John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


You Don’t Have to Suffer to Get Obamacare Amended

Posted on October 9, 2013
Statue of Liberty Closed

Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act. The socialist medical agenda. The saving grace of uninsured Americans. Call it what you will, the new health insurance and care laws have become a hot button in politics and, as of last week, have singlehandedly caused the second government shutdown in the history of the United States. However, is Obamacare really worth the effort and economic tolls of a shutdown?

Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or Tea-Party supporter, a government shutdown does not help you. At all. (Unless you are a member of Congress, air control, armed forces, mail service, or dependent on Social Security, who still get paid.) While the Tea Party Republicans who are pushing for defunding of the Affordable Care Act [ACA] believe they are using a valuable bargaining chip, they can really just be seen as sore losers, pouting about the fight against making the ACA into law.

True—laws can be, and are, repealed quite often, but it’s not usually because one faction of a party throws a temper tantrum and pulls the entire government to a halt.

Maybe I’m an idealist, but I believe change comes about by finding common ground, compromise on both sides of the aisle, and a mutual respect for the goals of each party (or else shameless bribing and coercion). I see none of these, and I’m not just blaming the House Republicans. There is an equal amount of immovability on the side of the Senate Democrats, however that seems to be a bit more justifiable. The ACA was fought for, argued against, cast to vote (multiple times and in multiple forms), and came out victorious. The act endured the due process on which this country has relied since its inception. But apparently, that process is no longer deemed acceptable by some of the nation’s representatives.

Here’s a piece of advice, though: a shutdown isn’t going to solve it.

While a good amount of the government is still technically running during a shutdown, millions of Americans are being furloughed and not getting paid. Whether it’s the college student relying on his ROTC payment to pay rent or the single mom working at the passport office, Americans are suffering from the congress’s inability to play nice. As a personal friend stated, he would rather get paid and see Obamacare enacted than deal with this uncertainty and government inefficiency.

In addition to hurting individuals, the shutdown hurts the states. With the terrible flooding and disasters in Colorado, the state needed help from the National Guard to enact emergency measures and help its citizens. Oh wait, the government is shut down, so it won’t fund the effort. Instead, the state of Colorado and its generous neighbors had to raise the money themselves and dip into their budgets to send the Guard. How many other states have had (or will have) situations like this? Not to mention, the revenue created by national parks goes to the states, but those are closed. A shutdown also prevents the granting of federal loans for buying houses, weapon permits, and passports.

Was there any mention of political change?

If, for some reason, this ACA bargaining chip is successful and Obamacare is defunded, Obamacare still remains a law. Defunding is not the same as repealing. Instead, defunding will just create a mess that, in order to clean up, will almost require a repeal.

Is the mess worth the repeal, though? A three-to-four-week shutdown could cost the economy $55 billion dollars. Defunding won’t lower any of the few raised insurance premiums since the introduction of the ACA. Most of the ACA measures have already been set in motion, so defunding will just be destructive as they are pulled out of the framework. I don’t see the benefits.

What would be more beneficial for the Republicans would be to use the passage and support of the ACA as a bargaining chip in the budget battle and debt ceiling debacle, not it’s defunding. Support what has been passed, then move on to the bigger fish that need frying.

This is not to discount the importance of the ACA; it is a paramount change to the American healthcare system, but one that has been introduced in the past (by Democrats and Republicans alike). While Obama was the one holding the pen and signed the ACA into law, he didn’t write it all—it has been in the works over the last decade or more, written by members of all parties of all ages.

So, Congressional Republicans, don’t take your Obama hatred out on the bill. Man up, make a budget, and get the government running again. Once the war fires have cooled a bit, then maybe some progress can be made in amending the ACA. But the time to do it is not now, and it’s not worth a shutdown.

Diana Galloway puts her focus on marketing and political science to use by writing articles about marketing practices, politics, and the latest news in government affairs. She is fascinated with comparative politics and issues, from publicly funded healthcare in Canada, to the effects of Obamacare on an ObGyn in Santa Monica, to civil unrest in the Basque Country. Follow her on Twitter.

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