Ted Cruz’s ‘Obamacare’ Poll: The results are in!

March 31, 2014

I’ve spent a lot of time recently writing on religion, and not much on politics. And so today I thought I’d check in with how the Republican war on affordable care is going over in the States. Leading the Koch-funded attack on affordable healthcare, Senator Cruz took to his Facebook page last week to conduct a quick poll:

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– The results – after 5 years of a clearly designed Tea Party policy of misinformation – were seemingly not quite what he was hoping for:

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And then there’s more:

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And then there’s a few more:

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And not forgetting these:

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Followed swiftly by these:

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Oh and these:

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And a few more:

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Last one I’ll post, because there’s about 40,000 more YES comments, and that’s particularly difficult to fit on a single blog:

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– The ‘YES’ votes are endless. See for yourself. The result of Senator Cruz’s poll were not what he was hoping to read. Two things are clear: Firstly, Senator Cruz really needs to rethink his social media strategy. Secondly, and most importantly, the Affordable Care Act has withstood five years of Republican misinformation and the most absurd end of World predictions (including the reintroduction of Feudalism, systematic genocide, and the US becoming an Islamic Caliphate outpost), and is beginning to change lives for the better. It is a legacy that the light of history will undoubtedly judge the President positively for.

Today is deadline day for sign ups. If you still haven’t signed up, you can do so easily on healthcare.gov, or call a toll free number: 1-800-318-2596 for advice and support. Don’t believe the misinformation, sign up, enjoy affordable healthcare for you and your family.


A list of things Obamacare leads to…

November 11, 2013

A few months ago I wrote on the absurdities that conservatives tend to invoke when they’re losing an argument that they’ve staked their reputations on. Back then, it was gay marriage. The list of terrible, World ending catastrophes that same-sex marriage was going to inevitably lead to, according to conservatives, was extensive and staggering. But now they’ve moved on to a new subject. And so I thought I’d present a comprehensive list of the most outlandish and absurd suggestions that US conservatives have decided are the product of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act:

  • A Communist takeover of government and the end of the Catholic Church in the US. Here.
  • Following the path of Hitler (you know, the guy who killed 6,000,000 Jewish people in gas chambers, and tried to establish a “racially pure” empire) and Stalin. here.
  • Worse than Watergate. Here.
  • Worse thing since slavery. Here.
  • Armageddon. Here.
  • President Obama killing a variety of old people. Here.
  • Kids having secret abortions at school ‘sex clinic’. Here.
  • The most dangerous piece of legislation EVER passed. Here.
  • President Obama starting a race war. Here.
  • The death of all prosperity. Here.
  • Mandatory microchips implanted into all Americans. Here.
  • The destruction of the institution of marriage. Here.
  • The work of Satan seeking to destroy freedom. Here.
  • Obamacare causes cancer. Here.
  • The reintroduction of Feudalism. Here
  • The Government murdering people based on how productive they are, and children with Down Syndrome being judged by a panel on whether he or she can live or die. Here.
  • Conservatives sent to concentration camps. Here.
  • The US becoming a leading outpost of an Islamic Caliphate. Here.
  • Health insurance companies going along with the Affordable Care Act, are no different to Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps. Here.
  • Systematic genocide. Here.
  • As destructive to personal liberty as runaway slaves being forced to go back to their masters. here.
  • A racist tax against white people. Here.
  • Worse than the Boston bombing. Here.
  • A gay man going to prison because he has no money, and is forced to play roulette, because of Obamacare. Here.
  • Schools preparing children to accept Death Panels. Here.

    Naturally none of them mention the exact part of the bill that lead to their outlandish claim.

    When I began this, I didn’t expect the list to be as long as it eventually turned out to be. We are apparently a generation that is gifted with access to information and fact on a level no previous generation has enjoyed. And yet, it seems that facts and reasoned debate are often drowned out by a deafening constant screech of absurdity that creates an atmosphere in which Michelle Bachmann and Ted Cruz are trusted with political power. They represent nothing more than a comprehensive failure of education and access to accurate information in order to form rational and well rounded democratic decisions. What a waste of a wonderful gift.


  • Bush White House paid for universal health care in Iraq.

