Last Thursday, House Republicans finally managed to pass a healthcare repeal bill that would essentially replace the Affordable Care Act. As the house passed the bill, Democrats could be heard serenading Republicans as if the thought of picking up more seats in 2018 was more important than keeping Obamacare intact.
The GOP may have pushed the red button last week, but Democrats gave Republicans the launch codes way back in 2010. When George W. Bush left office, Americans were so eager for change that they elected the country’s first black president. One who just happened to have a Muslim sounding name on top of it.
I can’t begin to explain how much political capital the Democratic Party had back then. Much like the position Republicans find themselves in now, Democrats controlled both chambers of congress and the presidency.
Obama was elected on the prospect of change and campaigned a lot on healthcare reform. Public support for government run healthcare at the time was close to 60%. Many progressives believed that universal healthcare was finally on the way.
Unfortunately, while the people of the United States supported healthcare for all, Democrats did not. The House managed to pass the initial version of the ACA with a limited public option, even with dozens of Democrats voting against it. However, when the bill reached the senate, only a measly 10% supported it. The public option was taken out.
The cause for this epic Democratic Party failure was due in large part to massive campaign contributions as well as lobbying by the insurance industry and other big healthcare companies. Some Democrats were worried about losing their jobs in tight congressional races that year. Others simply didn’t believe in healthcare for all.
President Obama for his part opted not to support single payer. Therefore, he did nothing to convince his fellow Democrats that universal healthcare was the way to go. In the end, the American people did not get what they really wanted.
What they got instead was a decades old Republican plan that forced people to buy health insurance from insurance companies. However, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare if you prefer, did have its strengths and was far better than the status quo at the time. Covering another 20 million Americans with healthcare, with or without pre-existing conditions, was still an important accomplishment.
The problem is, compared to what could have and should have been, the ACA was wide open for attack. Democrats running in 2012 and 2014 had a tough time defending it too. They were sure to keep their distance or run away from it entirely. Many of them lost because of it.
There are two critical issues regarding healthcare that neo-liberals can’t seem to understand. First, anyone who does not support single payer healthcare has something fundamentally wrong with them. Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, you are actually denying health coverage to people. It is that simple. Single payer saves money, it saves lives. Period.
Second, if Obamacare had been universal healthcare instead of Romneycare, Republicans would not have been able to repeal it. The whole country would have seen it’s benefits by now, not just the newly insured. They would already be carving out Obama’s head on Mount Rushmore. Individuals in countries that introduced a national healthcare service are celebrated as heroes, even decades after the laws are passed.
But what has changed today? During the primary, Hillary Clinton said that universal healthcare would “end all the kinds of health care we know” and claimed it would “send health insurance to the states,” while her daughter warned that it would “dismantle Obamacare” and “strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.”
A few weeks ago, Senator Dianne Feinstein of liberal California, was pressed about whether she supports Bernie Sanders’ quest for universal health coverage at a town hall meeting. She said a single payer healthcare system would mean the complete takeover of healthcare by the government. The main (and false) Republican talking point we’ve been hearing for years.
A single payer bill that was introduced last March by Democratic Representative John Conyers has won the support of just 104 of the party’s 193 members in the House. Pathetic to be sure, but it does represent where the heads of corporate Democrats are at — up their ass. And it shows why they need to go.
Democrats have only themselves to blame for last Thursday’s healthcare repeal result. If they had done it correct from the start, without the influence of greedy companies, organizations and politicians, every American would have health insurance.
Instead, the Democrats who felt the need to chant Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye” to Republicans, are actually singing it to themselves and what’s left of Obama’s legacy.