“There Are Things In It That Scare Me”: For Republicans, Dishonesty Works And Deceit Instills Fear And Uncertainty
There isn’t a democracy on the planet in which even conservative candidates take aim at citizens’ access to health care. At a certain level, the very idea seems a little silly – a national candidate would presumably fail if he or she told their electorate, “Vote for me and I promise to leave some of you behind without access to basic medical care.”
But the United States is the exception. The Republican Party is the only major party in any major democracy that believes citizens are not entitled to medical care as a benefit of citizenship. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), as we discussed yesterday, want the GOP to abandon universal coverage as a worthwhile goal.
The Affordable Care Act may have extended new health security to tens of millions of families, but Jindal and Republicans believe voters should elect them to deliberately take that security away.
In theory, this should be a very tough sell. Why in the world would any Americans consider voting, on purpose, for a platform that could deliberately punish their own family?
The answer, I suspect, has a lot to do with the power of fear.
The New York Times recently published a fascinating piece on Kentucky’s triumphs in implementing the Affordable Care Act, and the article highlighted a woman named Amanda Mayhew. On paper, the piece presents Mayhew as a classic example of an “Obamacare” success story: thanks to the ACA, she been able to receive free, overdue dental care; she was able to see a dermatologist for free; and she received medication to treat depression for free. This one law has made a big, positive difference in her life.
And then came the twist.
“I don’t love Obamacare,” she said. “There are things in it that scare me and that I don’t agree with.”
For example, she said, she heard from news programs that the Affordable Care Act prohibited lifesaving care for elderly people with cancer.
Mayhew went on to tell the NYT that she’s “thankful” for her coverage, she would “gladly give up my insurance today if it meant that some of the things that are in the law were not in place.”
The problem, of course, is that Mayhew has been misled. Despite what she “heard from news programs,” the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit lifesaving care for elderly people with cancer. It actually does the opposite – which is why the law has received the enthusiastic support of the American Cancer Society and AARP.
The Times article featured a well-intentioned woman, whose heart clearly seems to be in the right place, who would sacrifice her own access to medical care in order to scrap provisions in the law that do not actually exist.
And that’s where Republican rhetoric comes into play. For years, the naive among us – a group that I include myself in – have marveled at the extraordinary lies that have been told about the Affordable Care Act. Why, we ask, would the right lie so brazenly to families who urgently need access to doctors and medicine?
Because dishonesty works. Deceit instills fear and uncertainty.
When Republican candidates vow to gut the American health care system and take Americans’ coverage away, there are plenty of voters who are willing to go along because they’re eager to undo those horrible provisions in the law they “heard about” on “news programs.”
The power of deceptive propaganda, backed by billionaires and their powerful elected allies, shouldn’t be underestimated.
The Kaiser Family Foundation recently found that 41% of the country still, even now, believes “a government panel” exists to “make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare.” That’s two out of every five Americans who believe a ridiculous falsehood.
It’s not that these people are bad or dumb. It’s not that they want their neighbors or community to suffer. The issue here is that some wealthy and sophisticated folks launched a con job on the public, and the scam roped in a lot of victims.
Why else would politicians run on a platform of pushing millions of Americans into a position where they’re one ailment away from bankruptcy? It’s because they think they can get away with it – nice, generous folks will sacrifice their own security to prevent imaginary threats from hurting someone else.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 13, 2015
I briefly mentioned Michael Gerson’s “Are Democrats Stuck in 1979?” column yesterday, but wasn’t in a big hurry to smack it down. It’s precisely Gerson’s history as the rare conservative willing on occasion to criticize his party’s extremism that probably makes this sort of claim that the other side is even more extreme inevitable.
But some editor or maybe even a history-conscious intern might have warned Gerson that choosing 1979 as the mythical apogee of Democratic liberalism was a bad idea. That’s a year in which a Democratic president began to prepare for a re-election campaign by pushing for a balanced budget and a big increase in defense spending, even as liberal icon Ted Kennedy headed for a humiliating defeat in the primaries.
In any event, here’s the tiresome assertion that really annoys me as a veteran of the New Democrat thing:
President Obama has now effectively undone everything that Clinton and the New Democrats did in the 1980s and ’90s.
Gerson’s not real specific about this claim, though I assume part of his argument would involve resuscitating the Romney-Ryan campaign’s lie that Obama had “gutted” welfare reform. But what else?
Since Gerson appears to assume that Clinton was strictly about appropriating conservative themes, I guess he cannot come to grips with the fact that the Affordable Care Act was based on the “managed competition” model that a lot of New Democrats preferred to Clinton’s own health care proposal, or that Obama’s “cap-and-trade” proposal was relentlessly and redundantly promoted by the New Democratic think tank the Progressive Policy Institute. Just about everything Obama has proposed on tax policy, education policy, infrastructure policy, trade policy and even national security policy has been right out of the Clintonian playbook. Has Gerson noticed that Obama’s not real popular with people on the left wing of the Democratic Party?
