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Midterm Reflections

11 Nov

Now that the midterm elections are a little more than a week behind us, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what the results mean. Here it is in a nutshell: People are unhappy. Of course, that begs the question, “Why are people unhappy?” Conservative pundits would have you believe that people are unhappy with the policies of the Obama administration and that the election served as a referendum on these “failed” policies. They look to these election results as necessary and sufficient proof that the American people are tired of being ignored and decided to take their country back. The thing is, if that’s true, then just two years ago, a majority of Americans decided to give their country away enthusiastically. If that sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is.

Elections are driven as much by turnout as they are by other factors, and in midterm elections, voters from the minority party tend to turn out disproportionately. The data clearly show that this happened. By comparison to 2008, voters in 2010 were significantly older and whiter, and the older and whiter demographic tends to vote Republican. Compound that by adding in a languishing economy, and people are desperate to get things fixed. They don’t trust government to solve their problems, and yet, when the economy has problems, they look to a change in government leadership to solve their problems. That is the first paradox among many.

Another paradox is the Republican stance on health reform. They don’t like the intrusive government involvement in the health care system that they call “Obamacare.” Then again, they want to preserve Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly and disabled. Apparently government involvement in health care is terrible except when it isn’t. Of course, this paradoxical policy position is readily explained by politics. Remember how the people who voted Republican and who turned out in droves tended to be older? Well, those people love Medicare. Many of them don’t know–or conveniently choose to ignore–that it’s a government program, but they love it. Never mind that Medicare–if extended to the rest of the population–would literally be a single payer system. Never mind that Medicare represents some rather wasteful government spending. Scaring old people translates into votes.

So what happens now? Republicans will put on a show of trying to repeal health reform, which will fail, but be symbolic nonetheless. Then they’ll probably work hard to try and derail implementation of the program, and if they’re successful, here’s what happens:

  • The Democrats’ plan looks like a failure (despite never having a real chance)
  • Health care costs continue to skyrocket
  • More and more Americans lose their insurance coverage
  • The nation grows sicker and less competitive
  • We get taken over by China

Okay, so that last point is a bit extreme, but it could happen.

It’s going to be a bumpy ride, no doubt. How exactly it all plays out remains to be seen. But if the Republican plan to eliminate the individual mandate while preserving the ban on pre-existing condition exclusions actually becomes reality, get ready to take out a home equity loan when you need to go to the doctor. Oh, you rent? Well, then, just don’t get sick, okay? Because you’ll never be able to afford it.

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4 Comments

Posted by on November 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

4 responses to “Midterm Reflections

  1. Jan Baer

    November 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Recall that before the '08 election, a majority of Americans, including Republicans, believed that the American health care system was out of control. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/opinions/view/opinion/Why-Republicans-Cant-Repeal-Health-Care-5654 Read that, if you haven't already, to feel a little bit better.Exit polls didn't show repeal to be a decided preference at all. This week's AP/GfK poll shows stronger support of the ACA.The election was not a referendum on Obamacare. Yesterday's news reported that there are currently 59 million Americans uninsured according to the CDC. That's up by 17 million from the '08 election and will likely grow. Hospitals and medical providers can concentrate on wealthier clients for a time, but it would serve only as a temporary fix and push costs up further.My husband and I have always bought our own insurance and we don't know if we'll be able to afford rising premiums until we qualify for Medicare, or if that program will still be available for us then. Whatever ugliness is dealt to the ACA, American health care will fulfill its destiny.

     
  2. Joel

    November 12, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    I must say, there's not a lot of "reflection" here. Just some whining, standard issue Democrat fear-mongering about death and disease, and a hearty helping of justifications for why the midterm results are in no way indicative of the feelings of the public at large and were simply inevitable.The fact is the majority of the American public distrusts big government. It's built in to the American psyche and it's part of our heritage as a nation. Of course people are unhappy with the government-gut-busting policies the busy bee Dems have been erecting over the past couple years. Most now consider these policies to be "failures". 2 years ago they thought they were voting out the establishment politicians, trying to escape the government-gut-busting policies of Mr. Bush. Well, they weren't and that's become obvious now. So they're going to try again. Success this time around? Time will tell if these Tea Party Republicans live up to their word.In the meantime feel free to continue your banal defenses of the still unpopular health reform measures while Americans who actually work for a living are watching their premiums and taxes continue to rise as a direct result of its passing."Our plan only *looks* like a massive failure!" Sheesh. Gimme a break.

     
  3. Michael Kirsch, M.D.

    November 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Are you suggesting that the GOP rout was not caused in large measure by rising dissatisfaction with the president's policies and performance?

     
  4. Jan Baer

    November 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I've been following the drastic rise of health insurance cost for many years. I can assure Joel that this is nothing new.Because I've had an interest in this for so long, I'd like to know Joel's health insurance status. That is, is he insured through an employer-sponsored program or does he buy his own? Is he uninsured? I ask only because I have yet to meet another person who buys their own health insurance and opposes the ACA, probably because they, far more than anyone else, understand the true cost.In 2006, 60% of Americans were insured through group plans, which had already become one of the biggest expenses many businesses and governments faced. Of those plans at that time, the employer paid an average of 72-85% of the cost of each premium. Governments and non-profits tended to pay even more of the premiums. I pay for my own health insurance. When I buy a product from any store or buy any American-made product I pay for those employees' health insurance. Through taxes, I pay for local/state/federal government employees' health insurance. If I have any money left to donate to a good cause, a portion of it goes to their employees' health insurance. I even pay for my insurer's employees' health insurance!Their insurance costs me a lot, and I don't get to "opt out" of paying for their tax-free benefit.This is not my idea of the American Dream.

     

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