Sunday, October 6, 2013

Who Shut Down the United States?

As I write this, the shutdown blame game continues in Washington. According to the GOP, the Democrats refuse to compromise. The argument is, “We need more time to analyze this 2,500-page train wreck.”
My question is: Given that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed three years ago, how much time do you need?
The Republican answer: Eternity. If that’s true, you must have stupid analysts.
Another GOP argument is that the individual purchase requirement in the law is unconstitutional. The law was duly passed by the Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court. Unconstitutional? I think not.
Next argument: The President has broken the law by postponing the health care employer mandate. October 1st was specified in the law – he is overstepping his power by deferring the requirement.
But wait – the implementation of all laws is prescribed by the agencies charged with enforcing them. Federal agencies have almost unlimited powers concerning the rules covering the execution and administration of the laws. Deferment and individual waivers are granted all the time; this time is no different.
Another argument: Because employers of more than 50 employees are required to cover contraceptives, the law is unconstitutional because it violates the religious freedom of these employers.
Well what about the equal rights of those employees who do not find contraceptives sinful? Are they to be denied rights equal to those enjoyed by employees of religiously neutral employers?
A major argument is, “We can’t afford it.”
The ACA is modeled on the Massachusetts health care insurance reform law, passed in 2006, and signed into law by none other than Governor Mitt Romney, who happened to be the GOP’s favorite son in 2012. In June 2011, a Boston Globe review concluded that the healthcare overhaul "has, after five years, worked as well as or better than expected.” There is nothing to indicate that the ACA will not perform just as well.
There is one potential benefit of the ACA which is seldom mentioned – the economic benefit of having a healthier national work force. According to a study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund1, in 2003 there were 5,372M days of production lost due to worker health problems. As a result, $260B of output was also lost. The universal availability of health care provided by the ACA would go a long way toward reducing this loss.
Republicans, ask yourselves if hanging on to a losing ideology is worth reducing the once proud United States to an international laughing-stock. Ask yourselves if your selfish motives are fulfilling your constitutional mandate to “promote the general welfare.”
But don’t ask yourselves who shut down the United States. You did.

1. Health and Productivity Among U.S. Workers
Karen Davis, Sara R. Collins, Michelle M. Doty,
Alice Ho, and Alyssa L. Holmgren

My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.

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