Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Aaaaaaaand, we're open again!

I'm posting political vitriol here tonight, because I can't post it on Facebook. I have a wealth of friends and relatives who are conservatives, and I'm not about to get into a pissing contest about the shutdown with them. They're never going to see my side, and I'm certainly never going to see theirs, ever again.

As some of you know, I was a Republican in college. I ran for student offices, held leadership positions, and blindly followed a herd, mainly because my parents were conservative and I didn't know how to think for myself yet.

Yea, OK, also, there was this guy......anyhoooo.....

College is supposed to instill free thinking, but I was a serious late bloomer. I didn't come to my liberal senses until about 10 years ago, as I watched government change, the nation change, and I realized I believed many things that were actually ideals on the left side of the aisle. Not maligning conservatives here, because we live in America and everyone is entitled to their opinion, and free speech is #1 on the Bill of Rights hit parade. I used to make fun of card-carrying members of the ACLU and now I am one. But this isn't about a mea culpa, not really...

I'm watching CSPAN tonight. The House passed the amendment allowing for the reopening of government tonight, following the Senate's passing of their bill, and it's headed to the White House for Obama's signature. I'm just enough of a masochist where I went to to see how they were taking the compromise. Sure enough, the headline reads "It's Over...For Now."

They're right of course, as these amendments only extend our finances into January 2014. But what they really mean is that they're not done fighting to somehow take the Affordable Care Act and unmake it as a law. And while that baffles me on 14 different levels, it also doesn't surprise me at all, as I do remember the poor and lesser Americans not being worth the time of day back when I was a rightie. The sound byte was all about giving a hand up vs. a hand out, and there was no room for negotiation in that statement. But they don't seem to get how that separates them even further from the constituencies that they're attempting to represent, and I really pray that it starts biting them hard in the ass. Because dividing America between the haves and the have-nots must not stand.

It's an epic-sized ivory tower in Washington, where they don't see that for every welfare crack mama with no job and 4 kids nursing on government's tit, there's also 10 lower-middle class families who work their fingers to the bone to make ends meet and when they come up for air, they find they make too much to obtain any government subsidies, but meanwhile their kids can't afford college. Jon Stewart illustrated it rather beautifully last week in a segment where CNN or some-such interviewed a woman who was finding she made too much money to take advantage of the state subsidies provided under the ACA, but she lived in a miserable looking, manufactured single-wide. Her quote could've been written by anyone in the under-$40K-a-year bracket (paraphrased): "When you're faced with the choice of going to the doctor or putting food in your kids' mouths, what do you think the choice is gonna be?"

I got off on a original reason for opening this post was anger. Not at the shutdown, but at the Republicans' continued unwillingness to compromise. They act like they caved, they're all going to affect hangdog expressions for the next day or so as they speak in compliant, Reaganesque tones about everyone working together for the good of the people, and they'll pray to the election gods that their party lives through any primaries this month and next.

I can't find it on the Interweb anywhere, whether the vote required a regular majority or a 2/3rds majority, and my political science degree is seriously dusty. But I'm going to assume they only needed a regular majority, because that's the only explanation I can find for the House conservatives saying that even though they (personally) were voting "no," there was no doubt that the bill would pass and we'd be up and running again, thanks to their efforts. Yea, I wouldn't sit by the mailbox waiting for the thank-you notes, you magnanimous bastards. Because if the vote needed 2/3rds to pass, then I'm livid. There are currently 432 House members able to vote on the floor. The bill passed 285-144. I'll save you the trouble of clicking on your calculators.....2/3rds of 432 = 285.

Coincidence? I'm just saying, even though it was probably a regular majority that was needed, we liberals definitely can't sit on our laurels now and think "whew, dodged a bullet," because we didn't dodge a damn thing, and in a few short months, we could be right back where we were, fighting with white men who think like it's 1950 and don't care about anyone below their tax bracket.

Y'all know I take the Affordable Care Act fight personally. I created my profile and started shopping on the day after my ER visit last week, and I'm hoping to get in on some of the NC state subsidies. As an obese freelancer, I was turned down by not one, but two insurance plans when I went hunting months back, and the only reason they gave was my weight.

I may be the size of a Biggest Loser contestant, but between my family history and my actual health, I'm not exactly a heart attack waiting to happen. I'll bet it wasn't even my weight, rather, my BMI was too high on one of their all-knowing charts. They pigeonhole people, because it's a business that doesn't want to do what it's built to do: pay for people's medical care. I get it; they're private, they're there to make a buck. But that only punctuates how important it is to have a government-run health care system. Another Jon Stewart gem from last week brought up the point that when uninsured people go to the ER, and then default on their bills, the insurance companies are, in part, forced to take up the slack financially, which in turn results in higher premiums for the hard-working Americans who are paying into the system properly. This is where I get confused with the Republicans' insistence that the ACA is evil...because if more people are insured, won't the insurance companies have to come up with a new excuse for raising premiums? Oh, not to worry, since all the private insurance companies are so concerned with the government taking away their business, that they're spreading the rumors about higher premiums anyway "to cover the costs of ACA."  And any left or centrist publication will tell you that's bullshit.

Half of me didn't even want to bother with insurance for me, because it's hard enough right now making the payments on Les's premiums. I found a doc here in town who caters to the underinsured and uninsured, and they're doing a bang-up job. But thanks to that little jaunt to the ER, I was fully reminded of the necessity of health insurance...and we haven't even gotten that potentially-cringeworthy bill yet.

My point (and I do have one...sorry, guys, this was a long one) is that the system's still VERY broken, but the Affordable Care Act is at least a Band-Aid for the very large crowd of folks like me, who desperately need insurance, don't want to be a burden to society, and can't afford or get into a decent plan. I am losing weight now and getting healthier, but Obama's pre-existing condition clause in the ACA still practically made me weep when I learned about it, because it said "my government gives a damn and isn't going to leave me out in the cold." Sure, that's a rather Currier & Ives way of looking at it, but I still believe in that American Dream. I don't see that I should be excluded from a system that ultimately helps government, just because I'm plus-sized and have the audacity to work for myself.

Image from here.

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