Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trashing "Obamacare"

As it deliberates constitutional issues posed by “Obamacare,” the U.S. Supreme Court probably is using the proper name for the health insurance reform act, but no one else is. I'm not even sure what it is.

As children, we taunted verbal attackers with the chant: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  The sentiment was laudable, but the truth was questionable.  Words can hurt a lot.  Words intended to hurt a lot also can backfire.

Consider the “Cheesehead” label hung as an insult on Wisconsin football fans some years ago by rival team backers.  Rather than hunkering down and trying to ignore the name hoping it would go away, Wisconsinites enthusiastically adopted it. Now strange cheesy hats and slogans abound. Residents of the Dairy State are proud to proclaim themselves Cheeseheads.

“Obamacare,” coined by right-wing media, was embraced by Republican strategists as a derisive term they thought surely would help them gain followers as they try to overturn the administration’s health care reforms.  It’s not working quite that way.
Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) attacks Obamacare. Was that a mistake? (Wilson/Getty Images)

One of the Democratic Party’s chief strategists, David Axelrod, recently said, “Hell yeah, I’m for Obamacare.” He said that when stating his belief that millions of people will become strong supporters of the new health care provisions once they all go into effect and are fully understood.

Like Axelrod, many rank-and-file Democrats are starting to use the Republican term, proclaiming at every opportunity they are proud Obamacare fans.

Anti-Obamacare T-shirts have been around for a while. Pro-Obamacare T-shirts are on the horizon. Obamacare headgear?  That may be a difficult design problem.

The elevation of Obamacare to the Supreme Court caused many Americans who previously were uninformed about the provisions of the law to become aware of the benefits. We’ll have to wait until June or July to learn whether the court approves or strikes down the law or its key parts.  Some Democrats smell a political win no matter how the decision goes.

The court consists of five members who usually lean in Republican directions and four who tend to favor Democratic Party positions.  If the court scraps Obamacare, Democrats believe they will be handed a winner in the presidential election campaign as they blame Republicans for stripping away health benefits for millions who need a guaranteed way to get insurance.  If the court allows Obamacare to stand, the Demos will claim that the GOP’s most erudite adherents backed the Democrat’s health care plan when it was thoroughly examined at the highest level.

Which T-shirt will you be wearing?


Kay said...

We are so upset each night to hear how the Court is deciding along party lines. At least Justice Ginsburg is saying we should salvage the bill. We NEED something! Doesn't everybody realize that? We can call it Obamacare or just US Healthcare for Everybody. Call it whatever you like, but get some kind of health care reform started!

Kay said...

Ummm... I don't suppose it was the Bears fans who came up with the Cheesehead moniker? Ooops!

schmidleysscribblins, said...

Some thoughts to ponder:

Obama calls the AHCA Obamacare.

Dems claim the law is based on Republican (Mitt Romney and others) ideas.

Why did Pelosi exclude Republicans from the decision-making process when the law was passed? The Republicans had some good ideas.

What did the Dems expect would happen when so many constituents dislike the law?

PLenty of far-left people hate the law because it does not include the single-payer provision.

Isn't it just as bad for the "Liberal" Justices to vote together?

What happens if the Court goes the other way? Will all the TV pundits trashing the Court take back their venomous comments?

Who picks up the tab if the law is "salvaged"? (Didn't you complain about taxes recently?)

Medicaid would cover the truly poor. HOwever, 27 state attorneys-general have filed against the law because of the expansion of Meicaid(including VA).

Studies show that the inclusion of the non-insured has done little to improve the health situation in Mass. The uninsured are mostly between the ages of 18-34 or were and don't get sick as often as older folks.

The costs of kids on parents plans should be borne by the parents and parents employers via their health insurance premiums, not taxpayers.

This is a complicated subject, and trashing the High Court is not good (and, I am not saying you do this, however, some left leaning types have been doing this and it is irresponsible. They are not a political body.).

I don't like many things the Supreme Court has done, including Bush vs Gore, but I don't trash the deciders. I tell both left and right wingers this. We live under the rule of law, not chaos. My 2 cents


Dick Klade said...

Wow, Dianne, lots to ponder. I'll take a shot at it.

1. Didn't know Obama was using the term, only that other Demos are. His use supports the point of my post that those who once considered the name "Obamacare" distasteful now are wearing it as a badge of honor.

2. The Massachusetts law that is very similar to "Obamacare" was passed by two houses of the legislature controlled by Democrats, and approved by Republican Governor Romney. Anyone claiming "Obamacare" is strictly a Republican idea is reaching a long way.

3. It is absurd to contend that Republicans were shut out of the decision-making process. They, as well as Democrats, serve on the committees the bill had to pass through and also were able to debate points when the bill reached the House and Senate floors. Republicans also had as much access to speak through the media as Democrats did. They had plenty of opportunities to have their ideas heard.

4. I don't think the Democrats really expected so much opposition to the act. I think they've been surprised by it.

5. I know lots of far-left and more moderate lefties. Some are critical of Obama for what they consider caving in to Republican and insurance industry positions to get a compromise act through. Others see Obamacare as all that was politically possible, and believe it is a major step forward toward more desirable universal care.

6. Block voting in any context brings up a good philosophical question. Was it bad that many conservative Catholics voted for Kennedy simply because he shared their religion? Is it bad that just about every Mormon in the U.S. will vote for Romney in November? I think it is bad if the liberal or conservative justices vote as a block and don't do their best to be objective about the legal issues at hand. Let us hope they will be professional.

7. Yep, far-lefties are unhappy that their goal of a single-payer system wasn't achieved. Others, including me, are also unhappy about that, but perhaps for a somewhat different reason. I don't think universal health care is sustainable financially without cutting the vast insurance company profits and control out of the picture.

