Republicans Mislead about Medicaid Negotiations

I got this by email from my delegate, Rick Morris:

Governor Terry McAuliffe and General Assembly Democrats are demanding that we expand ObamaCare in Virginia before they will agree to pass a budget.

This is wrong. Virginia’s budget is not a bargaining chip. Regardless of how you feel about ObamaCare, holding hostage funding for our schools, teachers, police officers, firefighters and local governments is wrong.

It’s similar to emails that other Republican delegates have been sending to their constituents throughout Virginia.

It’s hard for me to take it seriously when Republicans complain about brinkmanship over budget impasses. They don’t have the right. The emails also say that Democrats won’t compromise. But it’s Republicans in the House of Delegates, like Rick Morris, who won’t compromise. House Republicans even rejected the Virginia Senate compromise, “Marketplace Virginia”, which had bi-partisan support. When House Republicans complain that Democrats won’t compromise, what they mean is, “Democrats won’t cave”. And Democrats should not cave on Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid expansion will help 400,000 people who are too poor to qualify for the provisions of the Affordable Care Act but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid under current limits. Those are working people, not the right wing’s exaggerated numbers of “welfare queens”. Expanding Medicaid will even help keep some of them keep working after a medical crisis. And Medicaid expansion will create jobs.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association spells out:

  • Implementing the Medicaid expansion in Virginia would provide a $3.9 billion boost to the Virginia economy annually;
  • The related federal funds could support more than 30,000 jobs; and
  • While most of the direct benefits accrue to the health care sector, significant benefits would also be enjoyed by businesses and households.

Medicaid expansion is also supported by the Chamber of Commerce, because it’s good for Virginia’s economy. The people that Medicaid expansion is bad for are the politicians who want to see the Affordable Care Act fail, and health care providers who have benefited from the skyrocketing health care costs which are finally getting under control.

If you’re in Virginia, call your State Delegate today and tell him or her that you support Medicaid expansion, and that you don’t want House Republicans to hold up the budget trying to block it.

Executive Delay

obama

In both number and significance, Obama’s use of executive orders pales against some of his predecessors. A simple search of “executive order” at history.com lists far greater exercises of executive power than President Obama has used. Even eliminating such egregious abuses as the internment of Japanese Americans, the list of executive orders includes such sweeping acts as the establishment of the Peace Corps, creation of military bases on foreign soil, integrating the armed forces, and ending discrimination in housing. Wars were entered and exited by executive order, and more recently, we have George Bush’s warrantless wiretapping and enhanced interrogation techniques.

Today, President Obama has been accused of unprecedented abuse of his executive authority, largely stemming from his order to delay implementation of the employer mandate, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. By delaying the order, Obama is accused of violating Article Two of the United States Constitution, which commands the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”.

But delays of implementation have been used frequently in the past. In the early 90’s several laws passed by Congress were delayed, with Bush (Sr.) administration officials blaming Congress for writing laws that were too complex to enforce, according to an article in the New York Times by Robert Pear dated March 31, 1991. According to that same article, the Reagan administration also used delays to “enforce its philosophy of less government and to save money”.

It might be a constitutional violation if Obama used executive orders to thwart duly passed legislation, but Obama delayed the employer mandate to ensure the Affordable Care Act could be properly enacted despite initial problems. He did so to address complaints from conservative organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – complaints about difficulty in compliance which in turn would mean difficulty in enforcement. Some of those difficulties stem from Obama’s opponents’ efforts to make the Affordable Care Act as difficult to implement as possible.

Any doubt that the delay in implementing the employer mandate was an effort to ensure the law was properly executed should be alleviated by the realization that those who are most bitterly speaking out against the delay are those who want to kill the act. Surely it is those people, not the President, who are working against the faithful execution of federal law.

Negotiating Health Care Reform

Crowing about the Republican failure to get their demands after costing the nation 24 billion dollars and threatening even more damage may be playing into Republican hands by helping to spread the “Democrats won’t negotiate” lie. David Akadjion warns about this while using, as an example, a Racheal Maddow chart which says “They Got (Nothing)”:

Note how the Maddow chart appears to a conservative who has bought into this idea that Democrats won’t negotiate.

Akadjion points out that negotiations were in place prior to the shutdown. But the Affordable Care Act was a negotiation right from the start.

