Sep 30 2013

You’re Evil, No You Are!

This is Showdown Week in Congress, with the House Republicans attempting to repeal or at the very least delay the start of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Various congressmen and women have railed against the health care bill in the most vitriolic terms. According to what I’ve read, the House, with its GOP majority, has voted to repeal ACA nearly 50 times. And they’re still trying, this time potentially at the cost of shutting down the government, and possibly pushing the United States into default on its debt.

Unlike many others who’ve bloviated to me about how bad Obamacare will be, I truly cannot say whether it will improve health care in the United States. But at least some of its provisions are vital and so far, I have not read about any serious proposal to replace ACA and preserve these guarantees. The ability to get coverage for pre-existing conditions, for example, is a godsend for many families. And coverage for millions of uninsured Americans seems just as vital, particularly when it’s likely we pay these costs anyway via emergency room visits that financially stress hospitals and inflate costs generally. I and most of my friends only hope that ACA will help begin the process of making health care in the United States not only more affordable and more available, but also to help stop the run away costs that plague the sector.

But during Showdown Week, my own attention is on the ridiculous behavior of politicians. I’ve said before that what should be serious discussions about what is good for all Americans seems quickly to degrade into childlike playground fights over who is more popular. Whether one will stand a chance of getting re-elected should rely more on the substance of what one creates, rather than how loudly one can shout.

I’m not hopeful this will end. On the contrary, I think it will get worse and worse during my lifetime. Americans on the fringes—whether it’s the Tea Party or the liberal equivalent—simply do not have the whole country in mind when they votes their interests. I saw this small with highly-political friends voting single issues in the 1990s, and I see this now writ-large in the punitive stance of the Tea Party loyalists. When there are 300 million people to take into account, congressmen need to think about what is right for the middle, not for the edges.