There’s a theme emerging in the depressing story of current American political behavior. Call it karma, irony or profound stupidity leading to a boomerang effect.
A couple of days ago, I described a local election campaign in which the dishonest and unethical efforts of a State Senator who had previously had a reputation as one of the more honorable contemporary Republicans had instead brought disrepute on a family name that, until now, had identified admirable members of a Hoosier political family.
Tuesday, Paul Krugman pointed to yet another example of probable karma–in their determination to re-elect Donald Trump and their haste to co-opt the Supreme Court (ostensibly to “save” babies they refuse to feed once they’re born), the GOP is facilitating the death-knell of Obamacare and the ability of both Republican and Democratic Americans with pre-existing conditions to obtain health insurance.
If you or someone you care about are among the more than 50 million Americans suffering from pre-existing medical conditions, you should be aware that the stakes in this year’s election go beyond abstract things like, say, the survival of American democracy. They’re also personal. If Donald Trump is re-elected, you will lose the protection you’ve had since the Affordable Care Act went into effect almost seven years ago.
The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made this even more obvious. In fact, it’s now possible that coverage of pre-existing conditions will be stripped away even if Trump loses to Joe Biden, unless Democrats also take the Senate and are prepared to play serious hardball. But health care was always on the line.
Naive members of the GOP base either don’t understand this, or don’t care, or believe Trump’s repeated promises to issue a “wonderful plan” that will replace the Affordable Care Act and protect those with pre-existing conditions.
As Krugman points out, we’ve been hearing about how imminent that plan is for four years, and there’s still no sign of it. (Krugman suggests that administration officials may have been” too busy botching their response to the coronavirus” to get to the task of crafting a healthcare plan. “Did I mention that, as we pass the 200,000 deaths mark, cases appear to be rising again?”)
In 2017, the last time Republicans did offer their own health care plan, the Congressional Budget Office calculated that it would cause 32 million Americans to lose health insurance, and others would face much higher premiums. That calculation didn’t come from “fake news” sources, but from the budget office of a Republican administration.
And what about that promise to people with pre-existing conditions?
The Trump administration is backing a lawsuit, now before the Supreme Court, claiming that a fairly minor provision in the 2017 tax cut somehow rendered the whole Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. It’s a ludicrous argument — but Republican judges in lower courts have backed it anyway, and a court without Ginsburg is more likely to let partisanship override any pretense of respect for logic.
The odds that the court will destroy Obamacare, and with it protection for pre-existing conditions, will obviously go up if Trump is able to install a right-wing partisan to replace Ginsburg.
For many members of the Trumpian base, loss of their health insurance would be karma– their overwhelming desire to hurt people who look, love and pray differently would have brought disaster on themselves. Much like the situation with masks–if the only people being hurt were the selfish know-nothings and bigots refusing to be inconvenienced to save the lives of their neighbors– the rest of us could probably live with that result. (I know–that’s horrible. But I never said I was nice.) Unfortunately, however, the trite sentiment is also true: we really are “all in this together.”
Dishonesty, stupidity and bigotry do come back to bite their promoters–the problem is, they get the rest of us, too.