Sunday, November 17, 2013

Obama on The ACA and - the Only Adult in the Room

The NYT ran an article yesterday on the reaction of the insurance industry to a bill the House passed on Friday. The bill, which passed because 59 Democrats buckled out of fear that they won’t be re-elected, allows people to keep their old insurance policies and also allows insurance companies to sell new ones – even if they don’t provide the benefits or consumer protection of the ACA - for another year. Well that’s a triumph for the American people.

The author of the NYT article wrote that Obama is trying to extricate himself from a political crisis of his own making. It’s that kind of spin which adds to public panic and feeds the beast of blame that Americans nurture with such care, regardless of whether there’s any truth to their reasoning or not.

The ACA is fine. It’s the website that has glitches. Glitches are the IT industry norm. Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Wordpress; they’ve all screwed up at some point. Microsoft is still a nightmare to work with. In itself the glitch wasn’t a political crisis. It was turned into the semblance of one by Republicans in the House blowing them into a monumental problem and, with the help of the media, whipping an easily influenceable conservative public into panic not because they (House Republicans) care about their electorate - they proved a short while ago that they don't - but because they want the power in Congress and they want the next President.

Then they could maintain the status quo. Introduce austerity which has worked so well in Europe and will only affect the middle class, further decimating it. And send America truly to the dogs. Right now infrastructure is falling apart – roads, bridges, electrical grids - not because the Obama Administration isn’t aware of it, but because Republicans refuse to raise taxes on those who can afford it and Obama refuses to raises taxes on those who can’t. The poor would get poorer again, America would engage in wars again, and insurance companies would sell low quality insurance to anybody who could afford it. And millions would be without. Soon something else that was part of the status quo will re-emerge; hatred of insurance companies that sell crap policies.

But Republicans are again banking on something that’s just their wishful thinking. This political crisis is mostly hot air and it’ll dissipate before 2016. Who remembers anything about the Syrian War? Who cares about terrorism? Who even remembers Edward Snowden, not to mention the other bod, the Australian holed up in an embassy in London. 

What’s going to be left of all this media-whip? The reality of a better life even if it’s not as good as it could have been with a responsible House; affordable health care that’s functional; and the memory of a Republican House that did everything it could (including shutting down the government and wasting $24 billion) to curtail the power of the middle class. A middle class that won’t be as white as the last time anybody voted. A middle class that isn’t lazy and stupid as Republicans have convinced themselves it is.

Republicans and the media are having a field day painting Obama as a man on the back foot, trying to extricate himself, save face. It makes for good headlines but it just isn’t true. He's taken responsibility and he's doing everything he can to help people affected by the glitches. He's working to fix the problems. He’s not willing to give up on the rights of the majority to have affordable quality healthcare. He's got a strong enough mind that he hasn't been influenced by the storm of misinformation that’s raising so much dust.  

A video posted on the Whitehouse website shows Obama speaking at a press conference about the ACA, and his willingness to take responsibility (2:34 - 9:55, after which he answers questions). He was clear and his sanity refreshing. As far I can tell he's the only adult in the room at the moment. Thank God there’s at least one.