Obamacare Reaches a Milestone? Blow Up the Road

The capstone to a half decade of reactionary hatred of Obamacare arrived when the program achieved its modest goal of signing up 7 million of the 40 million uninsured despite the best efforts of GOP members of congress and occupants of state houses, scary ads funded by plutocrats, and the right wing pundit brigade.

The Greek chorus of doom and denunciation achieved new levels of comic shrillness. “It’s a fraud. It’s bait and switch. The books are cooked. It’s the takers screwing the makers with socialism, income redistribution and budget busting deficits”. And yes, “let’s wait and see how many people actually pay for it?”

That last is what they call a “tell” in poker. To the Republicans everything comes down to money. Thus crocodile tears were shed for people not able to keep the lousy plans they had and forced to accept better ones. Freedom under threat again. But they presume many newly enrolled deadbeats won’t cough up premiums since they are poor. Concern for them? Not bloody likely.

Peggy Noonan’s mask has been increasingly slipping when dealing with Obama and his care. She normally practices a saccharine sanctimony, but a venomous strain has seeped in lately. She was the speechwriter for Reagan’s sentimental, tear jerking numbers like the paeans to D-Day and Challenger heroes (amusingly both big government endeavors of the sort usually anathema to his ilk). It was Pat Buchanan who normally penned Reagan’s mean-spirited let-‘em-eat-cake, ketchup is a vegetable, welfare queen speeches.

Noonan has played the tough love nun of the party with books seeking to canonize St. Ronald and the acceptable old school Pope John Paul II. Her enthusiasm for Francis has been more tepid since he looks like he might actually take this Assisi-esque help-the-poor crap seriously.

She certainly doesn’t. She’s a divorced Catholic who lives in a $5 million Manhattan condo and writes for the robber-baron right wing Wall Street Journal editorial page. Any talk of income inequality, charity to all, the plight of average workers and health care as a human right is clearly well over the socialist line, bleeding heart pope notwithstanding.

So her attack on the Obamacare milestone (A Catastrophe Like No Other, WSJ, April 5) called the program “a huge historic mess,” the President a “liar” whose program is “terrorizing” the millions of good folks who have lost their insurance. She damned it as a secretive government plot and rule by fiat. She even characterized the announcement of the milestone by Obama as duplicitous “political showbiz.” This from a flack for Reagan, a man who perfected modern political showbiz.

She may weep bitter tears of Christian compassion for people forced to ante up for slightly more expensive plans but has never lost a second of sleep worrying about all the people who have never been able to afford healthcare in the first place.

Of course, she is right that Obamacare is unlikely to provide decent affordable health care to every citizen of the country. It is a mess, at least in part because her fellow travelers boycotted any such endeavor from the beginning and have worked assiduously to make it a failure. But at least some Democrats think it is a worthwhile goal, as they have since the Truman administration.

Noonan and the Republicans by contrast have never shared the notion and have fought it tooth and nail because no one is entitled to live except those who’ve got the do-re-mi. Besides the country can’t afford both the kind of access to health care available in all other developed countries and tax cuts for the wealthy.

Ironically, many of the original foes of the whole idea of Medicare have lived to grow fat on it. Turns out it was neither big government nor a handout to the old and poor but a giant wealth transfer scheme. In exchange for alleviating the suffering of tens of millions, the government took the tax dollars they collected and funneled them to Wellpoint (CEO pay upwards of $4 million, plus stock), The Hospital Corporation of America (total CEO compensation in 2012 $46 million), Merck ($15 million), and the ever fatter and happier members of the AMA (average M.D. pay $340,000). Before Medicare they had to accept chickens as payment.

The trouble with Obama and his care from a conservative perspective is that it might actually begin to do in a small way what Medicare has avoided — demand that the taxpayers get their money’s worth and that the doctors, hospitals, drug companies and insurers stop gouging and charge prices that reasonably reflect the cost of services rendered. This is health care, not the Pentagon, after all.

The Paul Ryan health care alternative, as shown by his budget proposal, is another case of the mask slipping. He poses as a disciple of Jack Kemp, cheerleader for capitalism as a stepping stone to prosperity for the working man but in fact an engineer of trickledown economics, the rich man’s tax cut bonanza. Ryan would replace Medicare with a voucher system permitting people to buy insurance on the unregulated open market. If their ills exceed what the voucher will buy – tough luck. After all, they had a chance to make enough money to be able to afford to be healthy. If they failed, what are we Samaritans? Hell no, we’re Republicans.

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