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“Thank God for Obamacare!”
April 6, 2022
[Audio version here]
Former President Barack Obama returned to the White House on Tuesday to celebrate the 12th Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”)—also known as “Obamacare.” Republicans attempted to prevent the passage of the ACA by claiming that it would usher in an era of “death panels” and months-long waits to see a physician. After twelve years, the ACA is simply known as “health insurance,”—reflecting the spectacular success of the once-in-a-generation social program that has benefited tens of millions of Americans. Republicans have finally admitted defeat; the 2022 Republican platform released by Senator Rick Scott does not mention the words “health care.”
Obamacare has provided a safety net against financial ruin for millions of Americans. If your extended family is anything like mine, there were a half a dozen times over the last decade when you uttered the phrase, “Thank God for Obamacare!” In our extended family, those occasions included adult children who “aged-out” of coverage on their parents’ policies, interruptions in employer-provided coverage due to job dislocations, use of mandatory coverage for maternity and infant care, and health problems that would have resulted in denial of coverage for “pre-existing conditions.” Twelve years ago, each scenario would have resulted in financial and family crises. Today, those challenges can be managed by relying on the ACA as a temporary or permanent source of insurance. (I recognize that the ACA creates a marketplace of insurance, not a specific insurance policy, but the effect is the same.)
When the ACA was passed, the term “Obamacare” was used by Republicans as a slur. Today, at the White House ceremony, when President Biden referred to the ACA as “Obamacare,” he did so with pride and admiration for the vision and daring of President Obama. President Biden used the occasion to announce an executive order to expand coverage by fixing a gap in subsidies for families with “self-only employment coverage.”
There is a lesson in the success of Obamacare. If Democrats act in the best interests of Americans, they will succeed—notwithstanding the efforts of Republicans to lie about the programs proposed by Democrats. Today, a reader sent me a fundraising note he received from “Americans for Prosperity”—the Koch brothers’ primary political advocacy group. The email claimed that the Democratic proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices was “a dangerous government takeover of your medicine cabinet.”
The Americans for Prosperity email asks recipients whether “the government should be able to dictate the prices of life-saving prescription drugs?” The obvious answer to that question is “Yes! The government should be able to use its leverage as the biggest prescription drug payor in America to negotiate lower prices.” Democrats must ensure that voters hear that message—not the disinformation of the Koch brothers.
President Obama swung for the fences in 2012. He hit a double—which has made a life-saving difference for tens of millions of Americans. Biden shouldn’t give up on the social programs included in the “Build Back Better” agenda. In the meantime, “Thank God for Obamacare!”
President Zelenskyy challenges the U.N. to live up to its mission.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, told a House committee that NATO should prepare for “an extended conflict” in Ukraine. Milley noted that about two-thirds of the Russian forces in Ukraine have repositioned toward Belarus for refit, resupply, and reinforcement. Per Milley, these actions presage a renewed assault in the Donbas region.
Against the backdrop of the atrocities in Bucha and signs of an extended conflict, President Zelenskyy addressed the U.N. Security Council, asking pointedly whether the Council was living up to its charter to “maintain peace and security.” Zelenskyy asked, “Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee?” Zelensky accused Russia of “the most terrible war crimes” since WWII, killing civilians “just for pleasure.” He called for the U.N. to strip Russia of its permanent seat on the Security Council. The Russian ambassador to the U.N. claimed that “not a single civilian was harmed” in Bucha—demonstrating why Russia should be stripped of its seat on the Security Council.
Zelenskyy also called for a U.N. tribunal to investigate and prosecute Russia’s war crimes—a move that can be blocked by Russia (and China) as members of the Security Council. Moreover, a usual course for U.N. action is to refer war criminals to the International Court of Crimes. Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC (nor does the U.S.) and the ICC does not conduct trials in absentia. To prosecute Putin, Russia would have to arrest Putin and hand him over to the ICC. That will not happen, so the search for accountability will be long and frustrating.
In the short run, economic sanctions must serve as the proxy for international condemnation. The U.S. and its allies still have some room to impose additional economic pain on Russia—but the ultimate sanctions against Russian gas and oil will be challenging to implement in an oil-dependent world. Nonetheless, the European Union has proposed a ban on Russian coal imports and is considering whether to ban oil. See CNBC, E.U. proposes ban on Russian coal, working on oil sanctions. As evidence of Putin’s war crimes continues to emerge, the likelihood that the West will boycott Russian oil will increase. Let’s hope that the West acts sooner rather than later.
Oklahoma legislature outlaws all abortions.
