When Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) declared passing the Affordable Care Act to be “armageddon,” there was nowhere for the Republican Party to go but into absolute absurdity. And they have.
House Republicans took what is estimated to be their 40th vote to repeal all or some of the Affordable Care Act on Friday. But it’s outside the halls of Congress where their remarkable campaign to sabotage a law that’s already covering millions and saving lives has thrived.
You know about the blatant obstruction engineered by Republican governors and legislators — including refusing to set up health insurance marketplaces or expand Medicaid, even though the federal government is funding, at first, 100 percent of the expansion.
But the unprecedented effort to oppose and destroy the first attempt to cover nearly all Americans with health insurance — because we already pay for each other’s health care in the dumbest way possible — is a guerrilla war, being fought every day, across the United States.
And though Republicans probably won’t succeed in preventing the implementation of most of the law in 2014, they’ve already made an already difficult task much more difficult in these five ways.
A Constant Disinformation Campaign
This chart tracks initial jobless claims received by the federal government. It is also incontrovertible proof that the stimulus worked.
As you see, suddenly in the first quarter of 2009, the rapidly escalating trend of layoffs suddenly reversed. What happened in the first quarter of 2009? The stimulus passed and began to go into effect. Despite this clear evidence that the government’s actions prevented a depression and reversed the layoff crisis, Republicans — and I mean every Republican who ever got near a camera — turned “stimulus” into a bad word by referring to it as “the failed stimulus” even before it was put into effect.
The GOP has been waging the same unrelenting campaign against Obamacare — with a brief break while it tried to elect the man who created the template for Obamacare to replace Obama.
The most recent lie involves offering a poll that says 74 percent of employers will fire workers or cut hours because of Obamacare. The actual number, in a poll conducted by fierce opponents of the law, is 4.5 to 8.5 percent.
That lie has been repeated by Speaker Boehner, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill O’Reilly. That’s message discipline. That’s how you turn an undeniable success into a liability.
Encouraging People To Not Get Health Insurance
How do you mock the more than 26,000 Americans who die each year for a lack of insurance and the more than 50,000 soldiers who lost their lives in Vietnam?
FreedomWorks — one of the “grassroots” organizations that helped fuel the Tea Party — is encouraging young people to burn their “Obamacare cards,” which don’t actually exist. Conservatives know that the success of the Affordable Care Act depends on getting about seven million young people to sign up for coverage. To dissuade them from doing this, FreedomWorks is staging these little bonfires on college campuses. The only problem with this brilliant plan is that because of Obamacare, students are covered on their parents’ insurance until they are 26.
FreedomWorks isn’t alone in this agenda. The organization is also being joined by Americans for Prosperity, explains Yahoo! News’ Chris Moody:
Americans for Prosperity, a group partially funded by donors David and Charles Koch, plans to release a television ad Wednesday to raise questions about the law. Instead of focusing on the law’s repeal, AFP’s newest effort will argue that health insurance premiums will rise for those who sign up for the exchanges. The group also is making plans to dispatch activists to sporting events, festivals and town fairs in multiple states for the next several months to warn people that they could have fewer medical choices under the law.
These groups spread misinformation under the guise of “asking questions.”
Luckily, Dr. Chris Lillis has answers.
Purposely Inflating The Costs Of Insurance
As individual states begin publishing the rates consumers will be charged in the new health care exchanges, the news for Obamacare has been generally good, with 10 states and the District of Columbia reporting rates 18 percent lower than what the Congressional Budget Office predicted for “silver” plans. In Massachusetts, where much of the law is already in place, most people signed up for either the bronze or silver plan.
The state of Indiana, however, claims rates will rise by 72 percent. “Indiana added to its model costs such as deductibles, prescription rates and co-insurance or co-payments, the only state that appears to have done so,” explains Reuters’ Carolina Humer.
Whenever Republicans trumpet rate increases, they generally fail to mention three things: 1) The plans being offered meet minimum standards that guarantee both coverage and that the insurance company will spend between 80 and 85 percent on medical care; 2) No one can be rejected for coverage because of pre-existing conditions, a new provision in nearly all states, which makes comparing current prices to past offerings pretty useless, and 3) 26 million Americans will be eligible for subsidies that will make sure they pay no more than 10 percent of their income on health care.
Making Americans Think The Law Has Been Repealed
Even Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is sick of the House Republicans’ constant repeals of Obamacare.
“The House has voted what, 39, 40, 41 times — I can’t keep track — to repeal Obamacare,” he said. “Those votes were by and large empty symbolic votes they had zero chance of passing.”
But there is a method to this madness. More than 1 in 10 Americans think the law has already been repealed and 42 percent aren’t sure if it’s still in effect.
With the largest open enrollment period in American history set to begin on October 1, this kind of confusion can wreak havoc.
Threatening To Take Down The Whole Government To Stop Obamacare
Senators Cruz and Mike Lee (R-UT) are proposing something so insane and unprecedented that even Republicans are disturbed.
Led by Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, the GOP insurgents are threatening to shut down the government on Oct. 1 if the stopgap funding bill contains money for Obamacare.
This is nuts. The president will never sign a bill defunding the singular achievement of his presidency. Especially when he has control of the Senate. Especially when, though a narrow 51 percent majority of Americans disapproves of Obamacare, only 36 percent favors repeal. President Obama so knows he’ll win any shutdown showdown that he’s practically goading the Republicans into trying.
Never make a threat on which you are not prepared to deliver. Every fiscal showdown has redounded against the Republicans. The first, in 1995, effectively marked the end of the Gingrich revolution. The latest, last December, led to a last-minute Republican cave that humiliated the GOP and did nothing to stop the tax hike it so strongly opposed.
Those who fancy themselves tea party patriots fighting a sold-out cocktail-swilling establishment are demanding yet another cliff dive as a show of principle and manliness.
This effort is a convenient fundraising scheme for Cruz’s nascent presidential campaign. But just the fact that elected Republicans are convincing their base that it’s possible shows how far the GOP will go to destroy a program that taxes corporations and the richest 2 percent of Americans to help working families afford health care.