    October 15, 2013

    In 2011, ex-Wisconsin Republican Governor Tommy Thompson announced his intention to run for the vacated Senate Seat for Wisconsin in 2012. During the campaign, Thompson told a Tea Party gathering:

    “who better than me, that’s already finished one of the entitlement programs, to come up with programs that do away with Medicaid and Medicare?”

    – Thompson’s inherent desire to ‘do away with’ essential government-run healthcare services was echoed in his earlier campaign press release in which he reads:

    “I intend to continue the fight for a fiscally responsible, market-based approach to reforming our health care system that will improve both access and the quality of care.”

    – Thompson is committed to healthcare as a market. To Thompson, the health of individuals is a commodity. The government cannot provide any meaningful provision of health care according to Thompson. So imagine my surprise when it turns out that in 2004, Thompson was the Bush administration’s top health care official as they signed off on a US funded $950mn universal healthcare plan…. for Iraq.

    Following the war, and with redevelopment in mind, the US was instrumental in the framing and passing of the Iraqi Constitution in 2005. The US Institute of Peace reported:

    “From the time the Leadership Council [this was a group developed outside of the National Assembly made up of senior Iraqi leaders from all sides in order to fast track negotiations] was formed, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad attended meetings regularly, and U.S. Embassy officials were engaged in less-than-subtle efforts to accelerate a final constitution. Several of the early meetings of the Leadership Council took place at the U.S. Embassy. By August 10, the United States was strongly expressing its views on substantive constitutional issues to reach fast compromises that resembled the terms of the TAL… On August 12, in efforts to accelerate the drafting process, the U.S. Embassy circulated its own draft constitution in English”

    – At every stage, the Iraq Constitution was under scrutiny by the US. Nothing was overlooked. And so, along with the funding for a universal health care system, Article 31 of the Iraq Constitution states:

    “Every citizen has the right to health care. The State shall maintain public health and provide the means of prevention and treatment by building different types of hospitals and health institutions. “

    “Individuals and entities have the right to build hospitals, clinics,or private health care centers under the supervision of the State, and this shall be regulated by law.”

    – This article and the establishing of a fundamental right to state-funded healthcare in 2005 to run alongside a well regulated private market, could only have been made possible by the funds allocated by the Bush administration to establish a universal health care system, supported by Republicans in Congress.

    One of those Republican Congressman who spoke on the floor of the House in 2004, defending the Bush Administration’s $950mn universal healthcare project in Iraq was ex-Congressman Duncan L.Hunter. Hunter said:

    “It is hugely important that we provide this infrastructure, this basic health care need to the Iraqi people”.

    – It’s essential to note this, because in 2009, after his tenure in Congress was over, when asked about the Affordable Care Act in the US, the same Duncan Hunter said:

    “Well listen, this is an attempt to socialize our country. And it is one that is attempted at what the architects of socialism and Marxism would view as being a “soft exposure” in the American fabric. That is, people are obviously concerned about health care. It is important to them, and they are concerned about having security with respect to health care. The problem is government healthcare doesn’t provide security. And in most of the cases we see around the world, it provides instead a system that is largely dysfunctional and provides inadequate care.”

    – By his own standards, Hunter worked to create a ‘socialised’, ‘Marxist’, ‘dysfunctional’, and ‘inadequate’ health care system in another country, paid for by US dollars.

    Where was Ted Cruz – the foe of any government interference in health care – you might ask? Well, at that time, Cruz was Solicitor General for the state of Texas, and instead of choosing to fight US funding for universal health care in Iraq, he was busy insisting that the Ten Commandments monument at the Texas State Capitol was in fact Constitutional. So now you know; to stop Ted Cruz threatening the health care of the Nation’s most vulnerable people, and closing down the government… just tell him the Ten Commandments on state buildings are unconstitutional. You’ll never hear from him again.

    With Ted Cruz and fellow Republicans either fully supporting universal health care in Iraq paid for by the US taxpayer, or just entirely silent on the issue, Democrats were raising concerns. In fact, one of the few who raised objections to the project was the then Democrat Senator from North Dakota, Byron Dorgan. On the Senate floor in April 2004, Dorgan suggested the Iraqi government should perhaps securitise future production of Iraqi oil in order to raise funds for reconstruction:

    “It is their job, not the job of American taxpayers to have a program for housing, health care, jobs, and highways in Iraq. That ought not be the burden of the American taxpayer.”