The Oklahoma legislature has passed a law criminalizing all abortions—at any stage of pregnancy, with an exception only when the life of the mother is endangered. See Talking Points Memo, Oklahoma Legislature Passes Most Restrictive Abortion Ban In America. Per TPM,
If Oklahoma’s outright ban on the procedure isn’t blocked by the courts, it will become law this summer, making performing an abortion entirely illegal, whether a person is one week, six weeks or 15 weeks pregnant — any procedure under the timeframe of fetal viability will be illegal for providers. Punishments will include a $100,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.
Whether Oklahoma’s statute will withstand constitutional scrutiny in the post-Roe v. Wade world will be determined on how the Supreme Court overrules Roe. If the Court abolishes the right to privacy found within the ‘penumbras’ of the Bill of Rights, there will be no constraint on state legislation outlawing abortion.
We have the power to stop the reactionary majority on the Supreme Court from knocking civil liberties back to the 19th Century. All we need to do is enlarge the Court to thirteen Justices. That will, of course, require Democrats to hold the House, increase their majority in the Senate, and abolish the filibuster. Then it will only take a majority vote in both chambers of Congress to enlarge the Court—no constitutional amendment required. What are we waiting for? Abortion will be a crime in twenty-two states after Roe is overruled. Same sex marriage is next on the Republican agenda . . .
Deconstruction of Judge Jackson confirmation hearings.
There is a lot to be said about the abuse suffered by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in her confirmation hearings. It is always good to find a writer who can give voice to the feelings of outrage we experience after witnessing another shameful spectacle staged by hypocritical Republicans. To that end, I recommend Dahlia Lithwick’s analysis of Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearings. See Slate, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley’s child porn smear worked for them.
As Lithwick notes, Judge Jackson is one of the most popular Supreme Court nominees ever, and most people who watched the hearings disapproved of the GOP antics. Judge Jackson will be nominated. So what was the GOP game plan? Per Lithwick:
This is, after all, the party that has lost on the polling, lost on the messaging, and will lose on [Judge Jackson’s] nomination itself, and thinks it can still win on the fetid child sex abuse smear.
And there you have it. The leading GOP contenders for the 2024 nomination have honed their message to a single false accusation: Democrats are soft on child sex abuse—the last refuge of a party with nothing else to offer.
An opportunity for readers in Los Angeles interested in the Ohio governor’s race.
A reader in Los Angeles is hosting an in-home fundraiser for Nan Whaley, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for governor of Ohio. Here is the reader’s note:
Nan Whaley, the highly regarded two-term Mayor of Dayton, is running for Governor of Ohio. The current governor, Republican Mike DeWine, is caught up in a messy corruption scandal, which helps open the door to a strong Democratic candidate. For those of you in Los Angeles, who grew up in Ohio or believe that Ohio can turn “blue” with bright, highly qualified candidates, who, like Nan and Senate candidate Tim Ryan, care about their constituencies and their country, it will be well worth your time to attend an event on Monday, April 11th at a home in Westwood to hear Nan speak and to support her campaign. You can click this link to RSVP. Governor’s races are more essential than ever for our Democracy!
For the baseball fans out there, my wife and Managing Editor posted a blog about our date-night out to watch a pre-season exhibition game between the Los Angeles Angels and the L.A. Dodgers. (A baseball-loving reader noted that I incorrectly described the exhibition as a “major league game.” Geez! You all are a tough audience!) The link is here: Play Ball! (everydaywithjill.com)
A reader recommended an article from The Bulwark, Democrats Need to Get Better at Politics—Fast. Despite the title, the piece is not another litany of Democratic deficits that fails to acknowledge the challenges faced by Republicans. Indeed, the article’s thesis is that there is a “family dispute” at The Bulwark over which party faces the most serious challenges. One side of the family believes that for Democrats to succeed, “they should disabuse themselves of several myths, such as that people of color will reliably vote D or that turnout is the magic bullet, and pivot hard to the center.”
Okay, so the truth hurts. But the folks at The Bulwark note that Republicans face their own challenges:
Others disagree. Observing that yet another Big Lie-proselytizing, Ivermectin-hawking, full-on Trump cultist running for office—this time for Wisconsin attorney general—Jonathan V. Last marvels that “somehow the problem is Democrats being out of step?”
So, which side of The Bulwark family feud is right? Both. That’s the point. Democrats spend too much time navel-gazing about their own problems, deluding themselves into believing they are uniquely vulnerable in 2022. Not true. As The Bulwark concludes,
In order to win, not just in 2022 but for the next several cycles or however long it takes for Republicans to regain their sanity, Democrats must prioritize broadly popular policies, they must tell the voters what they’re doing, and they must hang the crazy around Republicans’ necks.
We can do that. We did it in 2020 and 2018. Let’s do it again!
Talk to you tomorrow!