Saturday, April 12, 2014

Republicans On Obamacare: Rooting For Failure, And Losing

Here's some worthwhile Saturday morning reading on the consequences of Republicans' nihilistic approach to affordable health care (actually, government in general), and how they've painted themselves into (another) corner because of a selfish, ideology-based refusal to accept reality.

From Brian Beutler:
The Affordable Care Act's enrollment comeback has confounded conservatives in many ways. The realization that there happens to be popular demand for something as self-evidently grotesque as Obamacare has given rise to a palpable cognitive dissonance on the right. A growing recognition among Republicans that they can't bank on organizing the midterm campaign around relentless Obamacare opposition has party elders looking at contingency plans (even if they haven't exactly gone back to the drawing board). 
But most importantly, it has thrown the conservative health policy community for a loop, and completely wrong-footed Republicans in Congress who were hoping -- against considerable odds and a well-worn historical pattern -- to craft an Obamacare alternative that both passes the laugh test and doesn't create a significantly lower level of welfare. If enrollment had sputtered, that task would have been considerably easier. The fact it surged in March, and continues to grow today, measurably limits their options.  (our emphasis)
From Greg Sargent:
Last fall, as the law got underway and as the website then crashed, the Republican position was essentially that the law was fatally flawed (nobody wanted it, supposedly) and thus would inevitably fail to fulfill its own goals. Now that the law has hit enrollment targets, and evidence comes in that it is for now on track, the Republican position is that the law is a failure even if it is more or less doing what it was designed to do — cover a lot more people. Indeed, one way to describe the GOP position is that Republicans think the law is an inherent failure precisely because it is doing what it was designed to do. 
The Republican position — that the law can’t work by definition – is essentially an admission that Republicans simply don’t support doing what Obamacare sets out to do: Expand coverage to the number of people the law hopes to cover, through a combination of increased government oversight over the health system and — yep — spending money. The GOP focus on only those being negatively impacted by the law, and the aggressive hyping of cancellations into “millions” of full blown “horror stories” – combined with the steadfast refusal to acknowledge the very existence of the law’s beneficiaries — is, at bottom, just another way to fudge the actual GOP position: Flat out opposition to doing what it takes to expand health care to lots and lots of people.  (our emphasis)
The Republican id:  lack of empathy for others.  We see it in the right's inability to relate to affordable health care for others, income inequality, voting rights for minorities, women's reproductive rights, and on and on.  Last August, Sean McElwee posted an article on the Republican empathy void.  Here's his conclusion:
Most social phenomenons can't be pegged to a single event. But the Republican Party's shift from empathy to disgust and from viewing government as a force for good to a necessary evil, although developing for a long time, is aptly summarized in two lines from Ronald Reagan's "A Time for Choosing" speech. The great orator said, "Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we're told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than 3,000 dollars a year." This was much more radical then than it seems now. Poverty, had for decades been, "not a trait of character," but rather something,  "created anew in each generation, but not by heredity but by circumstances." Now it was a choice, not something to war against, but something to mock. As Noam Chomsky noted, some victims are considered "worthy" and others "unworthy." With those simple words, Reagan created a large class of "unworthy" victims that do not deserve our help or empathy. Government, he decided could not help them. Is it any wonder that inequality began its increase under Reagan and has spiraled out of control ever since?  (our emphasis)
Of course, this Republican id existed before St. Ronnie of Hollywood put a happy face on it.  It goes back before Father Coughlin, Ayn Rand, the John Birchers (hello, Daddy Koch!), Robert Taft, and Barry Goldwater.

In historical terms, there is no greater oxymoron than "compassionate conservative."

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