Wednesday, December 28, 2016
REPEAL AND REPLACE?
One of the things that drives progressives like me crazy in this country is the way that middle and lower class white people (especially men) vote for Republicans time and time again, despite the fact that the Republicans economic plans of tax cuts for the rich and rolling back social programs will not actually benefit them. Putting it simply, since Lyndon Johnson signed the civil rights voting act and declared a war on poverty back in the 60's Republicans have been playing on racial resentments in code words, (welfare queens) allowing the rich and the powerful to hold onto more of that wealth and power by shifting the problems in America onto the backs of supposedly lazy minorities. Donald Trump campaign took those code words and turned them into outright race baiting, although he blamed Mexican immigrants more than African Americans.
One of the craziest trends of poor and middle class whites voting against their own economic interests comes from people who can only afford health care through the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) , which Trump repeatedly said he would repeal. (And in typical Trumpian fashion, said he would replace it with "something great" without explanation.) Recent stories in the New York Times and Vox magazine interview people who are glad to have healthcare through Obamacare and yet who gleefully voted for Trump. Many of them felt that he couldn't possibly repeal something that has helped so many people get healthcare. But will he?
Well, he certainly said he would, and the Republican lead congress is even more enthusiastic about it. The result of that repeal could mean that the twenty five million Americans aided by it could be thrown off of their healthcare. Obviously, the Republicans don't want that to happen overnight, so they have proposed repealing the bill and putting a time limit on that repeal in two to three years, at which time, so they claim, they will have a better proposal in place. But one has to wonder just what kind of plan the Republicans will come up with that isn't the kind of big government program they claim to hate. Both Trump and congress say that they want to retain certain provisions of the bill, like allowing young people being able to stay on their parents's health plan until their 26, and health care companies not being able to refuse care because of a patient's pre existing condition, but they don't mention just how to afford those provisions without retaining the insurance mandate provision, that is, the part of the bill that says all Americans must purchase healthcare or pay a fee. That provision is how the bill is paid for, and it's also the part Republicans claim to hate the most. So what will they do?
Sadly, this all seems to be coming down to a horrible game of chicken with the well being of millions of Americans in the middle. Will the Republicans find a free market solution that doesn't just look like they're dumping millions of people off health care? And if they do, will the Democrats in congress filibuster it, or live with it rather than let those millions of Americans go without care? It's going to be interesting, but I think those white middle class voters really need to think about what they've done and learn to stop shooting themselves in the foot. (Especially since they may soon not have any healthcare coverage).