Judging from the hysteria of my conservative friends, we are already there. Only they noticed the gradual drop of the handbasket. The rest of us were blissfully ignorant.
I am of course referring to the confirmation by the Supreme Court of the Allordable Health Care Act. Of course, what is lost in the hysteria is what the Supreme Court actually ruled. They didn’t say it was a good idea (although I think it is, in a flawed sort of way). They said Congress had the power to pass the law under their powers of taxation.
Which is very, very interesting. I always understood it to be a tax. But I was surprised to learn that Congress went out of its way to avoid the word “tax”. The Supreme Court said the govenment’s argument that Congress had the power to enact the law under the Commerce Act did not hold water. I completely understand that. The Commerce Act enables the federal government to regulate interstate commerce, not to force people to buy a product.
In what seems like a hair-splitting move, the Supreme Court said Congress can’t force you to buy a product, but they can tax you if you don’t. What’s the difference? Congress called this tax a penalty–but it’s paid to the IRS and is based on income. Chief Justice John Roberts said, if it walks like a tax and quacks like a tax, it’s a tax.
What stuns me is the lack of understanding about what the law is supposed to do. Perhaps particularly that those who need it and could benefit from it the most are the people who hate it most. Immediately after the Supreme Court decision, one of my Facebook friends posted “Bend over America.” One of my employees said, “They will just have to take me to jail, because I can’t afford insurance”. You have to hand it to the Republicans. They’ve done an excellent job of mixing up the ideas of personal freedom and patriotism with the idea of personal benefit.
Remember when it used to be a “government takeover of healthcare”? Last week on TV, John Boehner said it’s a “government takeover of the insurance industry”. (Like that would be a bad thing?) Of course, he’s still wrong. It’s regulation of the insurance industry. It amazes me that Republicans have been able to convince people with no insurance to rally around the insurance industry, in the name of personal freedom and patriotism. Neat trick. Government and regulation are four-letter words. First they will go after the insurance companies. Next step: they will be at your door trying to take away your guns. Please.
It’s hard to even have a semi-logical conversation about this. I didn’t even try until yesterday, and it fairly quickly devolved into “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” (From him to me.)
To some extent, both sides start with a philosophy. His is: whatever you get takes away from what I get. I talked myself blue in the face about how he is already paying for other people’s health care, and this is at least an attempt to even it out.
Back to the employee who said they would have to take her to jail. So, my take on that is that as far as she’s concerned, things are just fine the way they are. She does get health care. It’s just that I’m paying for it.
I’m not entirely a bleeding heart liberal on this. Because it slays me that rather than pay a miniscule amount to contribute to her own health care, she is willing for me to keep paying for it. How fair is that?
And I am rapidly approaching the inability to pay for both of us.
I don’t know if the AHCA is the answer. But something has to change.