ACA and the government shutdown

There’s not a lot I can say here. I’ve been ignoring political news for a while because I can’t bring myself to deal with it; most of what’s pissing me off is beyond my ability to affect in a meaningful way, so all reading about it does is raise my blood pressure. (Which sometimes could use it. But I don’t think that’s a medically recommended method of fixing the problem.)

Other people, however, have said very intelligent things.

First and foremost, Tobias Buckell, on EMTALA and how we got to this point. It says something about political coverage in the news that I? Had not actually heard of EMTALA before this. I had heard about it, sure. I knew that emergency rooms had to treat anybody who came in, and worry about payment later. I knew some (not all) of the problems that had produced. But I didn’t know what caused it. I didn’t know this was a law from Reagan’s presidency, and that legislators at the time had kicked down the road the question of how anybody was going to pay for it.

And you know, if I had the power to change one thing about our dysfunctional political system, that might be it: the overwhelming tendency to kick the payment can down the road. Defer spending on infrastructure and other vital things, until it collapses out from under you. I heard somebody say once that this is a fundamental weakness of democracy, and I believe it. When you need to worry about re-election, you go for the quick and easy points, not the things that need to be done but nobody will thank you for them.

Scalzi, as usual, has things to say, but for me his best line is in the comments. Someone there — clearly thinking he was scoring points by accusing Scalzi of bad rhetoric — said “In other words, the explanation for the behavior of your political opponents that seems most likely to you is that they are evil. This seems uncharitable and unimaginative.” To which Scalzi responded:

You know what, Leonard? Shutting down the whole of the government of the United States in order to force a change (or indeed repeal) in a law offers access to medical insurance to millions that don’t already have it or can’t afford it, because you otherwise don’t have the legislative majority to make changes, thereby putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work and costing the nation millions of dollars each day? That’s not a bad definition of banal evil.

Now I hear rumblings that these same folks will try to leverage the debt limit in order to get their way on the ACA. If that’s correct, a willingness to destroy the US’ global financial standing, and disrupting the entire planetary economy, would take the action out of “banal” to actual flat out evil.

To which I have to say, yeah. This shutdown is financially and economically destructive, and it amounts to the Republicans throwing a temper tantrum about a law they failed to prevent, because they would prefer we go back to the good ol’ days when millions of people went without medical care or died because they weren’t rich enough to be healthy.

Two words: Fuck. That.

ACA is not perfect. But this? Doesn’t help anybody.

And then I’ll just point you at Fred Clark of Slacktivist, who has said many good and important things: “The ‘debt limit’ Kobayashi Maru,” “What the shutdown means: Unnecessary pain,” “The longer the shutdown goes, the more it costs us all,” and a more general look at “Another proof of bad faith: The inconsistency of blacktracking.” (I prefer the term he quotes later, “pulling a one-hatey,” because that one’s applicable to circumstances other than those involving Obama. But both terms have a certain rhetorical charm.)


My entire life as an eligible voter, I have wished that I could respect the Republican Party. I would probably vote Democratic anyway, but I wish I could look at their behavior and say, “I understand where you’re coming from and I respect that, even if I disagree with you.” But I can’t. I just can’t. I look at them and see a pack of dishonest, amoral idealogues who cater to the basest impulses in our political discourse. We need a new Republican Party, stat. One that’s actually conservative, rather than reactionary. But I don’t think we’re going to get it any time soon.

7 Responses to “ACA and the government shutdown”

  1. difrancis

    Well said. Amen.

  2. bemused_leftist

    Even as it has been, very few people get away with NEVER paying for ER care. If not insured, they are billed, and eventually the bill goes to a collection agency, which eventually files suit. The only people who can ignore that, are the ‘judgement proof’ who have low assets under the ‘exempt’ limit (and who don’t mind a judgement going on their credit record, and garnishment of their wages, etc).

    As for kicking the bill down the road — that was probably the only way to get the benefit through at that time. Otherwise … people bleeding to death on the hospital steps?

    As for Republicans, maybe it’s not accidental that the ones who are reform minded, have the freshest ideas, and are the most tolerant socially — are the ones that the media and the entrenched Republicans present as clowns. That is, Trump and Palin.

    • tiamat360

      Trump and Palin

      I don’t outright disbelieve this (since after all my news of them is filtered through said media), but I am a little doubtful. Would you mind explaining? (and, ideally, citing?)

      • bemused_leftist

        In haste….

        Palin strongly supported contraception and sex education in public schools — including instruction in condom use “because some children don’t get that from their parents”.

        She said the police should stop enforcing anti-marijuana laws for personal use in private, though “taking the laws off the books would send the wrong message”.

        As Governor, she taxed the oil companies.

        Compare these positions to those of more ‘serious’ Republicans (such as Santorum).

        As for Trump, iirc he once considered running as a Democrat, once supported abortion, presented himself as ‘pragmatic’ rather than ‘ideological’.

        These two are certainly milder than the rest of the Republicans who are called ‘Right-wing’ or ‘Tea Party’. If some of the establishment Republicans are milder yet, I haven’t heard them speaking out (unless retiring counts). 😉

  3. ashnistrike

    Well, that’s the first thing I’ve heard in 30 years that’s increased my respect for Reagan.

    The seeds of a more rational Republican party exist, but have relatively little influence at the moment. I’ve had some great conversations with people around DC (at the Energy and Enterprise Institute, for example) who are trying to get their party to stop arguing about whether problems like climate change exist, and start coming up with solutions. I don’t think replacing the income tax with a carbon tax is actually a good idea, but I can respect someone who proposes it.

    • bemused_leftist

      I’d have to check it out more before giving Reagan credit. Sometimes a President will sign a bill he didn’t work for, or even really opposed, because it passed with a veto-proof majority or because the alternative would be worse, etc etc.

      For example Bill Clinton signed DOMA, because the GOP had enough support to do something worse. DADT also was the best compromise Bill could get.

    • tiamat360

      yeaaaaah I kinda feel like the whole “we’re not going to bother to fund this” thing sort of cancels out the “socialized healthcare” aspect here 😛

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