THAT Explains It….

I’ve never been able to understand the hysteria of Obamacare’s opponents.

I certainly “get” political disputes, policy disagreements, differing approaches to economic analysis…but the mean-spiritedness, the over-the-top vitriol, the consistent lies about what the law does and how it works, and the ongoing contrived legal attacks motivated solely by a desire to deny poorer Americans access to medical care have astonished me.

From whence the paranoia?

A recent story at Talking Points Memo may provide an answer.

In case the situation with the latest Obamacare lawsuit, King v. Burwell, wasn’t surreal enough, along comes the anti-Obamacare lawyer Michael Carvin, and some of his, um, more colorful ideas about why the Affordable Care Act is bad law. Trying to contrast the ACA with the constitution, Carvin characterized the ACA as “a statute that was written three years ago, not by dead white men but by living white women and minorities.”

It’s startling to see an Obamacare opponent so bluntly characterize efforts to destroy the law as a way to preserve white male privilege in this way, much less taking it so far as to suggest the privileges of dead white men count for more than the needs of living women and people of color. But it shouldn’t be. The race- and-gender-based opposition to the ACA has been baked into the fight against it from the beginning, when the bill was very nearly derailed by opponents claiming that it would somehow override federal bans on funding abortion.

Since then, though rarely with as much directness as Carvin, the conservative fight against Obamacare has been about needling the gender- and race-based resentments of the conservative base in an effort to demonize Democratic efforts to create universal health care.


Social science, as Paul Waldman showed in the Washington Post last May, bears this out: Attitudes about race and about the ACA are tightly interwoven. Research has shown that negative attitudes about black people increase hostility to health care reform, that opinions about health care reform polarized by racial attitudes after Obama’s election, and that nativist attitudes predicted hostility to health care reform. Research has found that white people with high racial resentment, regardless of their opinion on Obama, view health care reform as a giveaway to lazy black people. You can see why people don’t say these things out loud in public, but the eyebrow-wriggling and hinting has been strong throughout this debate.

The gender-baiting, in contrast, has been way more explicit. Ever since the HHS announced that contraception would be covered as co-pay-free preventive service, conservative media has gleefully portrayed the ACA as a program to give hot young sluts an opportunity to screw on the public dime, an argument that managed to get this narrow provision all the way to the Supreme Court. Never mind that young women with private insurance are no more on the public dime than any other people who have private health insurance. The idea that sexy young things are having fun without you but making you pay for it has been just too provocative for conservative pundits to let facts get in the way.

I’d love to reject this thesis, but its explanatory power is too persuasive.


  1. It’s like Bill Maher said, this weekend. Veterans already get their socialism; government workers already get their socialism; retired government workers already get their socialism. Socialism works. Why can’t everyone else get their socialism?

    The jobs most sought by Republicans are military member and police officer, and these are both large-scale socialist enterprises with large socialistic benefits that give Republicans a socialist lifetime safety net, yet Republicans recoil at the thought of anyone else getting socialism.

    Republicans like to think they are part of a narrow elite that everyone else has to toil away forever to serve.

  2. Pat, like Bill Maher also said “Not all Republicans are racist, but if you are a racist, and you’re looking to join a political party…”

  3. It’s no surprise that nutritional support and medical care save lives. They are pro-life measures that require investment to yield dividends. I recall an interview statement by former Health, Education, and Welfare Secretary Joe Califano that Medicare did more than any other piece of legislation to lift black Americans out of poverty.

    Califano wrote an article in 1999 citing the immense dividends gained from federal investments in nutrition, education, and health care during Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency. It’s an amazing track record.

    Fifty years ago, food stamp and school breakfast programs began as did Medicare and Medicaid. As just one indicator of success, infant mortality stood at 26 deaths for each 1,000 live births when LBJ took office; at the time of Califano’s article, it had improved dramatically to only 7.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, a reduction of almost 75 percent.

    Since 1965, millions of Americans have signed up for Medicare and qualified for Medicaid. By 1997 – in a single generation – life expectancy jumped 10% from an average of 69.7 years 76.5 years of age. Califano reports that “the jump was highest among the less advantaged, suggesting that better nutrition and access to health care have played an even larger role than medical miracles”.

    LBJ realized that more medical professionals would be needed to provide medical care for those signing up for Medicare and Medicaid. He sought and won federal investments in higher education to increase the supply of medical professionals and researchers. The number of doctors doubled from 8,000 to 16,000 as a result.

    The 1968 Heart, Cancer and Stroke legislation funded creation of medical centers in major cities across the country. Investments in medical research at the National Institutes of Health “have played a key part in establishing our nation as the world’s leader in basic research, pharmaceutical invention, and the creation of surgical procedures and medical machinery to diagnose our diseases, breathe for us, clean our blood, and transplant our organs”.

    Governmental investment has paid huge dividends in both the quality and quantity of life for Americans. The ACA’s goal is to extend those dividends to more of the taxpayers who helped pay for the investments.

  4. Former Gopper–great comment. What I don’t understand is that the republicans have taken the dems right along with them. I haven’t gone anywhere in my political life, but I notice the democrats have lurched to the right and expect me to shut up and follow. Actually, the Democrats are more disciplined than the republicans when it comes to the party faithful. NO PRIMARYING. So there is less and less daylight between a Hilary Clinton and a Jeb Bush. No wonder Obama foreign policy looks like Murder Inc replacing the Marquis de Sade.

