The Republican Party: Wealth before Health.


Earlier this month a booth at the Kentucky State Fair offered people the chance to sign up to ‘Kynect’ the new healthcare coverage facility for Kentucky. It was an incredibly popular booth, with one Republican gentleman who was told he would qualify for tax credits to purchase insurance, commenting:

“This beats Obamacare, I hope.”

– What he didn’t realise, due to all the misinformation and complete myths invented by the Republicans over the past two years…. Kynect is a part of ‘Obamacare’.

Today, very wealthy, insured Republicans in the House voted to make certain that the most vulnerable, uninsured, struggling people – including children – cannot get access to affordable healthcare. They voted to ensure that women cannot get access to preventative care. These are the same Republicans who also voted against the Violence Against Women Act, and against Veterans jobs bills, but voted to continue tax breaks for big oil. This is the Republican Party in the 21st Century.

After the House vote, Speaker John Boehner said:

“The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want Obamacare”.

– John Boehner, heroically defending democratic accountability. Well, not so much. If he is to insist that he cares deeply for the will of the American people, he should perhaps take a look at how those people voted in 2012:

For the Presidency 2012:
Democrats: 65,915,796
Republicans: 60,933,500

For the House 2012:
Democrats: 60,252,696
Republicans: 58,541,130
Republican vote down by 4.8%

For the Senate 2012:
Democrats: 49,998,693
Republicans: 39,130,984
Republican vote down by 7.3%

– In each case, the American people did not want the Republicans to have the power that they currently have. So perhaps the Speaker of the House should pay attention to his own logic, and stop wielding undemocratic power. If your Party lost the popular vote for the two branches of elected power… be a little humble, rather than trying to control the entire country. The only reason the government will be shut down, is if one Party that did not win the popular vote for any branch of power continues its spree of blackmail.

According to a Harvard Study in 2009, 45,000 annual deaths are connected to a lack of healthcare coverage. It further notes that lack of insurance now kills more people than kidney disease. Today, Republicans voted to ensure the apparently very important freedom to lose everything you have if you get cancer, and then to die bankrupt. Republican supporters are out in force hailing their victory:

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There are two Tea Party-esque contentions that appear in most anti-Obamcare arguments. Firstly, that the Affordable Care Act is inherently “Marxist”, and secondly, the Affordable Care Act is government compulsion and therefore, tyrannical. Both are supremely over dramatic, that you begin to wonder who takes it seriously. Especially given that the Affordable Care Act is based largely on a Republican law implemented (and working great) in Massachusetts. Myths have been invented by the Republicans, that are easily discredited. I discredit three Affordable Care Act myths here. All completely over-dramatic and over simplified. But, given that the House is currently controlled by the most over-dramatic faction of one Party (but still didn’t win the popular vote), it must be taken seriously.

It is the first time I have heard the making certain that people purchase Capitalist health insurance, from Capitalists, with money that will go to Capitalist hospitals and corporations, described as Marxist. I can say with much confidence that Marx might have disagreed with this contention a little. Unless I missed the part where the Affordable Care Act calls for worker control of the means of production and distribution, the end of the wage system, and abolition of private property, and profit…. it isn’t Marxism.
The Founders recognised the importance of a healthy population, and the role government can play in ensuring that. By Tea Party logic, The Congress of 1798, under the Presidency of John Adams were Marxists. That particular Congress & President signed into law “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” Article 1 referring to the private owners of ships and vessels:

“..and he shall pay, to the said collector, at the rate of twenty cents per month for every seaman so employed ; which sum he is hereby authorized to retain out of the wages of such seamen.”

– This act created government run hospitals for privately employed sailors, paid for by a mandatory (compulsory, or “Marxist” if you’re a member of the Tea Party) tax on sailors. Not only do we have one Founder – the President – signing off on a government run healthcare program, but another Founder, Thomas Jefferson was President of the Senate at this point, and so we can reasonably assume that both Jefferson and Adams had no problem with government running healthcare programs, paid for by a mandatory tax, that sailors had no choice but to pay.

The second contention has a little more to it, though is still wildly off the mark and deeply flawed in its premise. The contention being, that Obamacare is government compulsion, and that regardless of the context, government compulsion is “tyranny”. This would of course mean that any form of government interference is ‘tyranny’; medicare, public funded schools, public funded roads, public funded police & fire. All of which paid for, whether the individual wishes to or not. Will Republicans be insisting that these are also “Marxist” in need of defunding? What about the Advanced Technology Program, and other taxpayer funded programs to subsidise business? Will Republicans be voting to repeal these?

The Federal agency; Export-Import Bank loaned $2.5 billion to General Electric at a time when the company reduced the size of its workforce by over 200,000 American jobs, and shipped more abroad. The same is true of General Motors. And of course, thanks to tax breaks for big oil, those companies can afford to fund the vote of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who unsurprisingly votes in their favour every time. See here. Did taxpayers get a say on this? No. Has this Republican House voted to end any sort of Corporate welfare? No. They are instead completely focused on ensuring the women cannot access preventative care, that children with pre-existing conditions continue to be left to suffer.

