Friday, April 24, 2015

The Obamacare Blind Alley

Well, Maybe Tyrannical Jobs . . .
This summer the Supreme Court is going to rule on whether the federal subsidies that keep Obamacare affordable will be granted to states which have not set up a state exchange. If SCOTUS rules in favor of the government, all proceeds as normal. If not? Well, it's a devastating wound that gives Republicans a near final chance to kill it.

Or does it?

Senate GOP leaders are endorsing a bill to extend the subsidies to 2017 regardless of what happens with the courts--because the specter of millions of people suddenly losing insurance for [ whatever reason ] seems kind of ugly in the face of an on-rushing national election. Now, we all agree that it would be foolish to think that voters would blame Republicans for the strike-down of the bill. After all, no Republican voted for it--or had a hand in drafting it.

The court-case that brought the issue to the Supreme Court? Well, it wasn't done by the RNC, was it? Republicans are just totally by-standers watching this unfold with nary a dog in the fight, right? Right? Is this thing on? Of course savvy observers have noticed that somehow things like the ~50 votes to repeal Obamacare by the GOP, promises to get rid of it, and other court-cases which were avidly promoted by Republicans seem to somehow have tarred the GOP with being a force behind the current attempt.

It's totally unfair to stick them with it--but some people think that's how it just might play out.

And if voters who like their healthcare saw Republicans as the people who took it away? They might--might possibly--vote against them. Now, even worse, these selfish people might also have loved ones (if a healthcare parasite can truly be said to have anyone who loves them)--and those people could possibly betray their nation and vote against Republicans too.

This is totally unfair.

But it could happen.

Now, admittedly, most right-thinking Republicans are flummoxed by this. After all, the disaster that is Obamacare has been well documented. For one thing, it's NOT lowering the number of uninsured people:
And Who Trusts Gallup, Anyway?
For another thing, coverage is NOT the same as healthcare: most people on Obamacare can't even get to see a doctor. Before Obamacare, a person who was sick might have a wait-time of mere minutes--well, a few hours at most--in an emergency room. But now? The lines are down the block--like for Jaws. People with Obamacare--seriously sick people--have to camp outside like yuppies trying to buy an Apple Watch. Check this out:
They'll Mostly Be Dead by Death Panels By The Time They Get In There Anyway
And for those of us who aren't on Obamacare? Our premiums have surged--just like we were warned they would. Look at this chart showing how healthcare costs have increased since Obamacare was passed:
In 1999 Obama Destroyed The Healthcare Industry
So it's hard to see how anything this unpopular could be a political liability. Ever since it passed it's just gotten less and less popular. The graph looks like this:
When Those Streams Cross, It's Gonna Be Like Ghostbusters ...
So it's really, really difficult to see what Senate Republicans are so scared of.

A Canary In The Coal Mine: James Web And The Hillary Reversal
James Web of the YouTube channel Hot Lead Retired about his love of shooting guns. He's a life-long Republican and self-described hillbilly. He's pushing 50 and took a job that gave him a retirement package at that time so, after serving his 35 years, he could enjoy life. It sounds like a good plan--kinda--but a few days ago he unleashed released a video a few days ago saying he might . . . might . . . vote for Hillary in 2016.


Well, it turns out: she probably won't repeal Obamacare and so he won't have to go back to work for 15 years to keep his healthcare. This selfish perspective brought down a torrent of outrage from former allies and some slaps on the back--and some sneering--from former enemies. He recanted--apparently he'll vote 'R' and stop being a leech on our great nation--but he's still getting hate mail which he reads on YouTube.

Now Webb is an isolated incident--probably a brutally small minority: after all, most people in Republican states aren't getting Obamacare subsidies . . . Well, wait--actually, the opposite is true. Most red states didn't create their own exchanges. That's kind of weird.

What Happens Next?
The GOP move for preemptive damage control is a rational one--but it could not be more poorly timed. For an electoral base which has been promised again and again (and again--oh, baby) that there will be a full repeal, making moves to "extend" the subsidies in the face of a potential SCOTUS victory seems like not just snatching defeat from the jaws of victory but actually moving to prop open those jaws so they can't close in the first place: it's throwing the game.

And remember how the government shutdown was "delayed" with the "wait until we win the Senate" excuse? Yeah: the GOP won the Senate and then . . . no shutdown: Amnesty continued (or would have, if not for that meddling activist judge). In short, the temporary fix isn't all that convincing.

This is all, of course, because the GOP has never met a blind-alley of partisan politics it didn't like. The need to fight--to fight Obama--is paramount--above any actual policy or outcome concerns. When your highest order is to battle, you are necessarily going to get into fights you can't win.

This is one of them.


  1. This is where you end up when emotion and belief trump logic and evidence.

    1. While we have to be careful with generalizations, the fact that the GOP "getting what it wants" (a SCOTUS ruling against Obamacare) could be a worst-case scenario is a sign that things are out of whack.

      -The Omnivore

    2. The ACA, like Social Security, is a horrible partisan mess. But millions of people also depend on it, and it's also well on its way to hardening into permanence to the point where tinkering with it becomes so politically radioactive that no politician can survive even suggesting it.

      As you say, if anyone but the Democrats themselves end up destroying Obamacare (they would have to be insane to do this, but you never know), the Republicans - right or wrong - will get blamed for it. A worst-case scenario indeed; if they weren't such utter fools, they'd be doing their level best to protect the ACA instead - even though it totally sucks, for all the wrong reasons. What irony!

      -- Ω

  2. Dozens of attempts to de-fund, repeal, or limit participation in the ACA. Is there any discussion about the - apparently cynical - basis of those decisions? Is Krugman the only real staff-bearer for the success of the program (Omnivore aside)? There needs to be bright light shed on the fact that those politicians relentlessly decrying the legislation were either incredibly wrong, did not have the public good in mind, or both.

    1. Firstly, let's be careful about our terms: Social Security has "succeeded" by any stretch of reasonableness--but you can still (easily) find hard-liners who describe it as a Ponzi Scheme and think it must be dramatically altered or even repealed. The success of Obamacare (or not) will likely depend on:
      1. The 2016 election: If Walker wins there is a good chance it'll go away.
      2. The SCOTUS decision this summer. While most roads lead to OCare remaining, if ruled against, there will be a window to kill it the GOP might be able to capitalize on.
      3. The millions of "standard-bearers" who buy the insurance and use it.

      Now, my 'store-bought' executive level insurance has a 4k deductible so, uhm, does it suck? It's a complicated question. What I think is clear is that in a time of unprecedented political polarization and a time of what I believe is historic levels of opposition, Obamacare has managed to establish a beachhead in terms of *engagement* with the population.

      Notably: it seems to be serving a purpose people (generally) seem to like and some of the more obvious objections haven't panned out. Resultantly, getting rid of it is now a Gordian knot and there isn't going to be simple solution of just waving the "go away Obamacare wand" that some GOP reps were hoping for.

      I think that's actually a success in a lot of respects.
      -The Omnivore