Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been fauxlibustering for over 16 hours against the Affordable Care Act, but his physical fortitude is going to be overshadowed by the game-changing announcement that health care premiums will be 16% lower than projected earlier, giving 95% of uninsured Americans access to cheaper health care coverage than is currently available. While skepticism persists about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, sarcastically known as Obamacare, it seems more and more as though Republicans are trying to scare the public into revolting against the act before it goes into effect and does the worst thing imaginable — hand the Democrats a historic, socially and economically effective policy win.
ThinkProgress summarized the report released by the Department of Health and Human Services explaining that in the 36 states that will use federal Health Insurance Marketplaces, a 27-year-old will pay an average of $163 a month for the lowest bronze-level plan covering almost 60% of health care costs without subsidies, and only $83 a month after subsidies based on income levels.
A Texas family of four with a household income of $50,000 could pay as low as $57 a month for the bronze plan after tax credits. Premiums fluctuate based on the state, and as I have previously discussed, the success of the Affordable Care Act still rests disproportionately on healthy young people signing up for health insurance to offset the expanded coverage to the elderly and sick. Nonetheless, the Republicans are rightfully concerned that the act continues to build momentum as the date of its implementation approaches.
House Republicans are trying to hijack the legislative agenda with their threats to shut down the federal government if Obamacare goes into effect. Last week Republican leaders took to the airwaves to tout their courageous move to attach a provision to the budget requiring Congress to defund Obamacare in order to keep the government's lights on. The political move, meant more for media traction than actual legislative impact, was not going to get traction in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Republican Speaker Boehner is reportedly now preparing to attached a clause delaying Obamacare for a year, according to Politico.
The Republicans' backtrack to a delay from a complete defunding is also likely to go nowhere, raising the question, why continue fighting a losing war? This insistence on defunding Obamacare is simply the continuation of what MediaMatters calls the Republican civil war where traditional Republicans are afraid of being primary-ed out of existence by hard-right Tea Party challengers like the still-standing Sen. Cruz. The Tea Party's more extreme agendas have not been subdued by the establishment Republicans, resulting in a turn to the hard right for the entire party.
This trend is being further propelled by outside money that lost the messaging game in 2012 and is trying far harder this year. The Koch Brothers (or Money in Politics, Inc.) released a heinously stupid video trying to scare young audiences out of buying health insurance with the insinuation that the government will be conducting physical exams. The Koch Brothers'-funded, generically named Generation Opportunity is targeting Obamacare by focusing on a grassroots effort to hit 20 college campuses and spend $750,000 trying to creep out young people.
“It is hard to tell if this is real or if it’s a Saturday Night Live parody about the hypocrisy of extremists who want to be in every exam room in America but don’t want to expand access to quality health care,” summarized Eric Ferrero, vice president for communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America to MSNBC. “These are the same extreme Koch-funded political groups who have tried to pass transvaginal ultrasound laws and other laws allowing politicians to interfere with people’s personal medical decisions."
The schizophrenic approach to Obamacare and the clampdown on women's health freedoms is proof of the convulsions that Republicans are having out of fear that President Obama might actually be effective in having a significant impact on the country's politics. As Ferrero continued, "These videos are the height of hypocrisy, but more importantly they are irresponsible and dangerous, designed to spread misinformation and discourage people from getting access to high quality, affordable health care.”
The Republicans, both normal and of the Tea Party variety, and these big-money conservatives are failing to recognize that the politics of fear are no longer an effective way to influence the public in the world of real-time information and fact-checking. Their fight against Obamacare is only propelling Obamacare to push further towards proving its efficiency and viability.
Maybe that was the Republicans' plan all along? Nah.