    Another Democrat to raise his concerns, was Tim Ryan (D-OH). On the House floor in 2005, Ryan said:

    “So we are cutting health care, increasing premiums, increasing co-pays, and yet we have created a Welfare system in Iraq.”

    – So whilst Democrats were raising concerns about a US tax payer funded universal healthcare system for Iraq…. Republicans were eerily silent whilst they accepted it without question.

    We should also not forget that whilst the funds provided free training for doctors and nurses in Iraq (rightly so), it coincided with a $278mn cut to the Health Professionals Training Program in the US, and a $93mn cut to community access programs, that same year.

    This was happening whilst the number of US citizens uninsured rose from 38.4 million when Clinton left office, to 46.3 million by the end of Bush’s term. Not one Republican Senator of House Representative threatened government, or default on the nation’s debt over the government funded establishment of universal health care for Iraq.

    A Republican White House, with Republican Congressional support oversaw the framing of the Iraq Constitution that included universal health care as a fundamental human right, provided by the state, and initially funded by $950mn of US taxpayer money, and defended by a Tea Party favourite who now wishes to dismantle all state funded health care provisions.


    Painting Congress Blue 2014: Focus on Candidates V.

    October 12, 2013

    Florida's 19th Congressional District Race. April Freeman

    At the time of writing the first four in my series of articles on Republican House incumbents and their Democratic rivals for the House in 2014, it seemed that for Democrats to pick up the necessary seventeen seats was going to require a significant political disaster by the Republican Party. If the most recent Gallup poll is anything to go by, it is apparent that the Republican Party may have inflicted a wound upon themselves that they might not recover from in 2014.

    Florida’s 19th Congressional District:
    Florida’s 19th is currently represented by Tea Party favourite, Republican Trey Radel. On his Facebook page, Radel posted this:

    Trey Radel misleading Kentucky Obamacare Stats
    – As part of his maniacal effort to defund the Affordable Care Act regardless of the courts or the outcome of elections, Radel is happy to use any PR tactic possible to drum up support for his failing cause. I say that, because the claim in the picture above omits crucial information: The claim relates to a story put out by Fox (obviously) of the Mangione family of four in Kentucky whose monthly premium apparently rises from $333 a month to $965 a month, from private insurer Humana, a few weeks before Kynect (the healthcare exchange) opened. What the story doesn’t tell you, is just who Andrew Mangione – the father – actually is. As it turns out, there is quite the conflict of interest with this story: Andrew Mangione is:

    “…the Vice President, Government Relations, for AMAC. Andy’s career spans the medical device, pharmaceutical and managed care sectors of health care. He has held senior and executive sales positions with organizations including Humana, Inc., Pfizer, Inc. and Invacare Corporation. Andy serves as the lead legislative and government contact in Washington, DC for AMAC, and is also responsible for national grassroots outreach and developing strategic relationships. Andy earned a B.A. in Management from Malone University and his Master of Business Administration from Lake Erie College.”

    – Not only did he hold senior/executive position in his insurance company, the website that he is now the Vice President of Government Relations for, has spent almost all its energy – prior to his appearance on Fox – fighting the Affordable Care Act. This man is one big agenda, so it is predictable that both Fox and Trey Radel decided not to mention his credentials. And $300 a month for a family of four? That’s a hell of a lot cheaper than most pay. Nevertheless, The New Yorker argues that under the new rules, the Mangione family might actually benefit.

    So with that in mind, it is no shock to discover that despite moderate Republicans taking to the airwaves to pin the blame for government shutdown at the door of the Republican Party and its small group of extremists, Radel has decided that those extremists are in the right. Radel told CNN:

    “This entire place is failing the American people”.

