There’s a reason I’m technically an independent. Especially now that the House Republicans have settled on the idea to tie the Continuing Resolution to the ObamaCare delay plan which might result in a government shutdown as it is debated. A government shutdown is not frightening so much other than the bad press. Delaying ObamaCare long enough to fix the glitches is. Who thought this was a good idea? Unless it’s intended to be a last minute campaign message for October 2014, delay just gives the administration more time to soften the blows.
Before launching into to real reason for this piece, revisiting how we got the Affordable Care Act in the first place is worth a refresher.
Back in 2009, after Obama was elected and both houses of Congress had Democratic majorities, although a slim one in the House, Nancy Pelosi who was House Speaker at the time paid the O-man a visit. With majorities in both houses and the presidency, she said, it’s time to go for broke and FINALLY get universal health care passed. After a hundred years of trying – and being rejected – the far left could get one of their key legislative goals as dictated by the Communist Manifesto through Congress, signed and part of American law. (That at least seven other planks are already in American law….)
This is important, so please, pay attention.
It was a fourteen month ramrodding, as Nancy Pelosi pushed for and shepherded Obama’s signature piece of legislation through the rudiments of the legislative process – and not in the prescribed order, either. This was the period of time that gave us such famous quotes as “You have to pass it to find out what’s in it” and featured rule bending in the Senate by Harry Reid that would make Darth Vader proud. (The real Darth Vader, not Dick Cheney.)
In the end, the Affordable Care Act – as it was originally written with one amendment – passed the SENATE first 60-39 and then the House of Representatives 219-212 on two straight party-line votes. Not one Republican crossed the aisle. (That means that no Republican fingerprints are on the law. Zero. Zippo. This is important.)
The political left – or the socialists, depending on your perspective – had their victory. Universal health care, for the first time, was national American law.
For the purposes of this piece we’ll leave out that spending bills are supposed to originate in the House. It’s moot at this point.
After cursory readings of the octopussian monstrosity, it was obvious that the Affordable Care Act was anything but affordable OR caring and that it had to go. There were so many little ins and outs and the big database that would trace a person’s every move and death panels and high deductible health plans and exchanges…it even had a language all its own. The darn thing needs to go. It’s downright unAmerican.
The first line of defense of the imposed upon people was the federal courts.
Because the states were expected to pick up the tab for a lot of the government operations of ObamaCare, those were the entities that took up the mantle and sued the federal government on the grounds of the law being unconstitutional. The challenges made their way through the layers of courts and eventually were argued, somewhat collectively, before the nine black robed ones.
The Supreme Court, for many years, has been the last line of defense for many conservative causes. It was crushing the day that the ruling on ObamaCare upheld what is known as “The Individual Mandate.” Absolutely crushing as for the first time, the federal government of the United States made purchasing a product or service compulsory. And it wasn’t even purchasing health CARE, but health INSURANCE.
That the majority opinion let the states off the hook for setting up and financing the insurance exchanges, which really was a game changer as the feds would have to do it if any of the states refused and, as they do with everything, make a gigantic mess out of it, got lost in the messaging that day. Conservatives wanted the law declared unconstitutional (which it is), and rightfully felt betrayed.
I still say Roberts was blackmailed. After 100 years of trying to get universal health care through Congress, the left wasn’t going to let it go at “the law is unconstitutional.”
Fast forward a little bit, through the 2010 elections that saw Republican gains at all levels of government, federal and state, and through the 40 floor votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act that PASSED in the House of Representatives from the time John Boehner took over as speaker through the present, each of which never made it to the floor of the Senate, and to executive orders signed by the O-man to either take the sting out of the law’s implementation or delay specific mandates to give strategic groups of constituents more time to maneuver. This was supposedly to make the big, bitter pill easier to swallow.
That is where we are. At zero hour of an aggressive timetable made shorter by the attempts to get rid of the law – and nothing is ready to go. The exchanges are not set up, the database hasn’t been debugged, doctors are retiring in record numbers, as employers seek to avoid massive expenses and tax penalties people’s hours have been cut to austerity levels and the people aren’t liking it. To top it off, those who purchase their health insurance privately have seen massive increases in their insurance premiums, deductibles and copays to the point that all insurance would actually pay for is an extended stay in an intensive care unit. Frankly, it’s cheaper to go without, pay the fine and for medical services rendered, especially for young healthy people who are needed within the system to finance it.
And this is supposed to be an entitlement? It’s awfully expensive for the majority of the people to be an entitlement.
For the purposes of getting rid of the law, this is all exactly what we want…and what makes this stalemate where all the opponents of ObamaCare are arguing among themselves especially frustrating, although that seems to have abated as of Saturday.
There’s a saying that Republicans have a tendency to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. This week has proven that out, although maybe not in the way the far right would like to believe.
There are two competing theories/strategies currently being voiced and put into action by the people on Capitol Hill on how to rid us of ObamaCare. (Yes, there are two, even if there is a concerted effort to delay, which Obama and Reid have said they will reject.)
