Bryan (itzwicks) wrote,

Musings on the PPACA (aka Obamacare) Debate

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA, aka Obamacare) is perhaps one of the most deceptively labeled, deceptively marketed, and deceptively authored pieces of legislation ever to be created by a US Congress in the history of the Republic.

Signed into law on March 23, 2010, Vice President Biden couldn’t have spoken truer words when, at the signing ceremony, he told President Obama that it was a “big f*cking deal.”

Why would I label it as deceptive in the first place? Consider the history behind it.

Candidate Obama promised transparency in the creation process, to include allowing the public to see the committee process on CSPAN television. Not only did the televised hearings never happen, but the opposing political party was shut out for the majority of the law creation process as well.

To be clear, the Republican Party was not opposed in the general concepts of healthcare reform, but they were clearly not interested in the Democratic version of it.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelolsi not only reneged on providing adequate time for public review of such historic legislation prior to a final vote (one of the key pledges made when she sought the Speakership) , but she was rather cavalier about the manner of which the voting members of the House would consider the bill.

“We have to pass the health care bill so that you can find out what is in it,” she famously said several weeks prior to its passage.

By the time the bill finally arrived for full consideration, few, if any, of the members of Congress had bothered to read the full contents of the 1,000+ pages involved. Good luck tracking down the individuals who will proudly take credit for authoring the actual legislation in the first place.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was tasked to make budgetary assumptions about costs and impact based upon projected economic considerations supplied by the proponents of the legislation. These numbers were then used as part of a marketing campaign to sell members of Congress and the general public about the potential financial stability and effectiveness of the bill. But by using suspect numbers and accounting trickery (i.e. front loading the funding six years ahead before the massive operating costs came out), a major fraud was perpetrated upon the American people.

Candidate Obama and many of the Democrats assured all within the sound of their voices that no one making under $250,000 would see their taxes go up in the process of the healthcare reform overhaul. They further assured voters that if they were happy with their current health plans, that they could keep them. But for millions without healthcare, this had the look and feel of a modern day miracle supplied by a Democratic led government that actually cared about their well-being.

The Republicans couldn’t match the pandering. Add to that a war weary public, who wanted to see real change in the political landscape, the Democrats were given their once in a generation opportunity to get their biggest priority done.

The PPACA eventually passed both houses with no voting support from the Republicans. Within months, the law found its way in the courts, challenged by various state governments and private sector legal firms alike, citing overreach of the Commerce Clause section of the Constitution, culminating in a historic Supreme Court decision, affirming its Constitutionality on June 28, 2012.

President Obama vows to defend the law while GOP candidate Mitt Romney promises to repeal it if elected. In what was already a rancorous Presidential election cycle, the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has made Obamacare a chief focal point for many voters and pundits.

The Democrats are now forced to defend what the high court has called a “tax,” while Republicans will be tasked by actual voters to articulate what they would replace the law with to address the healthcare challenges facing the uninsured, especially those individuals with pre-existing conditions.

The two biggest influences in American behavior are now the US Tax Code, and Obamacare.  The party that runs the country will be in the driver seat as to how the citizenry will conduct their lives based upon what the laws say. And should affordable private sector healthcare collapse (as many believe it will due to the overburdening requirements of PPACA), the calls for one-payer healthcare will be deafening.

A quick look across the pond reveals cracks in the financial stability of such propositions in Europe. It isn’t hard to imagine such problems arriving to our own shores sooner rather than later.

*****

How Americans arrived at this point in history can be summarized by the following two waypoints:

  • Too many people are literally divorced from the true costs of life. From food stamps to first aid, growing numbers of citizens are provided free or reduced government managed services paid for by other people, at rates which will be fiscally impossible to sustain for very long.
  • The sheer volumes of politicians who campaign one way, and then govern another, have left a cynical public leery of both lawmakers and politics in general. Exposed human failings on the part of elected officials, political correctness run amok in both mass media and academia, and a dwindling number of Americans intimately familiar with both theory and reality of how government works, also contribute to the apathy (willing and otherwise) of the voting public.

