How it Works

You’ve heard me pontificate about propaganda enough, that I think a real life example is in order.

My wife, a health care worker, is sick and tired of co-workers and patients referring to the Affordable Care Act as Obamacare. And, who can blame her when the complaints she hears are based on a basic misunderstanding of the ACA.

The dominant narrative about President Obama’s signature health care reform, is that it is a socialist expansion of big-government. Of course, this narrative is completely at odds with reality. The intellectual underpinnings of the health care reform originated at the Heritage Foundation and it was first implemented in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney when he was governor.

The ACA, rather than aiding the American people, was primarily set up to benefit the health care industry.

“Is it any surprise that the woman who wrote the Affordable Care Act is now leaving the White House for a job with health care giant Johnson & Johnson? Liz Fowler worked for Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) during the drafting of the ACA and had the primary responsibility for authoring the legislation. After its passage, she migrated to the White House to help with implementation. Seems reasonable enough. However, it is important to note where she was before joining the staff of Senator Baucus. Yup, you guessed it…she was a bigwig at WellPoint, the nation’s second leading health insurance company with nearly 54 million policyholders.” 

Now that the ACA is becoming a reality, many of its defects are starting to become apparent. Employers are cutting back on employee hours so they don’t have to fund their health care. Republican governors are refusing to expand their Medicaid rosters–a crucial step in the implementation of the ACA. And health insurance companies are already raising rates.

Reporter, David Dayen outlines some other potential problems with the ACA as we move towards its implementation.

“Will the states and the federal government sufficiently create exchanges that automatically determine eligibility for anyone who accesses them? Will the feds, not expecting to have to take over the exchange process for the majority of states, prove up to the task (and find the funding)? Will the subsidies get delivered to insurance companies in a seamless way? Will we still see efforts at denying coverage or rescinding policies? Will eligible beneficiaries even know that they’re eligible for subsidies? Will the states with partisan leaders predisposed to fight Obamacare seek to sabotage the whole effort? Will Congress shift more costs onto individuals and states in ways that will cause states in particular to resist coverage? What if drug pricesstart to rise in relative terms, and the cost of health care overall expands in ways that the ACA cannot keep up with? Will the inevitable failures in implementation sour the public on the program? Will there ever be an opportunity to improve or tweak this program, given the political realities?” 

Ask yourself a question. Why didn’t President Obama push for an expansion of Medicare, a government health insurance program with a proven track record and low costs?

And, here we are at the heart of our propaganda system. The big lie of conservative media: Obama and Democrats are socialists, out to enslave American citizens in a vast web of government programs, like the ACA, that will sap their freedoms.

Obama didn’t push for single-payer or even a public option, because he’s not liberal or a Democrat in the traditional sense. And, the modern Democratic Party is anything but socialist. A more appropriate description would be corporate.

“Corporatism, of course, is a vague label, but in Democratic politics it typically refers to helping campaign contributors bust unions and dismantle environmental regulations, with the expectation that servile labor and environmental leaders will sit by as their movements are decimated.”

The Democrats get to pretend that they are liberal in order to get support and money from real liberals. Democrats are only liberal in relation to social issues. On economics and health care, not so much.

 “From the Democrats you get back-door privatization, like Obama’s Health Care act. Ask yourself — why didn’t Obama just offer a bill that expanded Medicare to everyone in the country? Answer: Because he wanted to shovel money into corporate (meaning, billionaire CEO) hands with a “public-private solution” to a public policy problem. This is always the Neoliberal “solution” — starve the government along with the Republicans, then sell public-private “deals” that screw the public while offering pretend or partial solutions.”

So what can we do?

We need to press for single-payer health care, or at least a public option. Look, good policy is good politics. Americans are acting negatively towards the ACA because instinctively they recognize that it will make their life harder, with its corporate mandate and paucity of actual coverage.

I’ll leave the last word to Avedon Carol.

“We can argue some about which is the biggest, most important issue, but it has to be understood that none of that matters as long as we don’t have democracy. The public has been pretty clear about what it wants, and the Hill has been pretty clear that it doesn’t care what we want. If we can’t figure out how to turn back into a democracy, this train is going to run right over us.

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One Response to How it Works

  1. Jeff Nguyen says:

    Another corporate giveaway similar to NCLB/RTTT in education. As Glen Ford says, Obama is the “more effective evil”. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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