The original idea was single-payer, but even before Barack Obama got elected with a significant majority, right wing pundits began lying about how horrible health care was in countries with nationalized health care. People in those counties defended their systems and thought Americans were crazy for resisting reform. The phrase “Best health care system in the world” was widely used by right wing pundits, and even when Glen Beck’s “best in the world” rants were starkly and hilariously debunked by Beck’s own bitter criticism of American health care just a short time earlier, Fox News fans, some of whom must have seen both stages of Beck, didn’t seem to get the irony.

The first health care compromise was to trade single payer for a public option. This would have allowed each citizen to choose between “socialized medicine” and a private insurer. But the Republicans criticized the public option on two fronts: First, that government will provide expensive, complicated, and low quality health care than nobody wants, and second, that private insurers will be at an unfair disadvantage in competing with such a system. Again, irony lost.

So be it. President Obama’s answer to Republican criticism was “Ok, we’ll do it your way”. And so the Affordable Care Act was patterned after Mitt Romney’s health care plan for Massachusetts (Romnycare) and on suggestions for health care overhaul promoted by such right wing outlets as the Heritage foundation. The right wing response to Democrats altering their own vision for health care in favor of a Republican idea was to fight it at all costs.

From that point on, any attempt to negotiate with Republicans was met with resistance, followed by lies about the intransigence of Democrats. Republicans achieved a new level of hypocrisy by taking their own idea to the Supreme Court. When ACA was deemed constitutional by SCOTUS, Republicans pinned their hope on electing Mitt Romney to repeal a national health care system based on one of the few successes he had in an otherwise dismal record as governor of Massachusetts. And Romney lost.

Republicans claim that the ACA never had majority support. That’s no longer true, but even when polls showed less than a majority in favor of Obamacare, Americans approved of the provisions of ACA as long as it wasn’t called “Obamacare”. A classic example is the Kentuckian who was impressed with Kentucky’s new health care exchange system.

… The man is impressed. “This beats Obamacare I hope,” he mutters to one of the workers.

Obamacare polls are also misleading in other ways. For one thing, much of the disapproval over Obamacare is about the concessions Obama made trying to woo conservatives. Another point which Obama pollsters fail to mention: There is no plan with majority support, including doing nothing. Even before Obamacare polled with majority support, it was more popular than any other idea.

So here were today, in the aftermath of a 24 billion dollar temper tantrum led by a junior Congressman who for some reason, has the Republican party by the nose. What Ted Cruz has to say about the damage he has caused in his failed attempt to undermine the will of the people is, “I hope that in time, the Senate begins to listen to the American people.”

If Congress were to listen to the American people, they would support Obamacare, and stop causing billions of dollars with of damage to our nation trying to destroy it.

A Convert Writes about Universal Health Care

Sasha had me read this post about a former American conservative’s experience with the Canadian health care sysem ..

… I had better prenatal care than I had ever had in the States … and I never had to worry about how much a test cost …. the percentage rates of abortion are far lower in Canada than they are in the USA … a mother pregnant unexpectedly would still have health care … even if she was unemployed, had to quit her job, or lost her job … lest you think that the Canada system is draining the government resources, their budget is very close to balanced every year. They’ve had these programs for decades.

We are in the process of overhauling our health system which, even with the best doctors in the world, fails to meet the needs of millions. Opponents are spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying reverse this process because despite all the money that they’re spending, it’s in their financial interests to go back to the system of skyrocketing health care costs which an ever more exclusive percentage of Americans can afford. For the rest of us, it’s in our interest to keep the process on track.

Reasonably be Characterized

My wife and I raise animals for meat. We occasionally grow fond of a certain animal and decide not to eat it. That animal can “Reasonably be Characterized” as a pet, because certain rules of pets apply to it. But other rules don’t apply, and therefore we don’t consider it a pet. And I’m not a big liar when I tell you that it isn’t.
Sow and Piglets

Talking About Impeachment

Assuming Justice Scalia’s new opinion about Wickard vs Filburn is what it appears to be, which is a convenient lie to explain why he is more loyal to ideology than to his own constitutional interpretations, then he should be impeached. He won’t be, of course, but as Nathan Newman points out

Talking about impeachment, however, is a way to label this right-wing Court majority as the partisan tool of corporate right-wing interests that it has become.

That the constitutional question about the health care mandate is nothing but a partisan, political, attack on the President is belied by the fact that ideologues who are leading the attack once supported such a mandate. That Justice Scalia plans to go along with the ruse appears to be indicated by timely reversal of opinion about a Supreme Court case which he once supported.