Well, never mind; I guess the Obama-the-lefty construct, threadbare as it is, was necessary for Gerson to set up the heads-we-win tails-you-lose proposition that HRC needs to move the Democratic Party to the right or accept that “the political achievements of her husband [have] been washed away.” I do believe Obama was the first Democrat since FDR to be elected twice with a majority of the popular vote; that ought to count for something.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, January 7, 2014
“24 Health-Care Scandals”: Legislators Who Block Medicaid Expansion Are Stiffing Veterans Out Of Health Care, And Stiffing Workers Out Of Jobs
The scandal over long wait times for veterans in the Department of Veterans Affairs health system has grabbed a lot of headlines and elicited a lot of righteous anger — as it should. America’s veterans deserve so much better.
But as Ezra Klein pointed out in a piece in Vox, there’s another health care scandal that also deserves its share of righteous anger, and it also has a big impact on veterans with health care needs: the self-destructive refusal of lawmakers in 20-plus states to accept federal funds to expand their Medicaid programs.
Klein cataloged “24 health-care scandals that critics of the VA should also be furious about” (that is, the 24 states that have rejected the Medicaid expansion). Thanks to lawmakers’ knee-jerk opposition to expanding health coverage in those states, there are huge numbers of uninsured veterans who should be eligible for coverage, but aren’t: 41,200 veterans in Florida, 24,900 in Georgia, 48,900 in Texas… and the list goes on.
All in all, about 250,000 uninsured veterans are getting stiffed out of eligibility for health coverage by lawmakers who have blocked Medicaid expansion, according to Pew’s Stateline. As it turns out, those lawmakers are also stiffing their own states out of economy-boosting jobs — health care jobs that are overwhelmingly good-paying jobs. Medicaid expansion would create thousands more of these jobs.
Virginia, where Medicaid expansion still hangs in limbo, is a perfect example. According to a report from Chmura Economics & Analytics, Medicaid expansion would create an average of over 30,000 jobs annually in Virginia, including more than 15,000 jobs in the state’s health care sector. An analysis of data on projected job openings and wage levels underscores that these will be good-paying, economy-boosting jobs.
For a single adult in Virginia, less than half of all projected job openings statewide pay above a living wage ($18.59/hour, according to the 2013 Virginia Job Gap Study). However, three out of five health care job openings and close to nine out of 10 health practitioner and technical job openings do.
For a household with two working adults and two children, while less than two out of five projected job openings in Virginia pay median wages above a living wage ($21.99/hour per worker), half of health care job openings and more than seven out of 10 health practitioner and technical job openings do.
Or look at Maine, where Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan passed by the Maine Legislature earlier this year, and too few Republican legislators were willing to break ranks with the Governor to override his veto. There, Medicaid expansion would create over 4,000 jobs by 2016, including more than 2,000 jobs in Maine’s health care sector. As with Virginia, health care jobs beat statewide wage levels in Maine by wide margins.
For a single adult, less than half of all projected job openings in Maine pay above a living wage ($15.18/hour, according to the 2013 Maine Job Gap Study). But two-thirds of health care job openings and almost nine out of 10 health practitioner and technical job openings do. For a household with two working adults and two children, while barely one-third of projected job openings in Maine pay above a living wage ($18.87/hour per worker), almost three-fifths of health care job openings and more than four out of five health practitioner and technical job openings do.
Health care jobs are also overwhelmingly higher-wage jobs in states like Montana and Idaho. But all these states, along with 20 others, have been missing out on these economy-boosting jobs because their legislatures or governors have rejected Medicaid expansion.
State lawmakers who continue to block Medicaid expansion do so at their own peril — both morally and electorally. Because you can only stiff your own constituents — including low-income, uninsured veterans — out of both access to health care and good-paying, economy-boosting jobs for so long before it catches up with you.
Want to really do something to help veterans get access to the health care they need and create good-paying jobs for your constituents at the same time? Two words: expand Medicaid.
By: LeeAnn Hall, Executive Director, The Alliance For A Just Society; The Huffington Post Blog, August 6, 2014
“Chris Christie Is Once Again The Last To Know”: Building His Brand As The Last Guy On The Block To Know What’s Going On
Chris Christie is in the news again, this time for calling the ACA a “failure”:
In what could be the latest move toward a 2016 presidential bid, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) offered a wide-ranging critique of President Obama’s domestic and foreign policies. Speaking to reporters at the National Governors Association on Saturday, Christie labeled Obamacare, the administration’s signature legislation, a “failure on a whole number of levels” and said it should be repealed.
