There’s been lots of hot air on the topic of the Affordable Care Act (ACA – or Obamacare for those simple GOP folk who don’t already know they’re the same thing). The latest barricade errected against Obamacare by the GOP was a vote in the House last week that attached provisions to defund the ACA to a budgetary spending measure that would keep the government running. It takes Missouri’s own Rep. Billly Long (R-7), though, to sum up the two years of blather that have culminatead in this DOA gambit in four sentences (h/t the The Turner Report).
“When traveling my district I continue to hear from business owners and citizens who are burdened by this law and concerned about its impact on jobs.”
You can be forgiven if this blithe statement leaves you scratching your head and trying to figure out what Billy could possibly mean. After all, it’s hard for anybody, even folks who were willing to vote for Ozark Billy, to be burdened by a law that hasn’t, apart from a few peripheral provisions, taken effect. The parts of the ACA that are already in effect – such as no copays for preventive health care and no more lifetime limits under current insurance plans, expanded coverage for adult children under 26 – aren’t really much of a burden to anyone except possibly insurance companies – and given the yearly salaries of most insurance CEOs, they can’t be hurting them too badly.
The Obamacare as job-killer myth has also been laid to rest repeatedly. A new report for the Center for Economic and Policy Research concludes that “There is really no evidence that the ACA has had any noticeable impact on employment growth.” But don’t expect our Republican friends to pay any attention to facts when fabrications serve their purposes so much better.
“My colleagues and I in the House have repeatedly backed our words with actions when it comes to Obamacare through our votes and committee work.”
This sentence is where our man of the people pats himself on his GOP back. It’s probably safe to conclude that Billy is referring to the 42 votes to repeal Obamacare that have taken place in the House – despite the fact that everyone and their grandmother knew that none of these votes would ever go any further and were a complete waste of time – apart from keeping the gullible anti-Obamacare GOP base riled up.
“It is time for our colleagues in the Senate to back up their words with action when it comes to repealing Obamacare.”
Here Billy is asking the Senate to back up House Tea Partiers’ kamikaze fanasies about defunding Obamacare by refusing to pass contining budget resolutions or, down the line, refusing to raise the debt ceiling without anti-Obamacare language. Nevermind that nothing that has been proposed would necessarily halt Obamacare implementation – that ship has come and gone. The ACA could weather the government shutdown that would result from GOP hostage-taking tactics just fine. What would be hurt, though, would be significant swaths of vulnerable Americans, not to mention the country’s economic prospects. Want to kill job growth, shut down the government.
“I continue to believe the best course of action is to repeal this law and start from scratch.”
Feel like you’ve heard that before from more than one GOP mouthpiece? You have. And you and I already know just what starting “from scratch” means – the same ol’, same ol’ that we’ve heard from the GOP over the years: one-size-fits all tax credits, tort reform, buying insurance across state lines (while decimating consumer protections), high-risk pools:
… all the things that don’t actually don’t do anything to address the real problem in our health care system: the increasing, systemic cost of health care. But they don’t include any provision for lower-income people to purchase affordable insurance. They don’t include any of the popular Obamacare provisions, like young adults being able to stay on their parents’ plan or an end to lifetime limits on what insurance will pay.
So there you have it; GOP healthcare strategy in four pieces of lame boiler plate. But why are we being subjected to these efforts at self-justification in the wake of the GOP’s destructive, leave-no-hostages-alive vote last week? My impression of Billy Long is that he’s a go-along to get along kind of guy and right now the folks who reward him for going along are playing a dangerous game. Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas sum up the GOP’s motivation aptly:
There’s a cold logic behind the willingness of some conservatives to risk everything to stop Obamacare. But it’s not that Obamacare will fail. After all, if the law will just be a debacle, Republicans should let it take effect, ride the catastrophe to overwhelming victory in the 2014 midterms, and then use their massive congressional majorities to repeal it.
Rather, as E.J. Dionne writes, the real fear is that the law will succeed. Once Obamacare begins delivering health insurance to millions of Americans it will become effectively impossible to repeal. That’s what’s happened in every other country that’s introduced a national health-care system. That’s why the right needs to stop Obamacare before it begins.
Come 2016 (or maybe even by November 2014) when people are faced with hard evidence that Obamacare isn’t going to hurt at all, the characters who’ve been emitting all the high-pitched screams in order to incite the Tea Party mobs are going to look mighty stupid. So stupid that lots of voters might think twice about sending them back to Washington or Jefferson City.
Edited slightly for clarity; URL added in 4th from last paragraph.