    – He’s right. When a Freedom Works memo (The Freedom Works Website lists Radel as a signee of Sen. Mike Lee’s letter to use the CR to defund Obamacare) demands a willingness on the part of the Republicans the group funds, to use the threat of shutdown and its implications to win a policy battle that the Republicans couldn’t win via the usual electoral process, that is a massive democratic failure. One that Thomas Jefferson noted was a threat to the American system of governance:

    “I hope we shall crush… in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

    – But this isn’t what Radel meant. Radel thoroughly disagrees with Jefferson. He seemingly had no issue with the fact that an agreement had already been reached on funding the government, an agreement that hugely favoured Republican demands, only to be reneged on by House Republicans whose corporate backers weren’t happy enough, who now demand the complete defunding of a law they couldn’t repeal through the natural democratic process. Instead, he says:

    “The adults need to come to the table, as Republicans are asking…”

    – The typical spin, to deflect attention from the fact that they caused this. He then goes on to blame the Affordable Care Act for all the nation’s woes. Later in the same interview, and without a hint of irony, Radel says:

    “When you hear the President say he isn’t going to negotiate…. I’m sorry but this is democracy.”

    – Here, Radel, like fellow Tea Party members, has apparently redefined the word ‘democracy’. I am struggling to understand how it is possible to lose the Presidency twice, to lose the Senate, to lose the popular vote for the House, to lose a Supreme Court case, to watch your ratings plummet, when 21 of your own House members are willing to vote to reopen government, and still think that by shutting down the government until you get your way, that the path you have chosen represents “democracy”.

    It is presumably also “democracy” in action when, at 10pm on September 30th, House Republicans voted to amend House rules, by taking away the right of every member of the House of Representatives to bring a clean CR vote to the House floor, and to bestow that right to Eric Cantor only, to ensure a shutdown went ahead.

    According to opensecrets.org, Trey Radel’s 9th biggest donor, is Koch Industries. How surprising. His number one donor is “Every Republican Is Crucial PAC”. This particular PAC is the 2nd biggest donor to the 20 or so dissident Republicans in the House. They are instrumental in propping up support for those who have used the threat of shutdown unless their demands are met. And Radel is doing their bidding. In 2012, his website read:

    “Our country has prided itself on freedom and liberty. Regulations like ObamaCare not only place severe restrictions on our freedom and choice but also threaten the economic livelihood of this country. ObamaCare in particular essentially forces individuals to buy a private product just because they are American. This is another example of the government excessively interfering in the lives of private citizens. This law is not only costly, but will also cause great inefficiencies in the medical industry, and have negative ripples throughout the economy. On Trey’s first day in office, Trey would offer a bill to repeal all parts ObamaCare (regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision).”

    – The phrase ‘regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision’ should be enough to shock anyone who appreciates the system of American governance, as should the Tea Party section of the Republican Party’s complete lack of respect for the outcome of elections that don’t go their way. It is quite incomprehensible, and very anti-democratic. Let’s not be under any illusions. Trey Radel is one of the small group of Republicans responsible for the government shutdown, and backed by very wealthy donors.

    Trey Radel – a man who genuinely believes that Public Enemy’s track ‘Fight the Power’ reflects the message of Tea Party Republicans – is so concerned about the health and wellbeing of his constituents, that he voted ‘NO’ on reauthorising the Violence Against Women Act. Not only does women’s health and rights not concern Radel, but he also voted ‘NO’ on the Sandy Relief Fund and voted in favour of cutting SNAP. I can find no redeeming feature of Radel’s incumbency, it appears to have been a year of making life as difficult for the most vulnerable as possible. Florida’s 19th can do better than that.

    The Democratic challenger to Radel, is April Freeman. Freeman’s website identifies exactly what Florida’s 19th District is currently lacking:

    “Real people, honest and intelligent leadership, hard working and caring public servants, and more independent women.”

    – Honest, intelligence, caring and independent women. Those are the words all progressives would use to describe exactly what the House of Representatives requires more than anything at the moment.

    Freeman has impressive credentials to back up the tagline on her website. She was awarded “2005 Business Woman of the Year” by the Business Advisory Council at a White House Dinner; she is the founder of a company that works for no profit to highlight the lives and memory of gifted individuals who died too soon as a result of mental illnesses, and she’s currently obtaining her law degree. Intelligence, and caring, are two traits that Congress desperately requires, and desperately lacks at the moment.

