Friday, December 2, 2016

Going Over A Cliff



A few years ago, there was this thing in the US federal government called the fiscal cliff. Basically, this referred to what would happen to the federal budget if Congress did nothing. Once you reach a date where a current budget deal expires and there is no new deal in place to replace it, there are no plans for spending or raising revenue. It's like going over a cliff: all the consequences are bad ones. Even if someone throws you a rope, you're liable to painfully wrench your arm out of its socket or sustain some other injury. 

Republicans pushed the government over the cliff a few years back with the shut down of the government when the hard right Tea Party movement with encouragement from Sen. Ted Cruz (the lying fuck bastard!) dug in its heels and refused to accept any budget deal that President Obama wanted. Finally a deal was struck that nobody liked. Someone threw a rope and the government didn't crash into the ground. But there was still hurt in the form of millions of dollars of expenses incurred as a result of the shut down and a subsequent downgrading of America's credit rating. 

Once more the Republicans in control of the House and the Senate and the Presidency are aiming for the cliff once more, this time looking to watch Obamacare going sailing into oblivion. 

One oft repeated refrain of the Republican Party since the passage of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare was to repeal the act and replace it with something else. The replace part of that was pretty much an after thought; mainly it was just about putting a stake through the heart of Obama's signature legislative achievement. As I have noted in this blog several times, the Republican strategy since Obama's first day in office is, "If Obama wants it, the answer is no."  

Several attempts have been made to repeal Obamacare but all have failed. But now the next man in the White House is a Republican who made it an oft repeated mantra that Obamacare should be repealed so House and Senate Republicans have no excuse but to successfully destroy the hated Obamacare. 

Except the Republicans have run into a bit of a problem: people like Obamacare. 

OK, they like certain things that go with Obamacare. 20 million people who couldn't get health insurance now have coverage. People can't be denied for pre-existing conditions. Young adults can stay on their parents' plans longer.  Out-of-pocket costs for many preventive services such as cancer screenings  have been eliminated. States who have chosen to participate in Obamacare's Medicare expansion have seen health care costs contained or even reduced. 

No, it is not a perfect plan and there is a great deal about the health care act that needs fixing to make it better, more efficient and less of a burden. But the Republicans have spent a lot of time, energy and money on the idea that Obamacare is evil and must be destroyed. They've got a ton of Trump supporters who are expecting Republicans to do what they always promised they would do: repeal Obamacare. So by God, that is what they're going to do. It's like item #1 on the agenda for January 21st, 2017, the day after Trump's inauguration. 

But a recent survey by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 80% of Americans don't really want that to happen. 

What to do,what to do, what to do. 

Answer: drive towards a cliff.  

More specifically: vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act now but not make the actual repeal of the act effective for another 3 years. This will provide time to for the Republicans to actually develop an alternative to replace it with.  

Except...

Republicans have had years to develop a replacement program but have failed to produce anything of substance. And with the existing plan repealed before a replacement is ready, insurers are not going to have a lot of incentive to stick around supporting a dead health care plan so the inherent flaws become more pronounced and so...

ZOOM! And over a cliff it goes.

And with it go all the parts the American people are actually cool with and didn't want to lose.  

Even Jan Brewer, former Republican governor of Arizona and a staunch Obama critic, has noted that Obamacare has been a positive for the state and that a repeal of the Act would do more harm than good for Arizona. 

Kentucky's Kynect, a beneficiary of Obamacare's Medicare expansion provision, is a successful and popular health coverage program that will be gutted by a repeal of Obamacare. 

By the way, these are both states that Trump carried handily on November 8th.  

But the whole kerfluffle over Obamacare has never truly been about health care reform policy but more about political power, specifically the Republicans building power at the expense of President Obama and the Democrats. The incessant drumbeat of resisting everything single thing Obama wanted has painted these conservative ideologues into a corner, forced now to commit action to their words and eviscerate a program that for all its flaws, and there are many, still helps millions of people in this country. Before, it was easy to flog that particular horse as long as a Democrat was in the White House to veto the worst excesses of repeal efforts. But soon, those efforts are going to have a friend in the Oval Office. And now the Republican Party is like the dog who chased cars and finally caught one: 


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Before I wrap up today's post, just a heads up that today is the last current events type write up I'll be posting for awhile. I've got a big project that's going to take up a lot of time and space in my life for the next week. As I have done in the past when I'm going to be away from the blog for an extended period of time, I have some posts already prepped and ready to load while I am away. And in case you're wondering, these blurbs that have been appearing on the blog for the past few days...
















...are related to that. 

I'll have more about this as of tomorrow's post. Until next time, remember to be good to one another.

Dave-El

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