The government shutdown continues with no end in sight as I write this. Sure, an agreement will be reached, but it will be because of a crisis, whether a consequence of not raising the debt ceiling, or because the Republicans will see their poll numbers drop like a sack of rocks. In the meanwhile Obama is the ogre responsible for everything that is wrong with America. The failure to create jobs, the shrinking of the military, increasing welfare benefits to the poor (corporate welfare is off the table among ideologues), and a host of other things gone south. Never mind that congress is the one that passes spending bills. That’s an irrelevant detail when you want to accuse Obama of being a dictator, a socialist, or a Nazi.
Right now Obamacare is still the favorite punching bag of conservatives. One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry when it is characterized as socialized medicine. The fact that I will still be choosing my own doctors and specialists within my private plan is irrelevant. Also irrelevant is that their payments will come from private insurance companies. My three main doctors all accept Medicare, but you wouldn’t know it if you listen to the horror stories from reactionary radio. His Porkulous, Rush Limbaugh, never fails to demonize Obamacare and Medicare, yet he wouldn’t have any experience with either, especially because he admitted one time that he doesn’t need health insurance. Lucky him.
Obamacare has been mythologized like Ronald Reagan (whom I voted for twice with no regrets). Whether the cost of healthcare is going up or down seems to depend on who you talk to. I have read countless accounts from both sides. For sure, though, you can’t depend on reliable information from people that you should trust, like our state insurance commissioner Ralph Hudgens. He should be neutral on the subject and provide real facts instead of declaring outright that he is out to destroy the program. Recently the AJC interviewed people representing different segments of society for their views of Obamacare. One woman said that she opposed it. She continued that she liked the provision that eliminated preexisting conditions and the one that kept her son on the family plan until he reaches 26. Yet she declared that she couldn’t support the mandatory provision, the one component that Obamacare needs if it is to work.
I haven’t forgotten that my healthcare costs have risen dramatically each year since about 1993. I have also experienced the hassle of my doctors arguing with my insurance carrier on whether they will pay for a certain drug that the doctor says is more effective than the alternate one the insurance company wants prescribed, or whether or not the insurer will pay for a needed MRI. So much for the myth of the doctor/patient relationship in the private sector. But that’s what the Obamacare demonizers want you to believe, that you really do have a doctor/patient relationship in the private sector vice an insurance company relationship versus the patient and the doctor.
As the government shutdown continues, in addition to the attacks on Obamacare, federal employees are also confronting the public firing squad. What most don’t know is that the good paying jobs are those that require education, skills, experience, drug testing and background check that are usually more extensive than in the private sector. Many have skills, such as the nuclear engineers with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that would pay in the private sector multiples of what they make working for the government. And that’s just one example. If this shutdown continues, more people will feel the immediate effects, and the ripple will become more of a tidal wave with time.
Perhaps an illustration of why the two sides can’t come to agreement can be summed up by a guest column in the MDJ. The columnist said, “Obama and the Democrats hate the military, they infantilize, punish and use the troops as political pawns regularly.” There was a time when being a member of one political party or another didn’t infer that you were un-American or some kind of lout. I wonder if Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs as a helicopter pilot in Iraq, hates the military? I am not a Democrat but vote mostly Democratic today, but I loved my time in the military and tell the world that it shaped my life. With this kind of incivility that is shared by many on the right, we are probably in for some hard times ahead. Modern day American politics at its worst.