    Freeman is right to highlight that voter suppression is a dangerous re-introduction to the democratic landscape, and must be a priority to secure fundamental political rights regardless of race, or wealth. Freeman sets out her position to deal with it:

    THE PLAN – Educate local voters in a grassroots effort so they are taught the importance of the early vote & vote by mail in order to relieve the immediate issue of excessive wait times on election days.
    THE RESOLUTION – Support Legislation that would make it illegal for the wait time to exceed 1 hour during Federal elections.

    Whilst 30 years of anti-union, pro-market fundamentalist rhetoric and policy has seemingly lead to very little other than stagnating wages, poverty increases, recession, and jobs off-shored to the detriment of the lives of real human beings, April Freeman recognises the need to rebalance the scale:

    “We need a steady growing economy in SW Florida thus relieving our sole dependence on seasonal residents.
    THE PLAN – Support Unions to bring secure jobs with benefits while strengthening collective bargaining ability in order to build our local economy.
    THE RESOLUTION – Introduce and Support Legislation that will give tax incentives to small business and corporations in right to work states for merging with unions to provide a living wage and benefits, while penalizing for outsourcing jobs to foreign countries.”

    – Freeman’s plans put people right at the centre of policy, and that’s a breath of fresh air for Congress.

    If you value women’s rights, ending violence against women, LGBT rights, the right to vote, economic growth and fairness, campaign finance reform, Protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Veterans issues; then there is absolutely no reason to vote Trey Radel, he fails miserably on all of those issues.

    The Democratic base in Florida’s 19th has to grow if April Freeman is to pose a serious challenge to Trey Radel. But with the public at large placing the blame for shutdown on Tea Party Republicans like Radel, there will not be a more perfect time for Freeman and Democrats in Florida to grow that base. Freeman certainly has a chance to turn Florida’s 19th blue in 2014.

    Vote April Freeman for Florida’s 19th Congressional District in 2012.

    See here for FD’s focus on Florida’s 2nd, and Illinois’ 13th Congressional Districts.
    See here for FD’s focus on West Virginia’s 2nd, and Colorado’s 6th Congressional Districts.
    See here for FD’s focus on California’s 1st, and California’s 25th Congressional Districts.
    See here for FD’s focus on Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District.


    Obamacare: The new myths in town!

    October 10, 2013

    Understanding the Affordable Care Act

    As it slowly becomes evident that death panels – with President Obama dressed as the grim reaper in a Che Guevara t-shirt – just aren’t going to happen; as it slowly becomes clear that there will be no ‘forced home inspections’; when all evidence points to full time work not at all destroyed in socialist flames by the Affordable Care Act… then it becomes predictable that new myths begin to take shape. New poorly constructed, desperate myths that nonetheless go unanswered attach themselves to the general ‘understanding’ of the Affordable Care Act, and so are given time to fester in the collective mind of the United States. There are two new myths in particular that are so easy to discredit, that this will likely be my shortest article in a very long time.

    Healthcare.gov costs the taxpayer $634mn!!
    One new myth that has sprung up and instantly perpetuated by Tea Party writers this week, is that Healthcare.gov has cost $634 million to build. $634,320,919 to be exact. In fact, it’s been reported by news agencies around the World. News Max reported it as fact. The Daily Mail here in the UK reported it, and the story also appears on the ironically named “Examiner”. If they’d have lived up to their name, they’d soon realise that the story is in fact, false.

    According to usaspending, the figure of $634,320,919 to CGI, Inc, was paid over a period of five years – between 2008 and 2013 – for 114 different transactions. One of those contracts was Healthcare.gov worth $93.7 million when originally won. There is no mention on whether the cost was over or under budget on that one transaction. But the fact remains, Healthcare.gov did not cost $634,320,919.

    The Tea Party website referenced above perhaps gives us a glimpse of just why they’re beginning to invent new rumours, backed by weak research, in order to undermine a law that – coupled with the shutdown and an ever decreasing Republican polling number (they are now polling 1% lower than the percentage of Americans who believe in Bigfoot) – could very well lead to a Democrat House elected in 2014. It is desperation:

    “Unlike some Americans, I actually want the Obamacare exchanges to succeed. I’ve given the state-specific options a try (there are 15 of them, including Washington D.C.’s) and they seem to greatly simplify the process of buying healthcare. And the rates do appear to come in far lower than what many people without health insurance from an employer have had to bear until now. It’s not government-run healthcare. There are no death panels. And, from what I can tell, the world will not end if more people have health insurance – quite the opposite, in fact.
    What I cannot stand is a nation that has vast technological resources in its citizenry spending $600 million of our collective money to slap together a product that, thus far, has only managed to waste people’s precious minutes.”

