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Obama Stands Alone

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Congressional Democrats continue to tie themselves into knots and bolt from their party to placate aggressive Republicans anxious to kill President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As Republicans remain united in their efforts to kill the landmark law and obstruct any and all Democratic approaches to improving the quality of life of all Americans, Democrats waffle, dance and vacillate on issue after issue recently culminating with 39 of them voting to support a Republican bill that only seeks to undermine the ACA, the Democratic Party, and president Obama.

Time and time again, even when it came to shutting down government, Republicans have remained united and focused in their pursuit, not only of the ACA, but against any policy decisions made by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. House Speaker John Boehner, Tea Party darling Ted Cruze, and others have attacked, called the president a liar, questioned his patriotism, called him an outlier (he was not born in the United States) and impugned his reputation over and over again.

Democrats have not pushed back. Have not called out the president's detractors and exposed their lies and deceits, or stood up and defended him. They have remained meek, mild, whorish and accommodating reminiscent of battered wife syndrome. Democrats have remained silent in the face of this unrelenting, brutal and sustained attack against one of their own. Now 39 of them have voted for and supported a Republican bill that is simply a tool to break off a piece of the ACA. No Republican would have voted for this bill if the shoe was on the other foot.

Time and time again Democrats have left their man standing alone. They have joined Republicans to vilify and castigate President Obama in ways that suggest a deep racist approach to dealing with America's first Black president. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), a largely toothless organization, has been at odds with the president because he correctly does not see them as partners or demonstrating any spine or backbone when it comes to key policy issues.

So they are only too eager to sock it to the present when the opportunity arises. Trouble is even though the CBC has a valid beef with President Obama behaving like Republicans just to spite him is patently arsine because that ultimately helps Republicans who NEVER   vote with Democrats and like nothing better than to undermine their power and prestige.

Yeah, as a Congressional Democrat it's very easy to be angry with President Obama and his administration's a handling of the ACA roll out. There is the horrid website issue, his unilateral statement about "keeping your insurance policy if you like it" and the Republican frontal attacks to make sure that the ACA fails. And you can chide him, join with Republicans to excoriate him, and jump up on the anti-Obamacare bandwagon to make your point.

But with all of that said, I just can't understand why 39 Democrats votes for a bill in the House that would allow people to retain current, substandard individual policies, and renew them next year even if they don't provide the basic coverage required by the Affordable Care Act. Maybe those bozos never bothered to read the ACA in the first place or they just voted out of plain spite making them no different to House Republicans.

Maybe, like spoiled little children, it's their bid to get attention from the president, a kind of protest vote to stick it to him. I don't know. But if that's what it is then the Democratic Party is in a real bad state and 2014 looks more and more like a Republican white wash. Or maybe it's just a bit of posturing based on the knowledge that Senate Democrats will demonstrate more maturity and not give this utterly stupid bill the time of day.

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Still, it's impossible to accept the votes as a desire by Democrats to fix the particular problem of people who got cancellation notices for individual plans. Or to get the website up and running to placate Republicans who keep selling the public a really disingenuous fallacy that the ONLY way to sign up for insurance under the ACA is through the website.

Then there is the Republican governors' near unanimity of purpose to kill the ACA. For one thing, if those people could not get on the federal exchange, they might have been able to go to state-run exchanges. But live in states where Republican governors refused to set them up. For another, the bill passed by the House on a vote of 261-157 is not about providing a temporary fix. It is intended to cut the heart out of the health care reform program by allowing people to go on buying substandard policies next year.

The Obama Administration and wussy Democrats in the House have not explained the ACA to ordinary people. For example, they have not told people that many of those junk policies are an illusion with catastrophically high deductibles and out-of-pocket spending ceilings.   The New York Times reported recently about the insurance that the right-wing group Generation Opportunity was hawking last month. According to the Times Juliet Lapidos wrote on Oct. 28, the $40.84 a month plan did not cover office visits for primary care doctors or specialists. It has a $10,000 a year deductible and if you ended up in the emergency room, you would have had to pay 20 percent of the bill after the deductible. The same applied to outpatient surgery and hospitalization.

Even with all that the essential fact is that under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) it may well be that insurance bought on the new exchanges costs more, but it will provide real coverage. In short, it will be worth the money. The insured will not have to pay for preventative procedures like prostate cancer and mammogram screenings, dental checkups, eye care check-ups, colonoscopies and a host of other screenings that hitherto cost lots of money -- especially challenging when it comes to low-income and working families.

Under the ACA, there will no lifetime caps and you cannot be denied insurance for pre-existing conditions. Then there is a sliding fee scale based on your ability to pay. Lower cost for medications for seniors on Medicaid and the fact that individuals can keep their children on their plans up to age 26. No insurance policy in effect right now offers these benefits.

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For me if that means a bit higher premium when compared to your present junk policy its well worth the money. The House voted, 261-157, to pass the bill by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). It's a significant show of disloyalty to the White House, but House Democrats had expected the defections to be far higher. I only hope they come to their senses -- fast.

The significant thing is that no matter what Republicans do they can rely on the support of some "loyal Democrats." It's as if Democrats like to wallow in self hate behaving like peevish children angling to embarrass President Obama. It is a very sad spectacle to watch a Democratic president standing virtually alone while members of his own party join with his political enemies for no good reason. They cannot seem to grasp the fact that Republicans what to kill the ACA. They are scared that it will succeed and Americans, when they get to know the truth, will like it.

Funny, these days there is no talk about death panels, killing granny and a host of other crap that Republicans peddled to undermine the ACA. Now it's the website, President Obama lying or Benghazi. Never about the 48 million uninsured Americans that the ACA targets and the fact that this is not universal healthcare but private insurance packaged in a more humane form.

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MICHAEL D. ROBERTS is a top Political Strategist and Business, Management and Communications Specialist in New York City's Black community. He is an experienced writer whose specialty is socio-political and economic analysis and local (more...)
 

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