Repeal and replace Obamacare is not about healthcare. Rather GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with some other healthcare package provides camouflage for drastically different views on the role of government. Obamacare’s fiercest opponents care nothing about healthcare but get up each morning dedicated to ending any and all entitlements and reducing federal government spending to defense and a handful of other functions such that income taxes vanish and any remaining taxes become flat taxes.
Sure, and the first paragraph is intended to get the readers attention. The Trump crowd and at least one half of Congressional Republicans are zealously working to truly shrink the Federal Government and in the process liberate the tax responsibility from America’s most well off. Far from a noble goal, the small government advocates are totally self serving.
How is such a caper possible?
Over a sustained period of time, “limited government” groups (like Koch funded ones) have worked at the grass root, State level and succeeded in gerrymandering enough districts to increase control at the State level and then applied this advantage to House of Representative seats. By selecting various freedom and religious sounding issues, hand picked candidates have been elected without ever declaring these elected officials were surrogates for the “no tax” champions.
Amazingly, the limited government folks who hyperventilated about how many government agencies exist or how many federal regulations were being generated, were really aiming at sharply reducing entitlements and in the process eliminating Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (the size of government was really about government expenditures and the taxes which would be necessary to balance the budget).
For the religious base, there was pandering on issues such as abortion, family planning, and school vouchers. Conservative politicians believed (correctly) that most of these self proclaimed religious voters were in fact tribal in nature and would follow whatever their “chief” (for example religious leader) proposed, and if done skillfully this meant more votes for conservative office holders, regardless of whether the ultimate blow back was morally offensive or otherwise damaging to this block.
Most Americans do not support either Donald Trump’s or the conservative Republican Congressional majority’s goal of small government. Most Americans rather support the role of government and seek a well working set of federal agencies. Regretfully, most Americans have been disillusioned over the efficacy of the Federal Government and the true intentions of elected Congress members. Following 8 years of “just say no”, including government shutdowns, the public is understandably suspect of Government. Crippling Obamacare is just another step in discrediting government.
Repeal and replace could be a place to begin voter wake-up. Americans must smell the coffee and realize that under the Republican plan, employers no longer need to provide healthcare insurance to their employees. What will happen when Wall Street’s demand for earnings persuades some employers to drop coverage and pass the savings onto investors?
Those previously recipients of employer provided healthcare insurance will now get to experience the joys of a “free market” which is not very free.
Or, what will older Americans do when their premiums cost 5 times what a younger American pays and there is no government subsidy? Tax credits as proposed fall well below Obamacare subsidies. Hmmm.
And, the elimination of the 3.8% Obamacare tax on investments will put a nice piece of change in the pockets of the very well to do while the less well off struggle to meet the higher cost of healthcare insurance.
There is a higher level of thinking about healthcare than just Obamacare. Begin with the notion of two children, one from a wealthy family and one from a very poor one. Should a country which claims to be the greatest in the world, allow the child of the poor family to not receive the same basic healthcare as the rich one?
What about someone who experiences devastating illnesses (for example diabetes). Should this person be denied life saving medications because these doctors and drugs cost too much? And what about an average middle class family whose bread winner is suddenly laid off and is unable to find work (especially work with healthcare), should the children (not to mention the adults) be denied healthcare services over the lack of affordable premiums?
If one does not see healthcare as a “right”, there is not much more to say. One could say look around the world to modern countries like Germany, France, Sweden, Japan, or Canada (to name a few) and ask the question, why do these countries provide basic healthcare to all their residents and how can they afford it when Americans are being told healthcare is too expensive?
For most Americans who do not see healthcare as a right, the answer too often comes to “I can buy my own insurance, so should you” or “I get my coverage through my employer… so these people without should just get a job”. Hmmm.
Small government advocates see Obamacare as an inconvenient obstacle in their crusade for lower (especially progressive) taxes. They will surround the replace debate with words of more choice, patient centered, and getting government out from being between you and your doctor. These emotional terms are intended to neutralize opposition and keep the discussion away from taxes. Why?
There are no free lunches. Healthcare must be paid for in some manner. There are better methods than Obamacare but strangely Obamacare has insured more people and better controlled the overall healthcare cost than any previous plan. A universal, single payer system is the answer the rest of the world has settled upon and most of these healthcare systems utilize a national sales tax (or VAT). Instead in the US, business (which bare most of the healthcare cost burden) build healthcare cost into the price of the products they sell making these products immediately less competitive (especially on the world market) than they need to be. Hmmm.
At the end of the day, the debate around Obamacare is just about a step in the process to significantly reduce how much tax wealthy Americans pay. Americans, for their own wellbeing need to look around, see how others treat healthcare, and hold their Congress member accountable should healthcare take a step backwards.