    – Here, they admit that under the Affordable Care Act rates are far lower, it isn’t government-run, there are no death panels, and it is working to help people. All of a sudden, they’re fine with all of that, and they laugh the myths off as almost whimsical (despite spending three years insisting that those Obamacare myths would burn America to the ground), but now it’s the cost of the website that they’re truly opposed to, having spent….. no time whatsoever concerned about it until yesterday.

    Less than 10 people have signed up for Obamacare!
    Yesterday, Buck McKeon (R-CALIF) told CNN that he’d heard rumours (always good to be thorough in your research) that fewer than 10 people had signed up for Obamacare. He’d read it somewhere. And so on that basis, he thought he’d tell the entire Nation, regardless of how true that claim was. Predictably, much like the Healthcare.gov cost rumour, this one is also completely false.

    As of Wednesday, Kentucky, Maryland and Washington State released data showing that over 16,000 had so far signed up. Connecticut has 1,426 applications, New York officials report 40,000 have signed up. 16,311 had completed applications, and another 27,305 have partially completed applications in McKeon’s own state of California.

    In fact, Washington State, despite having a lot of glitches on roll out day for its Washington Health Plan Finder marketplace, the state had 9,452 sign up rather quickly, with a further 10,497 submitted applications but not yet enrolled. 20,000 in less than a week.

    Now, maths has never been a particularly strong point of mine, but I am quite sure, after conducting lengthy sums, that we can conclude that more than 9 people have signed up on the healthcare exchanges so far. And they still have five months and three weeks to sign up. Republicans appears to be shocked that 30,000,000 didn’t all sign up on day one. It’s an odd planet they inhabit.

    So you see, whenever a new Obamacare myth surfaces, instantly posted on ‘reputable’ media outlets, and is left unchallenged, it grows misplaced anger and fear which inevitably leads to genuine concern among certain sections of the US population who simply do not see any reason to doubt six or seven media outlets seemingly confirming what their Representatives are saying, and suddenly, Ted Cruz is elected and the government is shut down. It stems entirely, from misrepresentations and completely invented logic. The shutdown is therefore a product of misplaced fear, constructed by a constant stream of right winged opportunists. And with polls showing a Republican slide into oblivion, there is only one thing to say: Congratulations GOP… you built that.


    Ashamed to be a Republican.

    October 3, 2013

    “We have to do this because of the Tea Party. If we don’t, these guys are going to get primaried and they are going to lose their primary.”
    – Greg Walden (R-OR) on the government shutdown.

    The BBC’s Washington Correspondent told BBC News yesterday that having spoken to a Republican Senator it is clear that at least 100 Republican Representatives believe their Party has is being held hostage by a Tea Party sect of extremists. As the Republican shutdown of government continues, and places heavy strain on a fragile economy, more and more Republicans in Congress are unhappy at the direction and the hostage tactics of their Tea Party colleagues. But it isn’t just in Congress that an incredibly undemocratic Tea Party is alienating Republicans. Their base support is also becoming increasingly angry with the direction of their Party, and they are taking to Twitter to register their disapproval:

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    – The Republican Party’s share of the vote in the Senate & the House dropped in 2012, so much so that they managed to hold the House because of gerrymandering after losing the popular vote. So when proud Republicans in 2013 begin not only to note their disapproval at a particular shift in Party mentality, but are actually ashamed and embarrassed by the tactics of their Party, that drop in the share of the vote could prove to be the nail in the coffin come 2014.


    The Republican Individual Mandate: A forgotten history.

    October 2, 2013

    The President signs the Affordable Care Act into law. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author:  Pete Souza.

    The President signs the Affordable Care Act into law.
    Source: Wikimedia Commons.
    Author: Pete Souza.