“But has to be repeal and replace with what. It can’t just be about repeal,” Christie told the audience. “What I’ve said before is, what Republicans need to be doing is putting forth alternatives for what should be a better healthcare system.”
This, of course, in spite of a number of news stories that have put Republicans on the defensive about Obamacare, including the fact that the percentage of Americans who are uninsured has dropped to an all-time low.
And at a time when many Republican governors like Scott Walker are dialing back on their overt opposition to marriage equality, Christie is doubling down:
He also urged his GOP colleagues to keep bringing up their opposition to same-sex marriage, even though a series of court decisions have overturned many statewide gay marriage bans. “I don’t think there’s some referee who stands up and says, ‘OK, now it’s time for you to change your opinion,’” according to Christie.
As with the bridge scandal, Chris Christie increasingly seems to be building his brand as the last guy on the block to know what’s going on. But the Republican base has shown that it most appreciates candidates who most infuriate the left, not the ones who best understand the changing electorate. So it may just redound to Christie’s benefit.
By: David Atkins, Washington Monthly Political Animal, July 13, 2014
When George W. Bush was inaugurated president of the United States on January 20, 2001, the unemployment rate stood at 2.4 percent. By the time Dubya completed his second term in office on January 19, 2009, the unemployment rate at risen to 7 percent. When Dubya took office in 2001, he was left with a budget surplus of $127.3 billion. When he completed his second term, he left a budget deficit of $1.4 trillion. The US national debt was $5.7 trillion on January 19, 2001. After eight years of Dubya, the debt was $10.6 trillion.
The US was at peace on January 20, 2001. After eight years of Dubya, the US was involved in two overseas wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that had cost US taxpayers nearly $1 trillion. The bigger of the two — Iraq — was launched based on mistaken, manipulated, or concocted information (or some combination of the three), and had resulted in the deaths of approximately 4,200 US military personnel and somewhere between 100,000 to 500,000 Iraqi civilians.
America’s image abroad took a serious plunge under Dubya, primarily because of Iraq. International surveys of tens of thousands of people taken by the Pew Research Center’s Pew Global Attitudes Project during those years consistently found extremely low opinions of Dubya and the US due to the war in Iraq, particularly among Muslims. The revelations of atrocities committed by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison and abuses by contracted security firms like Blackwater certainly didn’t help. Oh, and the little matter of holding prisoners at Guantanamo and… more torture.
Both wars were carried out in retaliation for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The attacks, which took place during Dubya’s first year, resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people and at least $10 billion in material damage.
A muscular foreign policy? Well, yeah… if you consider taking on third-rate powers like Iraq and Afghanistan “muscular.” Dubya couldn’t do much against Russia when it invaded Georgia in 2008, nor against Iran’s nuclear program. Also impotent to prevent the military rise of China. Some things just can’t be helped — not even if you’re a superpower.
The stock market? When Dubya took office in 2001, the Dow Jones stood at $10,587.59, the S&P 500 at $1,342.54, the NASDAQ at $2,770.38. Eight years later, the Dow was at $7,949.09, the S&P at $805.22, and the NASDAQ at $1,440.86. Those represented drops of 25 percent, 40 percent, and 48 percent, respectively.
The Great Recession in the US, which occurred during Dubya’s seventh and eighth years (2007-2008) in office, triggered a worldwide financial crisis — the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and resulted in the collapse of numerous large financial firms in the US and around the world. It threatened the very viability of the international financial system.
During Dubya’s seventh and eighth years, Americans lost a total of $16.4 trillion in household wealth. In 2008 alone — Dubya’s last year — more than 1 million Americans lost their homes, and the foreclosure process had begun on another 2 million Americans.
Health care costs? Under the Dubya years, health insurance premiums doubled. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average cost of employer-sponsored premiums for a family of four was $6,000 per year in January 2001. Eight years later, the average cost had risen to $12,680. It’s no wonder that the number of Americans with healthcare insurance dropped by 7.9 million under Dubya. Some 13.7 percent of Americans were uninsured in January 2001. Eight years later, the figure had risen to 15.4 percent.
Oh, Americans have such short memories — made only worse by how pathetically poor many choose to be informed. This is perhaps best reflected in the immensely entertaining poll recently taken by Quinnipiac University on June 24-30. The poll surveyed 1,446 people and asked them to rate US presidents since World War II. The result? Barack Obama was found to be the worst president since WWII. Right.
It brings to mind a gag quote I found online a couple of years ago. It was accompanied by a photo of Dubya. Went like this: “I screwed you all. But thanks for blaming it on the black guy.”
Bill Clinton perhaps put it best when he described the Republican Party’s position toward Obama: “We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.”
By: Marco Caceres, The Huffington Post Blog, July 8, 2014