I debated if I should try to be politically correct, but I thought I would share my candid thoughts as an Independent voter regarding the latest of several efforts by our Tea Party friends to defang Obamacare, which is largely a Republican idea. I find of interest that Obamacare is an idea that was supported by the leader of Tea Party in 2009, Senator Jim DeMint, when it was called Romneycare and was working pretty successfully in Massachusetts. This was before Obama passed a version of the law and Romney decided to run for President again in 2012.
You see, DeMint supported Romney and Romneycare in the 2008 presidential election even going on stage to advocate for both and writing a letter to then President Bush that Romneycare was the solution for America’s healthcare problem. Yet, once 2012 rolled around after Obamacare had been passed, DeMint could not continue his earlier advocacy, so he distanced himself from both Romney and Romneycare and did an ultimate flip-flop. DeMint is leading the current charge against Obamacare from his position as President of the conservative Heritage Foundation. I personally find this hypocritical.
But enough on that subject. Our Tea Party friends have advocated taking the subsidies away to help people in need buy the healthcare under the exchanges and expanded Medicaid in 25 states that did so. These subsidies would go up to people making four times the poverty limit declining to zero at the higher income level. Since poverty is an equal opportunity offender affecting all political parties, races, ethnicities and genders, this latest attempt to kill their own idea will be harmful to many people in need. We lose sight of the fact that Obamacare was set up to help reduce the number of uninsured which was near 50 million Americans. The earlier implemented phases of Obamacare have been well received and have reduced that count with adult children under age 26 being allowed to continue on their parent’s plan if not in college. The exchanges will work well, once the kinks get worked out, and we need other states to expand Medicaid to help those in poverty.
Yet, this latest effort follows on a litany of other stances advocated by Tea Partiers that add to this feeling of cold heartedness.
– A way several GOP led states are trying to limit the success of Obamacare is not to expand Medicaid. This is harmful to about 500,000 people in North Carolina as an example, yet it is also harmful to the economy of the state. The Rand Corporation said expanding Medicaid should be a no-brainer as it is a win-win for the people in poverty and state economy. Rural healthcare is hemorrhaging due to a high percentage of uninsured claimants, and one hospital has already announced it will have to close its doors if Medicaid is not expanded. This rural impact will especially hit many GOP voters hard, so it is not just Democrats that are impacted by this move, which should not matter in the decision-making.
– With no evidence of any material Voter ID fraud, the Tea Party has helped pass Jim Crow like voter restrictions (of which the ID is only one part) in several states. These states are being sued for the unconstitutionally of the laws including the most onerous one in North Carolina passed a few months ago. As reported by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, voter fraud is not an issue with the bigger problem by far being not enough people voting. So the laws do not attempt to solve the real issue. By the way, Tuesday in primary voting in my home town in North Carolina, only 6.67% of voters participated in the election. It is easier to count voters when no one is voting. Our country is dwarfed by other democratic countries in voting percentages, so we need to address that problem, not this phantom voter fraud issue which for some reason lacks data to support it, so says conservative columnist David Brooks. These voter ID laws are designed to suppress votes.
– In my state of North Carolina, the unemployment benefits were so severely cut, that we lost Federal funding. Not only is this harmful to the 70,000 people impacted, there is a huge impact on the economy of the state with hundreds of millions of dollars not flowing into the marketplace of transactions. This hurts people of all stripes, but will have an echo effect on the economy which will impact others.
– Also in my state of North Carolina, a law was passed to require drug testing for people who are suspected of use and are getting welfare benefits. A version of this law was passed in Florida and was found to be unconstitutional and declared invalid. However, enough data was analyzed while it was up and running and an interesting data point emerged. People on welfare used drugs at one-fourth the rate of the non-welfare recipients in Florida. Saying this in reverse, people not on welfare used drugs at a rate four times the rate of those folks on welfare.
– We are also holding the farm subsidies bill hostage which impacts those on food stamps. Again, the food stamp issue is waved as yet another example of fraud, yet per Brooks, he has seen no blatant examples of fraud around food stamp usage. Since we have a hunger problem in our country, we should be finding more ways to get people nourished and helping them climb a ladder. Yet, we have some folks who want to kick people while they are down. I could add a lot about not doing more to stimulate the economy building on the success of the initial stimulus bill which did work per five econometric firms, but that would require its own post.
I mention North Carolina as an example several times, but what the GOP and Tea Party have done is used their political clout at the state levels to pass cooker cutter laws in many states that harm people. The laws are worded largely the same as they come from the same source. Yet, they also have passed laws that harm the environment giving greater freedom to industries, especially those in the fossil fuel industry. These laws will provide a windfall to industry, but the state will be left holding the bag for clean-up and healthcare impact. I would be remiss if I did not mention the largest backers of the Tea Party made their billions in the fossil fuel industry. I will let you draw your own conclusions.
This 41st effort to repeal or defund Obamacare reeks of gamesmanship that will end up hurting the pawns. The states who did not expand Medicaid are harming people as well as their economies. The Republican Ohio governor is arguing for expansion as it will bring $13 Billion to his state over the next seven years. These are his words, not mine. Yet, I want people to think about this next statement. The main reason the Tea Party is against Obamacare is while it is not perfect, Obamacare has already made headway with its earlier implemented features and will largely work to get more people insured. Blue Cross Blue Shield has been running exchanges in several states for years and they work pretty well. I have been in one for the past two months. And, the GOP has long favored the idea of more competition, which is what the exchanges will be doing.
So, note to my Tea Party friends. Close your eyes and go back in time to 2009. Let’s hear Senator Jim DeMint supporting the use of exchanges, favoring the mandate and advocating doing Romneycare for the whole country. Because, in large part, that is what Obamacare is. Please do not let there be a 42nd attempt.