Friday, December 6, 2013

Last Call For Shut Up, Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum.  Still a moron.

"Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that, and that’s the reason he is mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed…and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that."
Because affordable health care policy is just like apartheid.

Even if you despise Obamacare, comparing it to apartheid and implying that the policies of the nation's first African-American president are even remotely equivalent to strict racial segregation laws of South Africa is pure demagoguery on multiple levels.

You can, Mr. Santorum, make that argument.  You can also look like a complete asshole.  America lets you do both.  What a country!

Once, Mandela Even Made The GOP Do The Right Thing

When Ronald Reagan refused to lift a finger to bring America's tremendous economic pressure on South Africa's apartheid government in 1986, the GOP revolted and forced the President to do the right thing.

Even Mitch McConnell.

Conservatives believed the U.S. had no business hectoring the South African government over apartheid. Senator Jesse Helms (R–N.C.), the Senate's leading race-baiter, took the Senate floor to filibuster on behalf of the apartheid government of South Africa. Helms was an old pro at using the filibuster: he had launched a similar one three years earlier against establishing a national holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. He was joined by like-minded conservatives including noted segregationist Strom Thurmond (R–S.C.) and future presidential hopeful Phil Gramm (R–Texas) in voting against the bill's final passage. Over in the House, Representative Dick Cheney (R–Wyo.) joined the minority in opposing the Anti-Apartheid Act. In earlier battles over South Africa, Cheney had denounced Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and argued against his release. 
But conservatives were unable to stop the majority from acting. Congress approved the bill and sent it to President Reagan. 
He vetoed it. 
Reagan took his case directly to the people on a live TV broadcast. He echoed Crocker in urging Americans to be patient with South Africa's apartheid government. Reagan argued that sanctions would disproportionately hurt black South Africans without significantly undermining apartheid, and blamed black extremists for contributing to the violence. Change, if it were to come at all, would happen incrementally. He believed he had sold his case effectively, and considered the matter closed.

This is the Reagan I remember, the one who was truly, completely, and shamefully on the wrong side of both justice and history on a number of issues:  how he destroyed labor and unions with his relentless strikebreaking, how he was content to let thousands die and millions languish in fear with his horrific treatment and dismissal of the AIDS epidemic, and his most despicable act, the veto of the Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986.

Moderate Republicans (they existed back then) were so ashamed, that they overrode Reagan's veto in the House and Senate.  The rest of course is history:

Despite inconsistent enforcement by the Reagan administration, the law triggered a wave of international divestment in the apartheid regime. Banks refused to renew loans to South Africa. Foreign investment dried up, and exports to the U.S. and other countries contracted significantly. The enormous capital flight caused a dramatic decline in the exchange rate of the rand, and in 1989, Prime Minister P.W. Botha resigned. His successor, F.W. de Klerk, announced in his opening address to Parliament the end of the ban against the ANC and other black liberation groups, freedom of the press, and the release of all political prisoners. A few days later, Nelson Mandela walked out of Robben Island a free man after spending 27 years behind bars. Four years later, he was elected South Africa's first black president in the post-apartheid era.
Republican moderates deserve credit for having the courage to go against Reagan in passing the Anti-Apartheid Act. Though denounced by conservatives for their actions, they held firm. As a result, the United States directly contributed to the liberation of millions of people from one of the world's most oppressive regimes. It was a Wilsonian vision of America's ability to create positive change in the world, and it wouldn't have happened without Republicans working in common purpose with Democrats. When Newt Gingrich later became Speaker of the House, his partisan leadership style would make such collaboration all but impossible. But that was still eight years away, and for the moment members of both parties could take pride in what they had accomplished together.

Even Mitch McConnell, as I said, did the right thing.

"In the 1960s, when I was in college, civil rights issues were clear," explained Senator Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.), who voted to pass the Act over Reagan's veto. "After that, it became complicated with questions of quotas and other matters that split people of good will. When the apartheid issues came along, it made civil rights black and white again. It was not complicated."

Which is about the most you can hope for and the most you're ever going to get out of a Republican senator on anything involving race.

PS, Reagan, Poppy Bush, and Dubya all considered Mandela a terrorist.

Endless GOP Sabotage

It's not like sabotaging the Affordable Care Act is new or anything, but our old friends at ALEC are pushing a red state boilerplate bill designed to remove state operating licenses for any insurance company that complies with federal exchange subsidies.

The ALEC bill works like this. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers receive subsidies to help offset costs of insuring more people at lower rates. Separately, businesses with more than 50 employees face a penalty if they don't offer health insurance. 
According to Cannon: "if an employer doesn’t purchase a government-prescribed level of health benefits, some of its workers may become eligible to purchase subsidized coverage through a health insurance 'exchange.' When the IRS issues the subsidy to an insurance company on behalf of one of those workers, that payment triggers penalties against the employer." 
Therefore, Cannon, claims, the penalty is triggered only if an insurance company accepts federal subsidies. The solution? Prohibit insurance companies in the state from accepting subsidies, by threatening to suspend their license. 
The problem is that the federal Affordable Care Act pretty clearly preempts states from implementing such a prohibition
Cannon's argument to the contrary is pretty weak. He acknowledges that the Affordable Care Act preempts state laws that “prevent the application of the provisions of this title,” but argues that Congress envisioned that states would retain their authority to set the terms of those licenses, because only state-licensed insurers can offer coverage on the exchanges. Therefore, Cannon argues, that because Congress made reference to state licensing in the Affordable Care Act, states therefore have free rein to enact restrictions on licenses, even if the exercise of that power would “prevent the application of the provisions of this title.”

It is a creative legal argument, but a pretty thin reed for states to rely upon when setting up a "nuclear option."

The plan of course is twofold:  to force a Supreme Court challenge on the constitutionality of the subsidies for policies bought on the federal exchanges (as well as the provision that stops states from penalizing insurers for complying with the ACA), and to get a friendly enough panel of federal judges to stay the payment of subsidies to states that pass this law while the case lingers in the courts.

If they can drag this out for years, the damage done to families looking for affordable insurance could be massive.  Imagine low-income families getting no subsidies at all to help pay for a plan when they would otherwise qualify, and you begin to see the political and financial carnage that would follow.

Even if the political damage would be mitigated by Republicans getting stuck with the blame, the damage to the federal exchange plan prices in a scenario like this would be pretty huge.  It would effectively shut down Obamacare in those states if allowed to continue, and that's the point.

Expect these laws to start ending up on the books soon as it becomes clear the law is working for people.


Related Posts with Thumbnails