Obamacare is alive and kicking


    Generations from now, when the perks of Obamacare are taken for granted, when the descendents of today’s obstructionist Republicans are reaping its benefits and wondering why the GOP foolishly fought to kill it, 2012 will be remembered as the pivotal year when progress was locked in.

    Call it a one-two punch. First the U.S. Supreme Court kept the health reform law alive; then the election ratified the president who signed it. And this week, some Republicans are finally waving the white flag. As Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell said in the wake of Obama’s decisive electoral-vote victory (with help from his own state), “The federal health-care law, it looks like now, it will go into effect. The president is obviously behind it. The Senate is Democrat. There’s not going to be, at least at this point…a complete repeal.”

    Um, no. There will not be “a complete repeal.” Mitt Romney campaigned for complete repeal, but he lost. The Republicans tried this year to capture the Senate (and thus increase their repeal leverage), but they lost. Which leaves Obamacare alive and kicking. There will be a full phase-in by 2014 – as intended all along by those in the reality-based community who have long sought to provide Americans with the same basic health-coverage protections that are de rigueur virtually everywhere else in the western industrialized world.

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    Yeah, some thorny details still need to be tweaked or recalibrated. And, let’s face it, Obama has already demonstrated that he’s not particularly skilled at explaining his signature achievement in everyday terms. That task still needs to happen in 2013. Maybe he should create a new Cabinet position – the Department of Communication – and simply staff it with one person, Bill Clinton.

    But the timetable is inexorable. By next Friday, states have to decide how they will join the new normal. The law’s big aim is to give Americans guaranteed access to health coverage, via “insurance exchanges” where consumers and small businesses can shop online for the best deals. Some states may want to run their own virtual marketplaces; others may want the feds to run it for them. It’s a sign of the new normal that McDonnell, the Virginia governor who had hoped to join Romney’s repeal-Obamacare ticket, now says he’d prefer to have the feds come in.

    And yeah, the House GOP may still try to gum up the machinery – notably, the January 2014 deadline that requires most Americans to buy health coverage. But that’s also the date when a lot more of the law’s benefits kick in. For instance, insurers will be barred from screwing over Americans who have pre-existing health woes (the provision that protects kids is already in effect); and insurers will be barred from slapping lifetime and annual benefit caps on people who are chronically ill. Politically, in other words, the window for Republican obstruction is rapidly closing. The short-hand is simple: They fought to hold back the march of history – and they’ve lost.

    Generations from now, their naysaying will look just as antiquated as this alarmist quote, circa 1961: “One of these days, we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”

    So said actor Ronald Reagan, about a congressional bill that would later be known as Medicare.


    As part of my ongoing post-election mission to share the most priceless examples of conservative spin and hysteria, I bring you Karl Rove. Yesterday, he surfaced again on Fox News with this analysis of why Obama won: “The president succeeded by suppressing the vote, by saying to people, ‘You may not like who I am and I know you can’t bring yourself to vote for me, but I’m going to paint this other guy as simply a rich guy who only cares about himself.'”

    I have a question. Shouldn’t a super PAC operative – having been soundly defeated, having wasted $300 million of donor money – at least have the good grace to stop shoveling manure, at least for awhile?

    Good grief, Karl, give it a rest already. Come to terms with the fact that Obama twice scaled 300 electoral votes, something that your own client, George W., failed to achieve even once. And don’t try to insult our intelligence by claiming that Obama  was “suppressing the vote” – because we all know that winning the persuasion game is not tantamount to “suppressing the vote.” The true definition of that phrase was on display in Ohio and Florida, where governing Republicans cut back the early voting days and hours that most benefited Hispanic and African-American voters.

    And speaking of Hispanic voters (who awarded Romney only 27 percent of their votes), I now bring you today’s second spin entry. It was penned in The Wall Street Journal by Fred Barnes, the conservative commentator probably best known as Rove’s Mini Me. Are you ready for this one?

    “Had Mr. Romney won half the Hispanic vote, he’d probably be president-elect today.”

    And if a frog had wings, it could soar with the birds.


    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1


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