Monday, December 28, 2009
Obamacare Disastrous to the Radical Right? I think not. A colleague in northern England emailed me to pass along the observations of an American blogger that passage of the Obama Administration's healthcare legislation will produce massive change in this Nation's political landscape.
The economics blogger Brad DeLong has suggested that Obama's plan for health care reform (despite not going as far as public-healthcare supporters want) will still be enough to destroy the American conservative movement. This is why back in 1993, neocon Bill Kristol called for killing health care reform at all costs.I don't buy any such argument. Altho it is hardly surprising that a professor of economics should regard economic issues as paramount, the reality is that the Republican Right has been able to do active and ongoing injury to the economic interests of their constituents for a generation yet keep getting re-elected, because it is not economics but "values" and the "culture wars" that produce Republican triumph at the polls in the parts of the country where Republicans are in charge. So I replied:
The plan for mandatory insurance purchase which you have condemned is a bone which Obama is throwing to the insurance companies, while the actual reforms are a ban on insurers refusing to take people on due to pre-existing conditions, federal spending on Medicaid (currently the responsibility of the states) and rebates for Americans with incomes less than 400% above the poverty line.
The Republicans cannot oppose the insurance purchase mandates, as this would turn the hugely wealthy health insurers against them.
They cannot oppose the ban on rejecting those with pre-existing conditions, as this would be suicide at the polls.
They cannot oppose the federal Medicaid funding because much of this is expected to go to Red states (so opposing it would create a conflict between the Republicans in DC and those in the states).
They cannot oppose the rebates for working Americans as this would again be political suicide. It would also destroy right-wing anti-taxation politics, because health care subsidy increases in future would benefit ordinary Americans far more than tax cuts for a given amount of additional deficit (because right-wing tax cuts are generally modest for the middle class but huge for the rich).
To require everyone to buy health insurance from private companies but forbid insurers from refusing insurance to people with pre-existing [conditions] and from cutting off insurance to people who exceed the company's standards, leaves insurers with the option of raising insurance premiums for EVERYONE as high as they want, without any limitation, because there is no limit in the legislation, as far as I have heard, on insurer profits. If everyone has to buy from private insurers, and insurers can charge anything they want, the benefit is primarily to the insurers. How much of a subsidy can the Government provide, especially when insurers can charge anything they want? When some large fraction of Americans are going further into debt each month, they cannot afford even 2 cents on health insurance, but are required to buy it anyway, or pay a fine that they also cannot afford. Will a subsidy cover every cent of the cost of their insurance? If so, then somebody else is paying for it, and the unfair cost-shifting that is the argument against permitting some people who don't want health insurance to refuse to buy it still exists, just in a different form.In short, the Radical Right does not represent so much as use the constituency they claim to be concerned about. The Radical Right is indeed about money, but not the economic well-being of the many, only that of the few. They dangle hot-button issues in front of rednecks to distract them while the policies of the Radical Right pick their pocket. And the rednecks they rob are so stupid that they don't even notice that their wallets, which are put back in their pocket after the cash has been extracted, are thinner than they should be. They are actually happy to see that "we" are doing so well, with our mansions and yachts, and delude themselves that the rich really care about them and are fiting for them against those godless Commie pinko faggots of the Liberal Northeast. They never had much, but at least the Good Old Boys of the Republican Party are fiting to keep what little they do have: their God, their guns, their 'manhood' (meaning "heterosexuality", and not just for themselves, but for everyone else, whether they want it or not). As long as they can look down their nose at faggots and put "In God We Trust" on the money, it doesn't matter to them that they are poor as dirt. They've still got their dignity. Good thing, because the Radical Right ruling class has everything else.
Since taxes are NOT being raised on the rich by any significant rate, that means that the costs will come from the middle class and working poor, twice. First, they have to buy insurance they can't afford; second, they have to pay higher taxes to subsidize such people as the Government chooses to subsidize, to the extent the Government chooses to subsidize them. And if it is not 100%, the people who are now going into debt every month will go even DEEPER into debt every month because they cannot escape health-insurance premiums.
The current plans are not to go into effect for YEARS, so could be revoked or eviscerated before so much as a single person is helped. Tens of thousands will die who shouldn't, all because Congress and Obama are gutless and useless.
As for what the Republican Party can get away with, the policies of that party have been hostile to the poor and lower middle class for decades, but they have somehow managed to persuade the poorer people of the Red States — which are poorer than the Blue States — that they are on their side because they want to keep the faggots, atheists, and pinkos down! Because the poor white trash who vote for them despite what should be obvious harm to them from Republican policies, will continue to vote on "values", not economics, the Republicans can continue to win elections by appealing to tribalism, and poor white trash will continue to be poor and uneducated. Indeed, if healthcare reform actually works to reduce the harm that Republican policies have done in producing a massive outflow of jobs to China et al., the inclination of white trash to vote Republican will increase, because they will be partially shielded from the worst effects of Republican policies.
In no way will universal health insurance from private insurers damage the Republican Right Wing. [It will just prove that private enterprise, the "free market", works! Because the essence of "free enterprise" is private ownership of the enterprises that provide goods and services, not freedom from compulsion to do business with privately-owned enterprises. So a corporatist state that forces people to do business with privately-owned companies is NOT providing "Government healthcare" but PRIVATE healthcare.] If anything, it will strengthen the Right — unless it fails so horribly that the economy is destroyed by uncontrolled health spending and by massive bankruptcy and foreclosure rates brought on by inadequate subsidies. The export of jobs will likely not just continue, [but] actually accelerate if corporations [that operate here rather than move production overseas] are compelled to pay for health insurance they do not now provide.
No matter how you look at it, it's a catastrophe in the making. Either the whole Government is brought low by catastrophic spending on healthcare that makes a disastrous deficit a calamitous deficit, or the people oust the Democrats from majorities in both houses and Republicans refuse to fund the system. They don't have to repeal the legislation. They can simply refuse to fund.
I can't see things working under any scenario if the Senate version is what is finally enacted. If the House version, with a public option, is what passes and is signed, things might not be such a disaster. But the courts may very well rule the individual mandate an unconstitutional seizure of property for transfer to private corporations, which is forbidden by the Fifth Amendment. The current Supreme Court might rule that the Government can force people to buy from private insurers, but if this proves ruinous, as it must, there may be a revolt, violent in nature, against Congress, the President, and the Court. Bullets have played a major role in U.S. history, and could again.
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