  5. You should talk to people at the bottom end of the economic scale who find that their premiums under Obamacare have doubled and their deductibles tripled. That is if they can even get coverage under Obamacare.

  6. Doug, right on.

    “Obama’s agenda has always centered on hope and change. And those who are obsessed with their narrative of decline cannot abide hope and change.”

    It boils down to who’s reonsible for us. Are we? Have we been given the necessary tools and capabilities? Are we, as the folks in Selma, capable of throwing off our chains and living free? Our are we nothing more than the petulant children of God. only capable of being what He makes us be?

    And, are “we” only white, wealthy, Christian, heterosexual males?

    If “we” are only those, and only the children of God, decline is all good as it means the reappearances of Christ is at hand. Just a little more decline and we’ll finally be given back our King who will rule us and defeat all of the non white, wealthy, Christian, heterosexual males (except of course those others who serve them like white hetertosexual (but not too) women and others who do our work).

    But what if humanity is responsible for humanity? What if it’s only up to us? What if we’re adults and we share all of the world with other adults much more similar than different?

    What if either Heaven is vacant or occupied by a God who loves us as we love our adult children? Would he be saying, “that’s not something that I would choose, and here’s why, but you’re your own person now and I’ll love you no matter what, and only you can be you, so here’s my blessing”?

    Acting like adults brings about hope and change even in children.

    There is zero risk in trying it no matter who’s in heaven. Let the radicals be enslaved to a tyrant who rewards absolute loyalty with absolute power over those they don’t like.

    As for me, I’ll take liberty and accept the responsibility that comes with it.

  7. And Paul. Health care premiums aren’t a cause but an effect. The effect of the unchecked cancer of health care costs in this country. Headed towards $1 in every $5 that we spend.

    Apparent someone else has been paying yours.

  8. Family members who have employer provided private insurance have seen their premiums increase by between 10 to 15% annually in the last 5 years, deductibles rising by as much as 200%. Increased premiums and higher deductibles are being experienced across the board. What alternative do those 11 million + who are enrolled in the ACA? Paul, do you have a better plan?

  9. Excuse my verbosity.

    The premise from Doug’s post that I based mine on is wrong. Hope and change are universal human attributes. Mine is based on our human capabilities. Hyper-Christians base theirs on the return of their King to smite all those different.

  10. We all understand most of what is going on here–not ‘all’ but ‘most’. It was all about trashing President Obama in as many ways as possible, starting with stripping the correct name of the Affordable Health Care Act and renaming it ‘Obamacare’ as ‘they’ spewed that word out of their filthy, racist mouths. They’ve had a field day with him and his policies, in case somebody has not picked up on it. Odd that they choose to ignore the President’s white heritage altogether, don’t you think?

    I have to say that in the early 1920’s, not many young men attended college (likely on their own nickel), but my father did. He was not a racist. I have his near-100-year-old SAE mug (OK, beer stein). Needless to say that he would be horrified at what has happened with SAE at the University of Oklahoma. (And not every SAE is a racist, by any means.) Since SAE chapters are going down like dominoes, I guess I will hang onto the mug a while longer. I had planned to donate the mug to the chapter at the university where he attended, but the chapter and its contents may be in the dumpster by morning.

    Who said racism is dead or dying? That hideous notion has reared its ugly head again and the cancer is spreading. We must keep President Obama’s theme of ‘hope and change’ alive by doing the best we can. “If it is to be…it’s up to me!”

  11. I have had contact with several health care providers that feel compelled to lambast Obamacare. Disconcerting. Several of them are also clearly peddling for Big Pharma in a big way. I would say that there are profound economic reasons for some of these incharitable and excessive views. Are there any studies around that plumb the economic benefits that these critics stand to gain?

  12. Polk Salad Annie; are those health care providers who are lambasting “Obamacare” aware of the fact that Pence’s state health care system (and probably all other state systems) does not allow applicants to apply to the ACA till they have been denied coverage by ALL providers listed in the state system which includes Medicaid? I am only guessing when I assume this denial is protected under “state’s rights”. My daughter-in-law was paying $450 monthly through her employment for family coverage with a $9,600 annual deductable. She applied as required to the state system in October 2013, the state system lost her application, went through the process again in December 2013. Told in January 2014 they were not releasing application status to applicants till April or May and would not accept application to specific providers till till after March 31, 2014 – the deadline to apply for ACA. Late June 2014 they approved her for coverage through one specific provider at $1,200 monthly with a $12,000 annual deductable. She opted to reapply through her employment; was fined $900 for those few months she wasn’t covered because she trusted the system to be honest in offering affordable health care to everyone. There is no way to know what was available to her family and thousands of others in this state and other states through the ACA because they were not allowed the freedom to apply. Are those lambasting health care providers aware of this? We have all read pros and cons regarding the ACA; the very fact that Republicans continue battling to repeal it – even through SCOTUS – proves it is a beneficial health care source. They have also lost sight of the fact that major portions of the ACA are the benefits Republicans attempted to pass during the Bush administration.

    As for big Pharma; I commented recently that my daughter was so near death that Eskenazi hospital found someone to cover her co-pay of $700 PER PILL for life-saving Harvoni. The full cost is $1, 152.58 PER PILL, it takes basically 6 weeks of treatment to work. This is unconscionable and should be illegal. The TV adds offer this miracle cure to Hepatitis C sufferers with no indication they cannot afford to pay for it.

  13. Paul Ogden: Who has created many of the impediments to people obtaining coverage under ACA?

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