The loud and popular one among the American people who have a tendency to be impatient, panic and yell “do something” (a universal cultural American trait, actually) has been amply demonstrated by Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and a few others. While their sentiments and lack of warm fuzzies toward a law that has more glitches than developing a cat herding dog are shared by those of us who aren’t standing and cheering, exactly, the idea to simply defund the law does not make it go away. It’s still on the books, just defunded. Any time the left is back in power, it can come to life again. THAT is what the other strategy of ditching ObamaCare seeks to avoid, and that defunding alone will, in the end, sabotage. (Delay may not, but it will shorten the time frame to really get the message across that ObamaCare needs to go among those who have no opinion at this time.)
Believe it or not, there is a romanticism among a good number of otherwise bright people toward the idea of not just universal healthcare, but government run everything. The fact that western Europe is abandoning this form of government after decades of living under it doesn’t seem to faze them. They have to learn the hard way. Unless these folks are allowed to live and experience socialist leftism and the deprivation of rights, high taxes, lower standards of living and general lack of efficiency that accompanies it, that romanticism is going to persist.
On paper in it’s most simplistic form, socialism sounds good. It sounds fair to people who are willing to work and share and honestly think that greed has suddenly vaporized from the human condition. They’re deluding themselves, of course, and frankly, their minds will not be changed until they’ve experienced what really happens under socialism. So far, American politics has shielded the people from the worst of socialism brings, and living it is what will ultimately cure the romanticism.
By not just allowing, but INSISTING that ObamaCare be fully funded and strictly kept to the timetable originally outlined in the Affordable Care Act forces the socialism romantics to face reality – the law itself is not just expensive beyond what the people can afford, but unjust and immoral. Delaying the mandates would do this as well, just on a much shorter time table. The risk there is the levels of unpopularity may not have reached the levels necessary to overcome the voter fraud and ballot box stuffing that will inevitably happen to keep Republicans out of office.
The only remedy to truly free Americans from ObamaCare is repeal, and to do THAT Republicans need to win big in the 2014 and 2016 elections, because the left, manifested generally as Democrats at this point in American history, have waited for a hundred years for this moment and are not going to let it go without a fight including pulling a whole lot of sneaky and dirty tricks.
It would be different if we were starting out like the eastern Europeans did – with peasants ruled by a monarchy and the people conditioned to not have high expectations – but, we’re not. Americans are far more demanding and are willing to go to great lengths to get their way.
This is where arguing amongst ourselves rather than saying, “Hey, you voted for it, now you gotta live it, just like the rest of us” by not saying anything at all until the mess becomes personal for more than just contraception coverage is playing into the other side’s hands. As a party, the Republicans can honestly say, “We didn’t do this to you, the Democrats did” but if all the people who vote with the wind see is the internal conflict, persuasion to vote for one party over the other becomes much more difficult.
The true conservatively voting American public is nowhere close to a majority. Yes, a majority may live as center-right folks, but they don’t vote that way, because they really aren’t that engaged and don’t pay attention unless there are blow-ups like there were this week. That sticks in the mind and there is a truism in communications that while all publicity is good, bad publicity travels twice as fast and is ten times harder to overcome. And to win more seats, persuading independents who aren’t part of the underclass to vote right is what needs to happen.
That is probably not what the Republican leadership had in mind when they decided to demean Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, but in the end that’s what the fight will do.
Ted Cruz’s windmill tilting can be turned to an advantage as his oratory skills are outstanding, but when what one does, noble or not, is going to be ridiculed and lampooned ad nauseum so as to twist the message in the voters who are engaged for fifteen minutes one Tuesday every other November, it’s really better to keep mouths shut until the realities of the law cause it to crumble under its own weight. A very bright, old fashioned, blue dog Democrat in my circle is an admirer of Ted Cruz’s intelligence and professional accomplishments (and most likely agrees that ObamaCare needs to go), and even he shook his head at the futility.
Where does this leave us? With a very simple message that EVERYONE who understands what ObamaCare is doing and will do to our economy, privacy rights, access to doctors, personal expenses and more – when the non-engaged start complaining about all of it, shrug shoulders and say, ObamaCare. When discussion turns to now being able to find a full-time job: ObamaCare. When a relative can’t get a timely joint replacement: ObamaCare. When a friend complains that his optometrist asked about his bedmate last Saturday night: ObamaCare. When the Little Sisters of the Poor can no longer take in the indigent elderly: ObamaCare.
We the people have power when we choose to use it. The power can be used in any number of ways, and that includes speaking the truth to our friends and family. Once the law is in effect and the realities of socialism become part of life, this will be much easier to do. There will be those who are brainwashed to the point of not seeing reason, but there are fewer of those sorts than not. We can help sell the message.
In the meantime, it would be helpful if the American right would keep in mind that the movement being a true grassroots effort is a threat to the entrenched powers and that they are going to treat it as such. Expect belittling and rise above it. At the same time, think through scenarios and recognize that the here and now doesn’t beat the other side’s long game.
A hundred years is a long time. The left got what they want. It is now time for the right to make it plain why we opposed socialism for so long.
The Wall Street Journal: Let ObamaCare Collapse by Daniel Henninger
National Review: A Golden Opportunity for Republicans by Mona Charen
American Thinker: It Doesn’t Matter if the ObamaCare Defunding Gambit Fails by Matthew Vadum
The New York Times: U.S. Shutdown Nears as House Votes to Delay Health Law by Jonathan Weisman and Jeremy W. Peters