Lately we’ve seen a good deal of mockery emanating from various Democratic pundits over the “success” of Obamacare. Over 7 million people signed up! Hahaha, Republicans! YOU LOSE!
Did everyone suddenly forget that the ACA is a terrible, fundamentally conservative paradigm, with deep Republican roots in both Romneycare and The Heritage Foundation? Sure, Republican efforts to block and repeal their own policies make them look like petty buffoons. What else is new? But gloating Democrats are arguably worse: we are witnessing the entrenchment of for-profit healthcare perniciously framed as a successful, liberal model. FAIL.
But okay, let’s assume I’m just some lefty kook (moi?) who is wrong about the delicious awesomesauce that is Obamacare. The U.S. population is about 308,745,538. A new Gallup poll pegs the rate of uninsured Americans at 15.6%, or 48,164,303. Yes, 7 million people signing up is still 7 million people. Yay for 7 million people with access to “affordable” healthcare! But with nearly 50 million people left uninsured and most of the rest tethered to bloodletting insurers, by what metric, exactly, is Obamacare a great success story worth crowing over?
And yet we have Joan McCarter at DailyKos taunting Republicans over the aforementioned Gallup poll under the headline “The uninsured rate is lowest since 2008.” That’s right: pre-Obamacare, before America’s Owners crashed the global economy, the uninsured rate was lower. McCarter even posted this helpful graph from Gallup:
Then we’ve got Andy Borowitz, beloved lefty satirist, relentlessly mocking Republicans over the ACA in The New Yorker:
Boehner: “I Don’t Want to Live in a World Where Seven Million People Get Affordable Health Care”
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—A riveting scene unfolded in Congress today as a tearful Speaker John Boehner took to the floor of the House to tell his colleagues, “I don’t want to live in a world where seven million people get affordable health care.”
Tears streaming down his cheeks, Rep. Boehner appeared unable to maintain his composure as he delivered a speech interrupted by blubbering and sharp intakes of breath.
“What kind of a world is it where anyone can go on the Internet and get health care they can afford?” he said. “Not a world I’d care to live in, or leave to my children.”
As we Professional Mockers™ all know, mocking John Boehner is easier than shooting fish in a barrel. No, really: you can just quote practically anything he says, and your work is done. What’s troubling here is not Andy Borowitz phoning it in, but the underlying assumption that we can declare success with nearly 50 million Americans remaining uninsured and most of the rest beholden to for-profit insurers. (Note, too, the none-too-subtle classism. No Andy, we do not in fact live in a country where “anyone can go on the Internet” to get health care they can afford.)
A few days before that, Borowitz took a shot at another easy target:
Issa Subpoenas Seven Million Americans Who Signed Up for Obamacare
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Accusing them of involvement in “a widespread conspiracy to save President Obama’s failed health-care program,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) today subpoenaed the approximately seven million Americans who have signed up for Obamacare so far.
Arguing that the impressive enrollment numbers “don’t pass the smell test,” the House Oversight Committee chairman told reporters, “Any rational person would come to the same conclusion that I have: namely, that this is a well-orchestrated conspiracy of seven million people trying to make Obamacare look good.”
In case you missed it, the message is “the impressive enrollment numbers.” The joke doesn’t work without it. Perhaps instead, we might have had Issa subpoena the millions who are still uninsured? After all, Republicans are cynical enough to pull a stunt like that, notwithstanding that if they had their way the numbers would be even worse. But that wouldn’t be carrying water for the Grand Lefty Triumph that is the ACA, now would it?
As if we were not dazzled enough by his incisive political wit, Borowitz also went after the easiest target of all time:
President’s Announcement of Health-Care Numbers Angers Opponents of Math
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Tuesday’s announcement by President Obama that 7.1 million people have signed up for Obamacare set off a firestorm of controversy among opponents of math in the U.S. Congress.
Representative Michele Bachmann, a leading member of the anti-math caucus, told reporters, “Throughout the debate on Obamacare, there has been a tacit agreement to leave math out of it. Today, President Obama broke that agreement.”
Hahaha, Michele Bachmann, anti-math caucus, geddit? Hilarious—except for the tiny problem that the math does not make the case for Obamacare.
But the worst by far is Paul Krugman, esteemed liberal economist. Writing in the pages of the venerable New York Times this week, he continues to peddle the same bald-faced lie he has long been repeating: namely, that the president and Democrats had only two choices, Obamacare or immediate single-payer (i.e. nothing).
If it had been politically possible, extending Medicare to everyone would have been technically easy.
But it wasn’t politically possible, for a couple of reasons. One was the power of the insurance industry, which couldn’t be cut out of the loop if you wanted health reform this decade. Another was the fact that the 170 million Americans receiving health insurance through employers are generally satisfied with their coverage, and any plan replacing that coverage with something new and unknown was a nonstarter.
So health reform had to be run largely through private insurers, and be an add-on to the existing system rather than a complete replacement.
Remember, kids: since we can’t have Medicare for everyone right now, we must therefore entrench the insurance companies that provide absolutely nothing that the U.S. government cannot provide cheaper and more efficiently. Q.E.D. And we shall call this “reform!” And while we’re at it, let’s also block drug reimportation from countries where they’re cheaper (which is all of them), and prohibit the government from using its enormous purchasing power to negotiate better prices. What are you, a communist?
Of course Krugman is right that an immediate leap to single-payer was not politically feasible—but no one ever said it was. However, a public option/Medicare buy-in most certainly was. The idea was popular with the public, Nancy Pelosi delivered a House bill with a public option intact, and the entire Medicare infrastructure already exists. Unlike the ACA, it would have created a genuine path to single-payer, and put some real pressure on the Free Market™ to deliver better health care at lower prices. And this discussion occurred in the wake of the bank bailouts, when it would have been trivially easy for Democrats to frame a health care “reform” bill without a public option as the corporate giveaway that it is. But Krugman never mentions any of that. At the time, he was writing inexcusable broadsides entitled “Pass The Bill”, wherein the fact that the president had already secretly sold out the public option while disingenuously pretending otherwise merited no mention. To this day, Paul Krugman continues to whitewash history in favor of this blatantly false narrative.
He helpfully adds:
So my advice to reform supporters is, go ahead and celebrate. Oh, and feel free to ridicule right-wingers who confidently predicted doom.
I have nothing but bottomless contempt for these professional “liberals.” They do far more harm than good by selectively weaving threads of history into pretty lies, and worst of all, spewing imitation-lefty-flavored sauce all over rotten right-wing policies.
Behold: your liberal media.
Beware mockery deployed in the service of the status quo, my friends. It’s a powerful tool, and in the wrong hands it can be downright insidious. I don’t know how many times I have to say this: we must only use our mockery superpowers for good.