Curiously, one Republican who objects to the ‘compulsion’ element of the Affordable Care Act, is Republican Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker. This, despite the fact that Walker signed into law a Bill that forces a woman who wishes to have an abortion, to have a transvaginal ultrasound, for no medical purpose, whether she wants it or not. The Republicans; keep government out of everything…. except a woman’s virgina, obviously.

A program should be judged on its effectiveness, and its results. Is Obamacare compulsion? Yes. But so is government in general, so is Social Security, so is Medicare, so is fire protection, defence spending, policing, public schools and roads. There is no reason why healthcare should not be considered a protection in much the same way as fire and police. Context is required for each situation. Simply yelling “compulsion!” isn’t good enough.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, the system disincentivised those less wealthy, but who wished to start their own business, through fear of losing health coverage. It just wasn’t worth the risk. The tyranny of health insurance. But now, according to the Urban Institute, those wishing to leave their work and start a business have far more incentive, and freedom to do so, because the Affordable Care Act will offer coverage starting in October that just didn’t exist before, and so far more people will have the incentive to self-employment, and wont be victimised for pre-existing conditions. It is already having a positive effect in Massachusetts. This is freedom enhancing, it is good for the economy, and the complete antithesis of Marxism.

Secondly, when the ‘choice’ is between ill health, or bankruptcy and poverty, it isn’t a choice. It is insurance company mandated poverty. Healthcare is not a commodity on a level equal to for example, a TV or phones or lemonade. Health is vital, it transcends economic and political systems, and is a necessity, not a luxury. If the government required you to buy a TV on threat of punishment, perhaps the case for “tyranny” may be a little stronger. What is far more tyrannical, is the influence of the compulsion for profit at the expense of the life of the person. What is more tyrannical, is the exclusion of vulnerable children from insurance, if it cuts into an insurance company’s profitability. There is no choice for those uninsured. Those children don’t have a choice. Those with pre-existing conditions didn’t have a choice. They aren’t choosing to remain uninsured and highly vulnerable, in the same way that someone has a choice between a Samsung phone, and a Sony phone. There are no benefits to being uninsured. It isn’t a free choice, it is putting your life completely at the mercy of financial circumstance. To pass it off as choice, or freedom, is incredibly insensitive to the struggles of those who suffered from being uninsured.

In lieu of a national healthcare system (which we in the UK are incredibly lucky to enjoy) Health insurance companies have a duty, far beyond private companies that make TVs or cars or guitars, to ensure the most affordable and satisfactory care possible; especially when it involves the most vulnerable including children and those with pre-existing conditions. They hold the lives of people in their company wallets. It is this duty that health insurers did not care too much for. It is a tyranny of profit.

It is the tyranny of profit in a sector that it should not be involved in. That tyranny of profit lead to horrendous insurance company abuses & the exclusion of those with pre-existing conditions. The tyranny of profit lead to companies ensuring they squeezed ordinary people for as much money as possible and offered very little coverage in return. The tyranny of profit lead to 60% of bankruptcies attributed to healthcare costs. The tyranny of profit meant that people suffered and died, because they could not afford insurance. The tyranny of profit lead to insurance companies denying children care…. children. The tyranny of profit ensured that on average insurance companies charged women 50% more than men for the same level of coverage. The tyranny of profit ensured insurance companies were not required to provide preventative care. The tyranny of profit lead to multiple family members suddenly seeing empty bank accounts, loss of homes, loss of hope, just to carry on being alive. And this isn’t compulsion to you? If a person cannot afford health insurance…. they have no choice if they suddenly get sick or injured. This isn’t a choice between what TV to own, this is a choice between suffering physically, or bankruptcy and poverty. That isn’t an acceptable choice. The tyranny of profit ensured this. Those 48 million uninsured did not choose to be uninsured. It wasn’t a well balanced, reasonably arrived at decision, it was compulsion. The tyranny already well established. The Affordable Care Act goes someway to addressing those inherent tyrannical flaws within the system; like prohibiting the truly vile practice of excluding children with pre-existing conditions. It has much further to go, until a universal healthcare system ensures coverage for all regardless of wealth; the mark of a civilised, decent, and caring society cannot be met by the tyranny of profit in a sector it doesn’t belong.

The President must step up and show leadership, because when it becomes clear that one extreme section of one Party is focussed entirely on attacking the President regardless of the outcome for Americans across the country; when that one extreme faction is willing to place the health of vulnerable children into the line of fire and smile whilst they watch the Country burn… the President is in a strong position to fight back.

The Republican Party did not win the Presidency, they did not win the Senate, they lost the popular vote for the House, they have no problem with corporate welfare, and they now vote not only to defund the Affordable Care Act, but to shut down government, unless their unelected demands are met. This undemocratic blackmail bought and owned by big business, is far more tyrannical than anything the Democrats could conceive.

The Republican Party: Of the Rich, By the Rich, For the Rich.

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