the night with it too long to even read."

OK. Some of that's fair. It is long as it needed to amend so many provisions all throughout the U.S. Code! (I have gone through it and didn't see anything about imposing Sharia law just in case you're worried). And Rahm Emmanuel is kind of a bully. But is it an effective response to hurt feelings over bullying three years past to shut down the government and risk the full faith and credit of the United States? And the bullying argument is from mainstream conservatives. The tea party or "dictatorial" argument repeated by Cruz the other night is - "hitler."

Let's think about how the historians will write this up in future years. (I know, I know, the tea party says they're all immoral, secular, evil people - switching from hitler to goebbels, I guess.) But when the Republicans went home for summer break in 2009, the country was hurting and angry. Their constituents were yelling about TARP (signed by W. Bush), the Stimulus Act (well, at least the 2/3 that wasn't tax cuts), undocumented immigrants, and our historically unique President. And the tea party was born.

It was a legislative miracle that Obamacare was passed. The President was inexperienced. And there was some bullying which should not be a surprise in DC even if more success is usually achieved by traditional schmoozing and trade-offs (which is especially abhorrent to the tea party - bullying, not so much). And let us remember that except for a couple of procedural votes in which the Senators from Maine helped out, the Republicans Refused.To.Engage.On.Healthcare.Reform!

The bill was a compromise even if not so much with the Republicans. The Democrats (the administration did not write it!) started with the Heritage Foundation and Romney concepts of private insurance and mandates to help people be responsible. The compromise was among the Democratic legislators. The more liberal wanted single-payer like Canada & Britain. And this gets me to my statistical annoyance with the opponents. They still trumpet the stat that a majority of Americans were or are opposed to Obamacare. But that is because a significant number of Democrats thought it didn't go far enough! Yep. Compromise. (By the way, polling on the Affordable Care Act isn't nearly so bad.)

Does the law have problems? Oh, yeah! But to fix them we need an engaged legislature to work with and still, the Republicans Refuse.To.Engage.On.Healthcare.Reform! Instead, they rely on hitler analogies and promise their base they will get rid of it somehow, someway. Hence, government shutdown and risk to the full faith and credit.

Is the debt a problem? Oh, yeah! (pretty much same response as above.)

Well, I could go on, but I'm tired. The whole country should be. But the tea party marches on to oblivion like the Birchers (still kicking but not exactly screamin'), the Moral Majority (when the Republican party sold out to the group that was neither), United We Stand America (which apparently is neither united nor standing), and there will be more in the future. The tea party will not win because they are an empty shell of raw emotion. I concede it is the high-water mark of extreme, anti-communist, libertarian, conservatism that rose up with the Cold War with such esteemed leaders as Joe McCarthy and Cleon Skousen (here in Utah). But when all is said and done, the tea party has nothing to offer but visceral disgust of Obamacare and its namesake.

Reagan was a pragmatist. The rest, not so much.

Good night and good luck!

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