Contemptible

This time, I’m talking about the US Congress, not the North Carolina General Assembly.  Great, great column from Norm Ornstein.  Read it.

When Mike Lee pledges to try to shut down the government unless President Obama knuckles under and defunds Obamacare entirely, it is not news—it is par for the course for the take-no-prisoners extremist senator from Utah. When the Senate Republicans’ No. 2 and No. 3 leaders, John Cornyn and John Thune, sign on to the blackmail plan, it is news—of the most depressing variety…

It is important to emphasize that this set of moves is simply unprecedented.

What is going on now to sabotage Obamacare is not treasonous—just sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials with the fiduciary responsibility of governing…

But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation—which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil—is simply unacceptable, even contemptible. One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate—even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists—takes one’s breath away.

In a similar vein, Drum:

Here’s the latest conservative brainstorm to make Obamacare fail:

With the Obama administration poised for a huge public education campaign on healthcare reform, Republicans and their allies are mobilizing a counter-offensive including town hall meetings, protests and media promotions to dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage.

….”We’re trying to make it socially acceptable to skip the exchange,” said Dean Clancy, vice president for public policy at FreedomWorks, which boasts 6 million supporters. The group is designing a symbolic “Obamacare card” that college students can burn during campus protests.

“Socially acceptable” indeed. So not only are they going to be encouraging people to break the law, they’re literally going to be encouraging people not to buy health insurance. Nice. I wonder if FreedomWorks plans to help out the first person who takes them up on this and then contracts leukemia? I’m guessing probably not.

What’s next? A campaign to get people to skip wearing seat belts? To skip using baby seats in cars? To skip vaccinations for their kids? It’s times like this that words fail those of us with a few remaining vestiges of human decency.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

7 Responses to Contemptible

  1. pino says:

    With the Obama administration poised for a huge public education campaign

    One of the arguments in support of Obamacare was that it wouldn’t need to pay millions of dollars in marketing fees that contribute to higher costs in the private space. It is telling that there is no liberal argument against the millions of dollars that the Obama administration is going to spend pushing his law.

    So not only are they going to be encouraging people to break the law, they’re literally going to be encouraging people not to buy health insurance.

    Following laws has become optional. Consider Obama’s decision not to punish offenders of immigration law. Perhaps the law is bad, perhaps it’s not. But it is law. And he’s encouraging people to break it.

    Please be more consistent.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Spending money to properly implement a law is not exactly the same thing as the money Aetna spends on marketing. Properly implementing the law means getting people educated and signed up. That takes money. As for immigration… Apples oranges.

      • pino says:

        not exactly the same thing as the money Aetna spends on marketing

        Funded by $37 million in state grants, four dozen diverse groups from around California — including labor unions, civil-rights advocates, medical clinics and the Los Angeles Unified School District — are preparing to launch education programs promoting Obamacare, the national health-care plan set to take effect in January.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/12/california-obamacare-grants_n_3580525.html

        And then this:

        CHICAGO (AP) — It will make you stronger. It will give you peace of mind and make you feel like a winner. Health insurance is what the whole country has been talking about, so don’t be left out.

        Sound like a sales pitch? Get ready for a lot more. As President Barack Obama’s health care law moves from theory to reality in the coming months, its success may hinge on whether the best minds in advertising can reach one of the hardest-to-find parts of the population: people without health coverage.

        The campaign won’t come cheap: The total amount to be spent nationally on publicity, marketing and advertising will be at least $684 million, according to data compiled The Associated Press from federal and state sources.

        http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/07/25/obamacare_national_marketing_campaign_to_cost_nearly_700_million_119368.html#ixzz2a77G1FpX

        Apples oranges.

        Meh.

        When we get to pick the laws we like, we should expect our opponents to do the same.

        Don’t like immigration law? Don’t enforce it.
        Don’t think that unions should be subject to Obamacare? Exempt them.

        It’s his bed, he made it.

      • Steve Greene says:

        Just to be clear. Getting young eligible people to sign up is exactly what is needed to properly implement the law following the logic here. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/07/todays-healthcare-refresher-heres-why-we-need-individual-mandate

        And I’ll give you a point on immigration, but there’s certainly a difference between actively working to undermine a law and using the discretion of the executive branch in how your enforce the law as it applies to a small subset of immigrants.

  2. pino says:

    And I’ll give you a point on immigration, but there’s certainly a difference between actively working to undermine a law and using the discretion of the executive branch in how your enforce the law as it applies to a small subset of immigrants.

    If I were elected President in this caustic environment, the first thing I would do would be to implement a low tax structure by using the that very same discretion. I would simply exempt those folks and corporations from paying taxes that I thought were too high.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the policy that is the Dream Act. In fact, I’m for very open immigration laws, if any at all. I just happen to think that the President is obligated to enforce laws on the books.

  3. Gabriel says:

    Hasn’t Obama deported more illegal immigrants then any other President? Or was that some other black President of the USA?

    Changing the law to allow for a path to citizenship isn’t “not enforcing” a law, it’s changing the law.

    Consistency would be nice.

    • pino says:

      Hasn’t Obama deported more illegal immigrants then any other President?

      Yes, he has. Unsure of what you think that demonstrates, however.

      Changing the law to allow for a path to citizenship isn’t “not enforcing” a law, it’s changing the law.

      Two for two – you’re right again.

      But we’re not talking about the very legal process of encouraging congress to pass favored legislation and then signing it into law.

      What we ARE talking about is the act of changing existing law without going through that legal process of legislation. In this case, immigration. Currently it is illegal to be in the country without documentation; child of immigrant or not. Obama has decided that he is going to effectively change that law by simply not enforcing it. And, what’s worse, is that he’s not going to fail to enforce it for everybody, just those that qualify as dreamers.

      And all of this is to point out that while republicans are trying to change existing law by failing to fund it, the practice of circumventing normal process is hardly unique to the right.

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