Better-informed people on the right seem, finally, to be facing up to a horrible truth: Health care reform, President Obama’s signature policy achievement, is probably going to work.Which of course is why Republicans are desperately trying to block it from going into effect. Because,
Successful health reform wouldn’t just be a victory for a president conservatives loathe, it would be an object demonstration of the falseness of right-wing ideology. So Republicans are being driven into a last, desperate effort to head this thing off at the pass.That is the main idea Paul Krugman explores in his New York Times column today. It is an idea he has broached before, in his blog, as I wrote about here 9 days ago. But the blog post was a brief exploration of the topic that Krugman more thoroughly explores this morning.
Please keep reading.
Krugman reminds us of the three simple ideas upon which the Affordable Care Act is based:
1. All Americans, even those with pre-existing conditions, should have access to affordable health insurance
2. All Americans, even those currently healthy, should be required (or induced) to buy insurance to spread the risks as broadly as possible to keep the costs reasonable
3. There should be subsidiess to prevent the "mandate" from becoming too onerous, so that the cost of premiums as a share of income can be held down.
As to whether this approach can work, despite the Republican predictions that it will fail, we of course have the example of Romneycare in Massachusetts (based, I remind people, largely on a proposal from the Right-leaning Heritage Foundation). Krugman then explores whether larger starters with significant numbers of uninsured can duplicate what happened in the Bay State.
The answer to this question depends, in the first place, on whether insurance companies are willing to offer coverage at reasonable rates. And the answer, so far, is a clear “yes.” In California, insurers came in with bids running significantly below expectations; in New York, it appears that premiums will be cut roughly in half.apologies, but the latter link counts against your monthly quota from the NYTimes, so you might not be able to see it.
Krugman offers two paragraphs that frame the issue succinctly. In the first he writes
Over all, then, health reform will help millions of Americans who were previously either too sick or too poor to get the coverage they needed, and also offer a great deal of reassurance to millions more who currently have insurance but fear losing it; it will provide these benefits at the expense of a much smaller number of other Americans, mostly the very well off. It is, if you like, a plan to comfort the afflicted while (slightly) afflicting the comfortable.So far the American people do not yet fully grasp that the vast majority of them will be better off with respect to medical insurance without being hit directly financially by the cost of premiums. A small number of better off Americans will wind up paying somewhat more. If the American people understand this, attempting to sabotage Obamacare will have serious political implications for Republicans.
There is also another problem for the GOP:
And the prospect that such a plan might succeed is anathema to a party whose whole philosophy is built around doing just the opposite, of taking from the “takers” and giving to the “job creators,” known to the rest of us as the “rich.” Hence the brinkmanship.Krugman is very blunt about that philosophy, but then, we can remember a certain presidential candidate who complained about he 47% who are takers.
brinkmanship - the willingness of the Republicans, particularly among their tea party caucus members in the House, to risk shutting down the government and crashing the economy in order to prevent the success of Obamacare,
when their own leaders have admitted that confrontations over the budget inflict substantial harm on the economy.It will not be because of fear of what is now a rapidly falling budget deficit.
Nor, Krugman opines, will it be because they true believe that the slashing of federal spending will actually lead to increased prosperity.
No, Republicans may be willing to risk economic and financial crisis solely in order to deny essential health care and financial security to millions of their fellow Americans. Let’s hear it for their noble cause!Let me if I may explain just a bit what that noble cause is, paraphrasing well-known words of the first (and greatest) Republican President:
Government of the wealthy, by the Republicans, for the corporations
Anything that might threaten that paradigm is to be fought fiercely
- that includes suppressing the votes of those who might vote for a different paradigm
- that means fomenting fear and hatred on issues like guns in order to gin up an angry mob to vote against their own economic interests
- that includes gerrymandering to minimize the impact of votes of the masses of people who either do not agree with their paradigm or who may not be able to be misled by the promotion of fear and hatred
It is the mentality of the American Colonel who said in Vietnam that in order to save the village we had to destroy it.
It is the petulance of the child who if he can't have his way wants to take the ball and go home, even if someone else brought the ball.
If you wonder why the House Republicans have now voted almost 40 times to try to kill Obamacare, it is because if it succeeds, not only will they not be able to roll it back, but it also undercuts any arguments about the other social programs that for half a century or more they have tried to kill - Medicare, Medicaid and most of all Social Security.
Panic is the right words to describe Republican actions towards Obamacare.
Petulance is another appropriate description.
Which is why the White House and the Democrats have to hold firm
- for the health (physical and economic) of the American people
- for the future (economic and political) of the United States.