8. I don't depend on TV pundits for my news, so haven't heard "venomous comments" about the court. It is an American right to criticize our governmental institutions, and there's nothing within that right that limits venom. Personally, I would like to see public debates conducted on a much higher plane. Calling women who use birth control "sluts," for example is not a laudable practice. What are the pundits calling the Supreme Court justices?

9. I don't think I've ever complained about taxes that are reasonable and fair. See earlier remark: I think we'll need a lot of big tax adjustments if the law stands as it is written now, but remember that every law can be modified after we gain experience with it. This one surely will be if it stands.

10. Medicare should cover all the truly poor. How many of those 27 AGs are Republicans? Is their appeal based more on partisan politics than a desire to do good for our society? What kind of society turns away from the true needs of the least among us?

11. "Romneycare" improved coverage by only about five percent because Massachusetts already had one of the highest rates of private health insurance in the U.S. It's virtually impossible to pay for universal health care if the young and healthy are left out of the system.

12. Agree we should respect the court as an institution. However, we should continue to exercise our right to criticize actions by the court when we believe they are wrong-headed.

Thanks for the points to ponder. Americans have been wrestling with this issue for a long time, and we probably will continue to do so far into the future.

schmidleysscribblins, said...

Hi Dick, just wanted you to know that I came back and read your remarks. I have only responded to a couple of points below.

3. Republicans say they were shut out of the process and voted unanimously against the law. That might be an absurd claim, but they were the minority Party at the time and the majority Democrats could and did shut down discussion in the committee hearings I listened to on C-Span. One thing the Republicans wanted was tort reform, which as you probably know is associated with frivolous law suits and physician insurance. Another had to do with Interstate Insurance pools. Neither were included in the final passage of the law. the proof is in the pudding, however. If Dems claim the ideas in Obamacare were Republican ideas, who am I to doubt them?

4. Screaming constutents at town hall meetings and the election of Scott Brown should have been a clue to Democrats that many folks disagreed with the law.

Also, the rise of the Tea Party and sound defeat of Democrats in 2010 was another clue.

If Obamacare is found unconstitutional, the Republicans will lose an issue in the coming election.

5. I hate it when "compromise" is seen as caving in. That's what's wrong in Washington. I don't blame the Representatives, I blame the people who send them to Washington. Sadly, the country is divided and Congresspeople represent their constituents.

Why is "universal care" a desire and of whom? Most of those who need help are covered by insurance or social programs. I would name them but you probably know about the bulk of them, CHIP, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.

Young able bodied kids between 18 and 34 are the bulk of the uninsured. I hope the provision to insure kids to age 26 is upheld, but I think parents should pay the premium (or employers, or both).

schmidleysscribblins, said...

6. Block voting - I worked in Kennedy's campaign, but was not yet 21, so I couldn't vote. Over my lifetime I have met plenty of Catholic people who did not vote for him. Most folks don't realize how conservative he was.

8. Pundits - I listen to few if any pundits, mostly for amusement. James Carvelle is one of them. I do read opinion columns from both the left and right in various newspapers and magazines. I like to stay informed. I also read everything I can about an issue I am interested in. As a Demographer, health care has been a life long interest for me.

As for "Slut" yes, there have been similar comments about the justices. And as you may have heard Sarah Palin and Anne Coulter have been called similar things by lefties. Its digusting whoever does it. I have not heard a single Conservative defend Rush, but I have heard people on the left and right defend his right to free speech. Bill Maher is such a leftie, i.e. he defended Rush's right to be crude on the air. BTW, Rush is a Libertarian, not a Republican or so he says. I don't listen to him, but David does in the car radio. I don't allow it in the house.

9. Taxes - I support Simpson-Bowles.

10. Did you mean Medicaid? It covers those who incomes fall below a certain (poverty) threshhold as it has for many years. All my granddaughters were covered by Medicaid during their younger years. S-CHIP covers all the children not covered by Medicaid. Medicare covers those on disability as well as seniors.

11. I don't disagree, but can the government now force people to buy health insurance?

Dick Klade said...

10. I did mean medicaid. Thanks.

Sightings said...

I wish I knew what Obamacare does and doesn't do. I've never seen a succinct summary of the benefits and costs.

I know it requires ins. companies to allow 20-somethings to stay on their parents' plans. Presumably it will cover lots of the uninsured. The ins. companies will not be able to drop coverage for people who get sick. All good things.

But will it fix the current problem that it's difficult for individuals to get coverage at any price? Will it equalize the tax deductibility of med. insurance?

And most important: How much will it cost people who already have, and pay for, insurance? A lot of us are already stretched to the limit to pay for med. insurance and we're afraid our premiums will go way up in order to expand coverage. In my opinion, the Democrats have not honestly addressed the cost issue, and so a lot of people are skeptical.

I'm in favor of national heath insurance, in principle. But the devil's in the details. Do you know a website or other source that explains the new law, and the pros and cons, in a dispassionate and truthful way?

Dick Klade said...

Unfortunately, Tom, the size (2,700 pages) and complexity of the law defy attempts to create concise summaries. Most of the Internet discussions claiming to present the "facts" are slanted one way or the other.

I think that old standby Wikipedia has the best summary material. It lists the many provisions point-by-point without comment. The costs are shown with comments by proponents and detractors, because they all depend on forecasts anyway, and that's the only fair way to do it.

Hughes ap Williams said...

I said before that I don't understand why the Obama Administration doesn't embrace the Obamacare label...what is the matter with caring?

I suggested "Obama Cares" or "ObamaCares".