Recently, on August 6, I made the comment on my Facebook page that stated: “I want my friends who are running for office to understand something. When you use the term “Defund Obamacare” I have to wonder what your position is on people like me with pre-existing conditions, insurance plans that had lifetime caps, transparency in the health insurance purchase process, preventive medical care, etc… If you can’t articulate your position beyond buzz words, I’m not sure that you honestly want or deserve my vote. I am a cancer survivor. I can afford to purchase insurance. Because of the current ban on pre-existing conditions which expires very soon, I cannot obtain health insurance. Is your proposition for me to go bankrupt if I get sick? I agree, there are some very bad provisions included in the entire law, but come on, articulate a position beyond lowest common denominator political buzzwords…”
That comment prompted some agreement from various friends and some level of disagreement from others. What I wasn’t aware of is that it also triggered the curiosity of the Atlanta Journal and Constitutions’ Jim Galloway. Jim and I talked last week and in his column that ran online this Saturday and in the print edition this Sunday, he very accurately summed up how I feel about this issue.
The column prompted friends to chime in with various comments, such as this one from Joe Steffen in Savannah, “Unfortunately for most of Congress, it’s about tearing down the other side to achieve power. Governing doesn’t matter. Sound bite 24 hour news cycle makes it worse. We will never solve complicated issues this way… never.”
The column also caused me to think further about things on this issue. My own reaction to reading my thoughts online in the AJC were, “So, I’ve had all day to think about the double down talk of efforts to defund “Obamacare” even at the cost of shutting down the government and the GA Insurance Commissioner’s goal to be an obstructionist to the effort. You can’t govern or legislate from these zero sum positions and I don’t know how we are supposed to move forward as a country when everyone just continues to retreat to their base and won’t at least participate in the process to find common ground on healthcare reform as it relates to “Obamacare”. Can we not demand more than this from our elected officials?”
Republicans in both houses of Congress did not participate in writing or passing the Affordable Care Act, which is now called “Obamacare”. The bill was written and passed with nothing but Democrat support. Much of the foundation of the bill can be linked back to the Dole 1996 insurance plan and even reform efforts championed by Newt Gingrich and the Heritage Foundation. Most Republicans sang the praises of Mitt Romney when he championed similar health care reforms in Massachusetts as Governor. At the time, you even had a State Senator in Georgia want to introduce such legislation here in Georgia.
When Barack Obama and Democrats took up these reform efforts and began to work off of this model, Republicans refused to participate. You even had that same State Senator in Georgia go so far as to try and ban such reforms here in GA. The Republican position has been to do nothing. They did nothing in 2009 as the bill was written and passed and they continue to do nothing in 2013 as the law is being further implemented to finally allow people like myself to obtain health insurance.
By refusing to work in a bipartisan manner to find common ground in healthcare insurance reform, Republicans took themselves out of the equation. They became squawking spectators to the legislative process.
Instead of working in a bipartisan way to reform the areas they found most egregious since final passage, they have continued in vain instead to pass repeal efforts all with the reality that those efforts were going nowhere.
At some point, small business leaders, company executives, and even regular conservative voters should be demanding of their representatives in Congress some kind of engagement in the process to actually get something done on the most egregious part of the law, versus continuing to support efforts to demagogue the issue in vain for no other point than to further gin up the furthest extremes of their base.
The current threat by extremes of the Republican Party to shut down the government or default on our debt as it relates to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) are so ridiculous and beyond reasonable thought that it defies logic.
These same people should make better use of their time, talent, and energy by working with members of the other party and the President to find workable solutions to the most objectionable parts of the law. They have to engage and actually participate in the legislative process to make that happen and if that is a bridge to far for them to travel, then they do not deserve to be a part of a governing body and should find work elsewhere.
I work as a Realtor. I work day in and day out to bring together buyers and sellers in the purchase and sale of homes. If I cannot find that level of agreement, where both parties are satisfied, then I don’t get paid. Neither party wins when the other won’t negotiate or participate in negotiations. Our Congress would be wise to find this same common ground.