Republicans Suddenly Love Everything About Obamacare Except For the 'Obama' & 'Care' Parts
For a while now, the one thing we could count on from Republicans is that they hated the Affordable Care Act. They hated it so much they called it "Obamacare," a term first used derisively by Mitt Romney in 2007.
"Let me tell ya, if we don't do [something about health care], the Democrats will," warns Republican Mitt Romney. "And if the Democrats do it, it'll be socialized medicine. It will be government-managed care. It'll be what's known as Hillary-care or Barack Obama-care or whatever you want to call it."
It was easy enough to run against the imaginary horrors Republicans claimed the ACA would inflict -- endless waits to see a doctor like in Canada, with all their poutine-related health issues, or the nightmarish "death panels" Sarah Palin invented -- but once the Affordable Care Act started actually providing Americans with affordable health care, things got tricky. Oh, Republicans still tried to strip coverage away from tens of millions of people, but shockingly they weren't greeted as liberators. Trying to kill your constituents is really unpopular, even in red states where they might've happily died from treatable ailments to spite Barack Obama, but the guy's not even president anymore so where's the fun in that.
Republicans had hoped to sweep their attempted mass murder under the rug and just barrel through midterms, but polls show that health care remains a top issue with voters. Bummer. Oh well, they still have their tried and true electoral strategy of lying their asses off in a shameless insult of our intelligence and short-term memories.
Republican Martha McSally, during her debate Monday with Democratic opponent Kyrsten Sinema, claimed that she'd voted to "protect people with pre-existing conditions [...] to make sure insurance companies were forced to give them health care." Whoa, hold on there, hippie. Put some shoes on while we check out your story. McSally voted for the GOP's two versions of TrumpCare, neither of which really forced insurance companies to "give them" health care. If you walk into Tiffany's, no one will refuse to sell you a diamond-encrusted gold pony, but the government isn't going to "force" them to offer the item to you at a rate you can afford. The ACA had actual "protections" for people with pre-existing conditions. Recent GOP-sponsored bills are riddled with loopholes that only really "protect" vulnerable Republican candidates.
McSally and Sinema debate for U.S. Senate seat in Arizona: healthcare www.youtube.com
McSally also shifts the goal posts by arguing that "Obamacare was the wrong approach" to fix the bad old days when folks were one ingrown toenail from going bankrupt. House Speaker John Boehner in 2013 flat-out claimed Obamacare would destroy the "best health care delivery system in the world," a health care system that had been owned by a little old lady who only drove it to the grocery store and church a couple times a week. Former Bush speechwriter David Frum has written often about how Republicans refused to work with Obama to negotiate any changes in the Democrats' health care bill. As the worst living creature on Earth Mitch McConnell confirmed, this was so Obama could be denied a bipartisan "win."
There is no good faith claim, based on the recorded history of just eight years ago, that Republicans were interested in any approach other than the status quo for health care reform. But now even Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is running around in his Green Bay Packers jacket and claiming to care about pre-existing conditions protections.
Walker is down in most polls that haven't been conducted in his own living room. I get that he's desperate, but Wisconsin is one of 20 states that sued the federal government this year to immediately overturn the ACA -- at minimum, the states asked that pre-existing conditions protections be struck down. Walker directly authorized Wisconsin joining the suit. Even Charles Boyer would find this behavior appalling.
Next door in Michigan, one of my favorite people Gretchen Whitmer is on track to replace current poisoner-in-chief Rich Snyder in the governor's mansion. She's crushing Republican opponent Bill Schuette in polls, but that doesn't mean she's going to sit back and let Schuette try to sell Michiganders a used car they already own. Take a gander at this.
See that, buddy? Whitmer's not gonna fall for the banana in the tailpipe. Schuette might argue that his true issue was with the "un-Constitutional overreach" of Obamacare's individual mandate, but you literally can't afford any of the positive elements people like without it. You need healthy people in the insurance pool. If only sick old people are in the pool, you just have a Cocoon remake, not a sustainable health care model.
Republicans such as Newt Gingrich had bashed Obamacare for letting children stay on their parents' plans well into their 20s, because it "increased dependency" -- unlike, I guess, getting rid of the estate tax, which totally promotes productivity among children of billionaires. But it turns out, this is perhaps the most popular part of Obamacare, and Republicans are suddenly all for it.
But it's all just a desperate attempt from Republicans to maintain power. No matter what these guys try to tell you in the next few weeks, if you want access to affordable health care, vote for Democrats. Period.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.