    A brief timeline of Republicans and the individual mandate:

    1960s: President Kennedy subtly hints at universal healthcare for America. Republicans don’t know how to react.
    1970s: Republican President Nixon offers market based solution and employer mandate.
    1980s: Republican think tank comes up with individual mandate.
    1990s: Democrats offer ‘HillaryCare’ a step on the path to universal healthcare.
    1990s: Republicans respond by sponsoring market-based Acts with individual mandate attached.
    1990s: Republicans propose individual mandate, to prevent government-run healthcare.
    2000s: Republicans create individual mandate system in Massachusetts.
    2010s: Democrats throw out universal healthcare goal, adopt Republican individual mandate idea.
    2010s: Republicans forget that it was their idea for decades, and decide it’s actually Marxist.

    Through all the misinformation and misleading arguments against the Affordable Care Act, one of the most prominent is the conservative assurance that the individual mandate represents ‘government compulsion’ and so is the death of liberty. With this in mind, it would then seem natural to believe that the Affordable Care Act was conceived in a room of shadowy Marxists, waving an American flag upon which the 50 stars of Old Glory replaced by a hammer and sickle, thinking up devious ways to enslave the American people to the will of the big bad government. And conservatives – in the most over-dramatic fashion possible, are sure of that synopsis:

    obama1
    – Despite ridiculous comparisons to Stalin, slavery, and Nazis, the history of the idea of an individual mandate is in fact a conservative conception.

    Born close to the border between England and Wales, Stuart Butler emigrated to the US in 1975 and has slowly worked his way up the ranks of the conservative Think Tank ‘The Heritage Foundation’, and is currently the foundation’s Director of the Center for Policy Innovation. In 1981, Butler gave a speech on healthcare in the United States, in it he says:

    “We would include a mandate in our proposal–not a mandate on employers, but a mandate on heads of households–to obtain at least a basic package of health insurance for themselves and their families. That would have to include, by federal law, a catastrophic provision in the form of a stop loss for a family’s total health outlays. It would have to include all members of the family, and it might also include certain very specific services, such as preventive care, well baby visits, and other items.”

    – Here we have for the first time, an influential right winged think tank proposing ‘government compulsion’ within the healthcare market. This idea was pushed an alternative to universal healthcare, which of course was then described as ‘government compulsion’ whilst the individual mandate promoted as a reasonable market-driven solution. Republicans today complaining that the President is not compromising appear to not understand that Obamacare absolutely is the compromise.

    Conservatives including the Heritage Foundation today claim they changed their position in the early 90s and were now against the mandate. This isn’t exactly the case. They were against inclusion of the mandate in a Democratic authored Bill, not because they suddenly disagreed with the principle of an individual mandate, but because of the projected cost of the Democrat plan. We know that Butler was not against the idea of an individual mandate in principle, because in 2003 he told Congress:

    “The obligations on individuals does not have to be a “hard” mandate, in the sense that failure to obtain coverage would be illegal. It could be a “soft” mandate, meaning that failure to obtain coverage could result in the loss of tax benefits and other government entitlements.”

    – Are Republicans in 2013 willing to suggest that the Director of the Center for Policy Innovation at a leading conservative think tank, is advocating ‘Marxist’ forced government interference, with his 25 year support for an individual mandate?

    In 1991, Mark Pauly – the lead author of a Health Affairs paper – wrote a paper for President Bush insisting that an individual mandate to purchase private health insurance was an effective way to keep government from nationalising healthcare. The individual mandate, in other words, was an anti-socialist principle in 1991. Pauly says:

    “I was involved in developing a plan for the George H.W. Bush administration. I wasn’t a member of the administration, but part of a team of academics who believe the administration needed good proposals to look at. We did it because we were concerned about the specter of single payer insurance, which isn’t market-oriented, and we didn’t think was a good idea. One feature was the individual mandate.”

    – So, all through the ’80s, ’90s, and early 00’s, Republicans and conservatives were touting an individual mandate for purchasing private health insurance, as a conservative principle designed to derail nationalised healthcare.

    In 2011 Tea Party favourite Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) referred to an individual mandate as:

    “…the unconstitutional employee mandate.”