We can’t read Scalia’s mind to determine if he’s shaping his beliefs to support an agenda, but we can look at the evidence. While agreeing with Wickard vs. Filburn should coincide with support for the Affordable Care Act, proclaiming Wickard a mistake isn’t necessarily preparation for declaring ACA unconstitutional. And if Scalia ends up supporting ACA, it would be pretty strong evidence that his change of heart about Wickard was genuine.

But if Justice Scalia votes down ACA, despite his previous opinion which lays groundwork for supporting it, than it would appear that he is willing to flip on his beliefs in order to support political goals. That would not be good behavior for a Supreme Court justice, and would be reason to bring up the conversation about impeachment.

Talking about impeachment now will likely have no immediate effect, but it may reduce political influence on the Court in the future.

Trolling about Health Care at NRO

Trolling at the NRO is frustrating because it takes so long for comments to appear. On the other hand, I should admit that I was wrong In an earlier post when I suggested that my comments would be replied to by excessively nasty and low-class remarks.

Charles Krauthammer wrote a post about the Affordable Care Act in which he begins re-telling the easily and repeatedly debunked lie about the 1.76 trillion cost estimate from the CBO. Then he gives the old slippery slope warning, suggesting that if the Supreme Court approves Obamacare, there won’t be any limits on federal power. Finally, he writes about Catholic organizations being forced to pay for contraception, which they’re not actually being forced to do, as an unprecedented denial of religious freedom, when actually it’s tame compared to oppression that the Supreme Court has approved of in the past.

I wrote a reply, but it probably won’t appear until tonight or tomorrow.

The 1.76 trillion figure is part of a calculation that has been taken out of context from a report (pdf) in which it’s very clearly not being used as a final estimate. One conservative lied about it and it spread through the internet at an amazing clip. Mr. Krauthammer undercut his usual low standards by repeating a lie that not only has been debunked by multiple organizations, is pretty easy for anyone to debunk on their own. The report isn’t too hard to read. The report actually says, on the first page, that the CBO’s new estimate is lower than previous estimates for the same period of time. But when not using the same time period, which is what happens each year when the CBO produces it’s ten-year projections, the cost will rise as more of the ACA is implemented. This is a well known fact but Mr. Krauthammer sounds the alarm as if he’s just uncovered a secret plot. But 1.76 trillion is false even with the new, increased estimate.

The health care mandate is in keeping with current powers of the federal government. A commenter on National Review suggested that if Obamacare passes then everyone over 18 should be mandated to purchase a gun. I don’t know if the commenter is aware that a similar mandate was passed during the presidency of George Washington. Washington’s mandate was never challenged in the Supreme Court but 1942, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government can use the commerce clause to put limits on wheat production even if the production is for private use. More recently, the court overrode state law by outlawing marijuana for medicinal purposes, and Justice Antonin Scalia supported the power of the commerce clause in that case. Charles Krauthammer wants to know, if the mandate passes, is there anything the commerce clause doesn’t allow the federal government to do? George Washington’s mandate was never challenged and the two cases I just mentioned are far more overreaching than the health care mandate, so whatever the federal government can and can’t do now, it won’t change with approval of the health care mandate.

The recent accommodation for Catholic institutions means that those institutions will not directly pay for contraception. If it’s unconstitutional for Catholic organizations to be forced to pay indirectly for something they don’t believe in, than all taxes are unconstitutional because they may be used indirectly to pay for things that citizens don’t agree with, such as war, subsidies for farms which produce pork, and even Medicare, since some people don’t believe in medicine.

Mr. Krauthammer writes,

Today, it’s the Catholic Church whose free-exercise powers are under assault from this cascade of diktats sanctioned by — indeed required by — Obamacare. Tomorrow it will be the turn of other institutions of civil society that dare stand between unfettered state and atomized citizen.

But the federal government has a long history of trampling over religious beliefs when doing so supports a national agenda. One good example, also supported by conservative Justice Scalia, is the religious use of controlled substances, which the Supreme Court has determined can be disallowed. Mr. Krauthammer has access to high level archival databases. Surely has access to wikipedia.

Conservatives, including Mitt Romney, New Gingrich, and the leadership of the Heritage Foundation all supported the individual mandate before defeating the mandate became something that could used to damage the Democratic party. That’s another inconvenient fact that Mr. Krauthammer has to ignore in order to paint Democrats as Socialists for their support of Obamacare.

A nobody like I can be forgiven for acting like a passive element and mindlessly repeating lies that are bouncing around the internet. Someone with Mr. Krauthammer’s resources should know better.