This did not slow down the conclusion made by Chief Justice Roberts in writing for the majority of the SCOTUS: “Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.

That, in a nutshell, is where we are today, thanks to decades upon decades of lawmakers, goaded upon by the citizens who elected, to not just insure equal opportunities, but to ensure equal outcomes regardless of cost. Legislating utopia and perfect human behavior on North American soil (or anywhere else on earth) is impossible as the architects are human, and the beings having to live with said laws are human. Our very nature is both rebellious and non-conforming, proof of which is seen every day in all manner and station of society.

The best we can do is to limit the impact of the statists (those who believe in enabling the power of government first to resolve issues big and small), the socialists (those who believe in harnessing the power of other people’s money to resolve issues big and small), and the busybodies of the Ruling Class of both parties (those who think that they know how to manage our life choices better than ourselves) from our daily lives.

This is a much harder sell than it sounds.

Consider the example of an unemployed single mother with two children (one with Down’s syndrome, the other with irregular heart issues), no formal education to speak of, no participation or financial support from the father of her kids, and no external family members in which to provide her assistance.

What is she supposed to do about healthcare, let alone basic survival for herself and her family?

Or how about the 30-year-old homeless veteran suffering from PTSD and alcoholism, or the 52-year-old music teacher let go from her school district due to budget cuts?

What are they supposed to do about their healthcare needs?

I am citing fictional extreme examples here, but the real world cases out there are far more disturbing. The reality is that the United States simply doesn’t have the money to dole out the kinds of healthcare that is needed to resolve all of the issues of its citizens, even though the country spends more than most nations on the planet.

Resources are finite. At some point, rationing will occur. And when twenty people show up for a heart transplant, and only four are available, it will no longer be about who has the greatest need, but more about who do you know in the system that can help you ahead of everyone else.

Are we all free range Soylent Green waiting for our turn in line at the senior citizen bug zapper when we turn 70? Come to think of it, that would relieve a bit of stress on the Social Security budget.

Something has got to give.

In the short term, the 2012 Presidential election will be a referendum on both Obamacare, and the fiscal direction that the country will be heading on. The differences between the Democrats and the Republicans couldn’t be starker. To say that there is little to no daylight between the two parties would be the height of deluded statements.

A second Obama term would signal a willing permanence to the PPACA, and acceleration to the fiscal abyss. The US Senate, under the stewardship of Senator Harry Reid and a Democratic majority, have yet to pass a single budget, and are in no danger of doing so prior to Election Day. A Romney Presidency, along with Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, would likely repeal the law, presumably replacing it with one based upon sector solution sets. But the last time that GOP controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, they weren’t exactly known to be the fiscal bastions of constraint, so any missteps this time around would likely spell the end of the Republican Party as a viable national party.

With choices that are wildly different, I suspect that the polls nationwide are going to see higher-than-normal participation rates this fall. If healthcare reform isn’t enough a draw for potential voters to chew on, there are always the issues of national security, the economy, the nomination of at least two more associate justices on the SCOTUS, and much more.

For those who follow history, this election may seem to have a 1980 Carter versus Reagan feel, or even a 1964 Johnson versus Goldwater vibe going on. I beg to differ; I believe that we are staring down a contemporary showdown of 1860 proportions. While there are no literal slaves to speak of, the challenge to freedom and liberty will stir many to the polls.

I honestly pray that there will be no violence when the results of the Obama versus Romney face off are revealed, but there can be no guarantee as to what will happen when one side learns that they lost to the other based upon what the Electoral College number show.

There are people still genuinely angry about the election results of 2000, not fully understanding the mechanics behind the Bush-43 victory, but convinced that the election was stolen from then Vice President Gore. Here is hoping that the final numbers in 2012 leave no room for doubt as to who won and who lost.

The days of sitting on the sidelines of our democratic republic are long gone. If one wishes for a particular outcome, the requirement is to become an activist in said cause, starting with voter registration, and then encouraging like-minded citizens to do the same. The stakes are too high to leave it to others to resolve on their own.

If you have read this far, I thank you for your time and attention. Enjoy your Sunday, folks.

Tags: politics, soapbox
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