    – Leaving aside the fact that the Supreme Court upheld the mandate, back in 1993 Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was a co-sponsor of a Healthcare Bill introduced by Republicans, that included an individual mandate. He fully supported it, along with current Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and Richard Lugar (R-Ind). Senator Grassley is currently on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and supported Ted Cruz’s miserable attempts to defund The Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate, twenty years after he proposed and supported a similar Act. Senator Lugar (co-sponsor of the 1993 Act that included the individual mandate) is responsible for pushing Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller to question the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Both Senators support an individual mandate when Republicans propose it so much so that they co-sponsor it…. they’re then anti-individual mandate when Democrats compromise and propose it.

    Instead of registering outrage at the ‘Marxist’ government compulsion involved in mandating individuals to purchase private health insurance (the strangest understanding of the concept of Marxism I’ve yet come across), Mitt Romney when governor of Massachusetts embraced it whole-heartedly. In 2006 the state of Massachusetts passed ‘An Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care’. Dubbed ‘Romneycare’, chapter 58 requires that all citizens of Massachusetts purchase health insurance coverage. Before signing the Act into law, Governor Romney vetoes eight provisions in the Act. Predictably, he vetoed providing dental help to the most vulnerable on Medicaid, and particularly heartlessly, he vetoed providing State funded care for legal immigrants with disabilities. What Romney didn’t veto, was the individual mandate. He seems to have been perfectly fine with that section. But don’t accept my word for it, here is what Romney himself had to say in 2006:

    “With regards to the individual mandate, the individual responsibility program that I proposed, I was very pleased that the compromise between the two houses includes the personal responsibility mandate. That is essential for bringing the health care costs down for everyone and getting everyone the health insurance they need.”

    And as a conservative idea, it seems to have worked. Conservatives should be proud. It’s a good idea. The Urban Institute released a report in 2010, that noted 98.1% of residents were insured, compared with 83% nationwide. 99.8% of children were now covered. 99.6% of seniors now covered. In 2011, the National Bureau of Economic research released a report noting that:

    “…health care reform in Massachusetts led to better overall self-assessed health and improvements in several determinants of overall health, including physical health, mental health, functional limitations, joint disorders, body mass index, and moderate physical activity.”

    – It works. Democrats adopted a Republican idea that works.

    But it isn’t just the individual mandate that began life as a conservative idea. Let’s not forget that the employer mandate was first accepted by a Republican President. In 1974 President Nixon stood in front of Congress and offered his idea for comprehensive healthcare reform. He stated:

    “Every employer would be required to offer all full-time employees the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan.”

    – Every employer. The Democrat President in 2012 has watered down this conservative proposal, and mandated that in 2015, only employers with over 50 employees provide health insurance for their workers, with the first 30 employees exempt. This is a major difference from what conservatives were offering with employer mandated health reform. Would Republicans be willing to accept that President Nixon was more ‘Marxist’ and anti-business, than President Obama? I suspect not.

    It’s worth noting that Kennedy and the 1960s Democrats first argued the case for universal healthcare in the US. The UK had created the NHS after World War II during the wonderful Prime Ministerial reign of Clement Atlee. The NHS is a national treasure today. President Kennedy stood in front of an audience at Madison Square Garden and argued the case for a National Health Service in the US. Since then, Republicans have focused on reacting to Democrats on health care. First, they reacted by offering a market based solution that included an individual mandate to counter universal health care. For this, they also at times argued for an employer mandate. And now, the react by opposing Democrats, and previous generations of Republicans, but offer nothing new. The Republicans represent opposition to the President whatever he says or does, badly masked as a practical alternative.

    It seems that for the majority of the past half a century, pre-Tea Party Republicans understood that healthcare is not a commodity like any other. That it isn’t based on choice in the first place. It is a necessity, and represents a product that can be the difference between life and death, and so it must be treated differently, focusing on the human aspect rather than the profit aspect first and foremost. Republicans in the past have understood that. Whilst universal healthcare is the ideal, it is still far away from being released in the US, and so until then Obamacare is a good, practical alternative that was first conceived by thinking Republicans, and that works well. We mustn’t be under the impression that Republicans oppose Democrats on health reform for any practical reason – after all they’ve offered no alternative – other than their traditional aimless opposition to Democrats on health reform, even if it was their own idea in the first place.