Why deal in reality when stories are good?


Here are some facts that people will choose to ignore so that they can hold to what they have been told to believe. These are the people who think it is logical to equate a bad computer program with the Affordable Care Act, and listen to the red states that rely on federal money to survive while claiming federal money is government overreach; ask for the most FEMA money while condemning FEMA; attempt to control what students learn while having the lowest student achievement; and have the worst health in the country while saying universal healthcare is a bad thing.

As has been stated before, and denied by those too lazy to look it up, in 1989 the Heritage Foundation came up with the idea of universal healthcare reform that included an individual mandate.

That was under a Republican president who did not jump on the idea during what was supposed to be his first term, and who wasn’t able to get around to it because he didn’t get a second.

The rest of the story has been covered in my blog, but for those with short memories, the Heritage Foundation’s idea was presented a second time by republicans in 1993 as an alternative to Democratic President Clinton’s idea.

Later, President Obama, who originally did not like the idea, was convinced to accept the individual mandate, but for some reason, most likely because it was him and not a Republican president, the Republicans and the Heritage Foundation suddenly hated their own idea.

Apparently hoping people would be too distracted to remember that the whole ACA idea and much of its provisions were from the Heritage Foundation and the GOP, these two groups have been a little hyperbolic in their rejection of their own idea, going so far as to make things up to show that their opposition is legitimate.

It’s a bit of that Randian belief that “Misinformation can be very important" and “Misinformation works."

I can only imagine that if the 2008 elections had gone differently the ACA would be the best thing in the history of America and the world, even better than slavery that certain Republicans also believe was good for the slaves because they got housing, while others believe that a baby conceived through rape is a gift from a God who planned to bring the child into the world that way.

A number of years ago, actually not that many, when I was advocating for Gay students in an extremely conservative city, there was an administrator at my school who obstructed any progress I was making, often going out of her way to do that. She was itching for a promotion to a principal position, and figured her obstruction would show her loyalty to the powers that be and would play in her favor.

She eventually did get a name change to the position she held along with a little more power, but she did not get the big prize. She immediately instituted some of the very things she had been preventing as she now had nothing to gain by her obstruction, and then announced that in spite of anyone else’s attempts, only she could bring about the desired changes to the treatment of Gay students.

Of course she could do this because she now allowed all those things she had been preventing, and took credit for the work of others.

I can’t help but see a parallel with how the Republicans are approaching their obstruction to all things Obama, and would bet that if they get control in the next election they will simply rename and then institute some of the very things they object to now.

Among their bits of misinformation, the Heritage Foundation released a report that said that people are going to pay more for insurance under “Obamacare”. It’s a favorite conservative talking point after all. But what they routinely fail to mention is the financial help that the Affordable Care Act gives uninsured people to purchase insurance, one of the law's central provisions.

In realty the sticker price for insurance isn't what most people are going to actually pay. There are tax credits on a sliding scale for people making between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has determined that more than half of uninsured Americans have an income within that range with another 38% falling below the poverty line. That 38% are eligible for Medicaid under the law, and millions in poverty will be covered that way.

That’s the plan anyway, but more than 20 Republican states have refused to expand Medicaid coverage to them. So, people in those states are out of luck, but that wasn't the ACA's intention. That is a result of states that have chosen to deny the benefits of the ACA to their citizens.

That leaves only 10 percent of uninsured Americans who would be paying the premiums that Heritage highlights in its analysis. It’s a lot less than the "most" or "every" we are being told about.

One of the big goals of the ACA was making coverage purchased through the individual market, where prices have historically been higher, more affordable through the tax credits.

So it seems a little disingenuous to say people will pay more if you don't calculate what they'll actually pay.

When asked about this mathematical slight of hand, Heritage Foundation’s Drew Gonshorowski and the person in charge of its study said, "I wanted this research to really focus on how the insurers are pricing and responding to the completely new environment. I really wanted to provide a contribution to the discussion that is lacking when you look at releases from the Health And Human Services, which is a real attempt to compare plans to the past."

He added that the foundation was conducting more research to figure out how subsidies would affect the premium-cost landscape, but when asked if the conclusion about individuals spending more was an overstatement, Gonshorowski was silent.

Along with this, in red states the Affordable Care Act is being purposely sabotaged. Some states have refused to have state exchanges, forcing their citizens to go to the federal web site, and in some states the politicians refuse to give any helpful information to their constituents. The end result is a self-fulfilling prophesy. The ACA is failing in those states because they are making it fail.

Also, in states that established state exchanges, people are not experiencing the problem accessing the federal page as they do not need it.

