Call It Affordable Care Act, Not Obamacare

Call it Affordable Care Act; “Obamacare” is trickery

Glitches that have hindered a smooth rollout of the Affordable Care Act have given Republicans some cover and indeed provided a handy diversion, following the hammer blows of contempt directed at the party for its tactics in the government shutdown and debt ceiling fiasco. Such lambasting could only be thwarted by hyperbole-laced throttling of the healthcare law, was how the GOP thinking apparently proceeded. This was obviously where Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell was coming from when he called President Obama’s signature achievement “the worst legislation passed by Congress in the last 50 years.” Which is a peculiar declaration coming from anyone who, for one thing, voted to commit America to an unnecessary, unpopular war in Iraq whose cost has variously been estimated as in excess of the trillion-dollar mark.

Barring some seismic meltdown within the administration, one expects that they will in due course get the better of the system bugs that have facilitated an attack route for opponents of the healthcare measure. Those attacks got tabled for a while as the Republican caucus, led on a leash by its lunatic fringe, obsessed about its efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act, come what may. Only after some sane heads prevailed upon some of their “suicide mission” hardliner colleagues to stop the bleeding, and having by then felt the full weight of the people’s wrath, did enough of them agree to let good sense rule the day. Whereupon they would look up to find the Affordable Care rollout as enticing a target as they might desire.

In this space, we have made a practice of never referring to the president’s healthcare initiative as “Obamacare”. And we have frowned upon even the president’s use of the term, albeit perhaps satirically, because every intoning of that characterization is good for another layer of disrespect aimed at the president himself. “Obamacare” was not the creation of folks who wished the president and his marquee healthcare legislation well. The Affordable Care Act morphed into “Obamacare” at the hands of persons who had every intention of delivering a coded hate message in what for them was a pejorative labeling exercise. Period.

“Obamacare” emerged from the ranks of that venom-filled population sector for whom the audacity of the country electing an African American president was and remains an affront. For them, nothing this president does or attempts to do rates a thumbs-up. That he had the chutzpah to secure a second term only poured more salt in the wound than they see themselves able to abide. Hence the ongoing vulgarity, as opposed to respectful opposition. Every derogatory slam of Barack Obama that they can fiendishly conjure has been fitted for bionic staying power: that he is Muslim, that he is foreign born, that he has terrorist kin and all the rest. We normally associate such sick behavior with certain parts of the country. But if New Yorkers feel somewhat embarrassed it’s perfectly understandable, on account of the presence in their midst of one of the frontline purveyors of this vileness, the odious Donald Trump having taken his slime binge to the extent of questioning whether the president’s academic achievements are real.

“Obamacre” was fashioned for that world of overall denigration that is, in sum, the grand design of these folks’ engagement of what history ordained for the nation, by way of political enlightenment at this time. The name “Obamacare” is part of the drumbeat of delegitimization to which this legion of sadly embittered souls is committed. Some observers have pussyfooted around the idea of calling this racist conduct. We have never seen the need for such tiptoe timidity. This was always unalloyed racism.

Only in their despising of a progressive agenda generally and of the president specifically are Koch brothers types representative of the common or garden Tea Party forces of reaction. Economically, the much maligned Affordable Care Act and constantly assailed “entitlements” like Social Security and Medicare necessarily are lifeline provisions for the bulk of the Tea Party following. Incredibly, a setting is created in which blind hatred eclipses economic reality. A polarizing White House presence having provided all the tools of demagoguery the agents of hate and fear mongering could need, the underclass set become easy, willing pawns in the masterminds’ power game. The tacticians thus driven, a concept like the derisive “Obamacare” gets hatched in the war rooms of the hard right as the search for a strategy that succeeds in running this president out of town proceeds without letup.

Those of us who understand that the concerted attack being waged by the usual suspects against the Affordable Care Act has seen the same obscuring of facts that characterizes response to this administration’s agenda, should abhor “Obamacare” as the demeaning label it is intended to be. The mangling on the other side of what’s factual should no way become a more influential marketplace presence than word about what’s positive about the Affordable Care Act. That pre-existing conditions are no longer a deal-breaker for coverage, that children up to age 26 can be covered on parents’ insurance, that an opportunity for shopping around for the best cove rage deal now exists, etc are features that no amount of propaganda about the “worst legislation in 50 years” could minimize.

Features like those define the Affordable Care Act. “Obamacare” is part of a con devised by tricksters. We should avoid it.

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