According to Ted Cruz, his favorite story is Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.” (1) He even read it as part of his faux filibuster on Tuesday. Unfortunately, I think this “I Can Read it All By Myself” beginner book was above his level of comprehension. He read the words but did not understand the meaning.
For the uninitiated, the protagonist in the story has decided that he does not like green eggs and ham. Not on a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train, in a tree, in a box, with a fox, in a house or with a mouse. The only problem is that he has never actually tried them. When Sam-I-Am badgers him into eventually taking a taste he actually does like them. It is a healthy lesson for picky eaters of all ages. Perhaps it is also a lesson that opponents of healthcare reform should take to heart.
When Cruz claims that “Obamacare is failing the men and women of America” (2) he is conveniently disregarding the fact that the law has not been fully implemented. It is an act of intellectual dishonesty and the equivalent of declaring that one does not like green eggs and ham because they tasted them before the meal was even cooked. Perhaps we should let the chef finish before we declare that his food tastes awful.
The Senator from Texas is correct when he states that the American people want “truth from their elected officials” and that “it is time...to make DC listen.” (3) The truth is that the American people understand that the health care system was not working. Healthcare reform was a highly visible plank in President Obama’s winning 2008 campaign. Repealing the law was one of the things that Romney promised to do on day one of his proposed presidency, but he lost the election. With the exception of the individual mandate, the separate provisions of Obamacare remain popular with the American people. (4) The members of the TEA Party Caucus are not listening when they hold the government hostage in an effort to end healthcare reform.
The common refrain from the Republicans is that they want to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. This is the same party whose strategist recommended “sight unseen, oppose it” to how to craft a compromise to President Clinton’s proposal to reform health care. (5) The Republicans who swept into the majority in the midterm elections of 1994 did nothing to solve the problem. In the eight years of the Bush administration the issue was not touched while “insurance premiums as paid both by workers and their employers roughly doubled.” (6) Throwing Obamacare out now threatens to return us to a status quo where 49.9 million Americans were uninsured. (7)
Perhaps the group most impacted by Obamacare are the 95% of young adults who want insurance but cannot afford it. (8) Under this law they are allowed to stay on their parent’s insurance plans until age 26. Those who do not have access to a policy through their parents will now be “eligible for subsidies or Medicaid under Obamacare.” (9) Conservative activists are targeting the remaining 5% urging them to “opt out of Obamacare” to protest the new law with an ad that ends with Uncle Sam holding a speculum. (10) The party that brought us legally mandated transvaginal ultrasounds is now discouraging young people from taking personal responsibility.
Any law as complicated as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not going to be perfect in it’s first iteration. The problems with this law were exasperated when Republicans put all of their efforts into blocking reform instead of participating in Obamacare’s creation. When their parliamentary maneuvering forced the Democrats to choose between letting the issue die (again) or sticking with what they had, they decided to approve the bill knowing that it could always be amended at a later date. Republicans would be a lot more productive if they worked together with Democrats to impr instead of abandoning a law that has not even been given a chance to succeed.
The Republicans are currently focusing on what they call the job killing properties of the law. Under Obamacare companies with 50 or more employees are required to provide health insurance or pay a penalty to the government. Full time is defined as working 30 or more hours per week. In my workplace this has allowed students who do not work a 40 hour week to be eligible for health insurance coverage. However, some companies, like Sea World, have reduced the hours of employees. (11) Even though the President has pushed back enforcement of this part of the law for a year, Senator Cruz says that these employers are taking this action so that they can avoid the employer mandate.
If Obamacare is indeed hastening our slide towards becoming a “part-time nation,” then this can be fixed easily. (12) The Democrats should immediately put forth a proposal to eliminate the differentiation between part-time and full-time workers. Not only would this increase the number of people being covered by health insurance, it would provide a counterweight to all the other reasons that employers have for not scheduling employees for a full 40 hour week. The cost to insure an employee is cheaper for an employer when they are amortized over more hours.
Procedurally Cruz’s 21 hour speech did not not accomplish anything. The cloture vote took place as scheduled and the Senator joined all of his colleagues in voting for the very thing he had just rallied against. He said afterwards that it “was all about elevating the debate in the public.” (13) If he wants to prove this is true and that his speech was not “a big waste of time” he needs to start participating in the conversation and stop grandstanding. (14)
(1) (2) (3) (11) (12) http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2013/09/25/transcript-sen-ted-cruzs-filibuster-against-obamacare/
(8) (9) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/06/will-young-adults-want-obamacare-lets-ask-aaron-smith/
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