But, ignoring the contrary experience of those in states that are supporting the ACA, and employers who get less press because they have no problem connecting healthy and happy employees to greater productivity, the most vocal politicians who speak against the ACA often appear to be from an alternative reality.

Ignoring two World Wars, the AIDS Epidemic, the influenza epidemic during World War I, the Great Depression and other cataclysmic events, Ben Carson, a conservative surgeon and activist, announced that “Obamacare” is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery”, and Indiana republican Representative Todd Rokita declared it was "one of the most insidious laws ever created by man”, apparently worse than the Nazi’s Final Solution, the genocide of Native Americans, and anything Sharia can come up with.

Michele (I get government subsidies, but you can’t) Bachmann claims that “Obamacare” will make America a police state and will be called “Death Care” in the future. Oh, and it is a sign of the “end times”.

Rick (Please don’t Google my name) Santorum sees “Obamacare” as the direct “descendant of the French Revolution.”

And, according to Arizona’s Brenda Barton, “You better read your history. Germany started with national health care and gun control before [the Holocaust] happened. And Hitler was elected by a majority of people.”

Of course anyone who knows real history knows Hitler was not elected, but was appointed Chancellor. But, hey, why let facts get in the way of a good Hitler scare?

According to these guys, the Heritage foundation has to be the womb of fascism since the ACA was originally its idea.

Romney had to have been a Hitler type since he said that Romneycare was “the ultimate conservatism” and “that’s why the Heritage Foundation worked with us… [they] recognized that the principles of free enterprise and personal responsibility were at work”, “we got the idea of an individual mandate… from [Newt Gingrich], and [Newt] got it from the Heritage Foundation.”

I have friends in Canada who have no idea why we would call the Affordable Care Act “socialized medicine” when, in fact, it is Universal Healthcare, and then nickname it “Obamacare” so people would reject a program that has a number of (highly popular) new regulations on insurers; exchanges where private companies offer a variety of insurance plans; subsidies that make those plans more affordable for the middle class; an expansion of Medicaid for the poor, and a mandate which makes those popular regulations work, regulations that Romney referred to it as his “personal responsibility program”.

Besides the usual Hitlerian references (I mean, who hasn’t been called Hitler since WWII?) people like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio like to proclaim that the law has already proven to be a disaster even though the employer mandate does not go into effect until next year, among other minor details.

Cruz, who has already employed Joe McCarthy’s “I have a list of names” while waving empty papers, and many other Tea Party people in Washington who like to make blanket, unproven statements as if just saying something will make it true, like the often repeated “It’s a job killer” in spite of private sector jobs being added every month since the ACA’s passage in march 2010, has said some things not reflected in any objective reality.

Even the constant repetition of the threats by major companies that they would cut employee hours in order to avoid “Obamacare” has proven to have been cancelled out by actual actions of those employers. What some of them had stated as one of many possible reactions to “Obamacare” got reported as the only thing being considered.

Some conservative news outlets are so desperate to support their anti-ACA stories that people like Sean Hannity interviewed three people who, after saying they had suffered because of the ACA, admitted, when questioned after the broadcast, that that wasn’t really the case. In one noted case the owner of a small business told Hannity's listeners that because he had reached a certain number of employees his insurance payments increased greatly, but then admitted when questioned that he actually only had three.

When a CBS poll showed that 51% of respondents were not happy with the ACA, as opposed the 43% who were, people like Ted Cruz claimed, “The fundamental problem in Washington is Washington not listening to America”, and that the poll showed these 51% wanted “Obamacare” repealed.

What the poll actually showed was that 20% of that 51% didn’t think the law went far enough, and, so, did not want it repealed, but broadened. So it was actually 63% in favor and only 33% against.

That cancels the widespread belief among conservatives that public opinion is on their side.

Also revealed was that as they claim they speak for the American people, only 25 percent of the American people they claimed they were speaking for approved of shutting down the government to block the law.

In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll respondents approved of 10 of 11 provisions from the ACA that they had been shown. The provision they did not like was the “personal responsibility program” Newt Gingrich got from the Heritage Foundation and then passed on to Mitt Romney. What’s more, the elements of the law people liked best were among those that the fewest respondents knew about until shown them by the KFF.

To further confuse people into turning against the ACA, conservatives are claiming that the computer glitches are proof that the ACA is a disaster when in reality the only thing the glitches prove is that the computer program has problems. My not putting gasoline in my car and its subsequent stopping is not a judgment on the car.

Ironically, shutting down the government in order to show people “Obamcare” has to go, actually got people to start questioning the negative claims that justified shutting down the government before the ACA even began.

It got people to question what they were being told, who may not have questioned otherwise .

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