Obamacare decision provides comic relief, for some
03 July 2012 | 9:34 | Source: SBS
The United States Supreme Court last week announced it upheld the Affordable Care Act with a tight 5-4 vote. In normal circumstances, the hot air, print, and use of bandwidth
generated by this news should have caused America to catch fire, detach
itself from Canada and Mexico, and slip into the sea.
According to some, the Supreme Court’s decision was the final step in President Obama’s master plan to turn the US into a Communist slave camp where everyone pays unbearable taxes and the government will monitor your physical wellbeing and decide whether you live or die after being interviewed by a panel of unqualified “experts”.
For others, the President had finally, sort of, half-bake delivered on his 2008 election promise to provide affordable healthcare to all Americans and thereby create some kind of idea of shared responsibility among Americans (good luck with that).
As you will and can read elsewhere the decision spun on the vote of a Conservative judge who opted to understand that a part of the new law would require all Americans to buy healthcare or pay a fine was in actuality a tax. This highlights a few issues in understanding how America works.
The first is that the Supreme Court is highly politicised and interpretation of laws is based on political hue. Currently, the Supreme Court is dominated by Conservatives. Justice Roberts flip to the “other” side was unexpected by pretty much every one.
Second, conservative Americans are often outraged that a government should play a role in health care. “Your Pills, Your Bills” claimed the banner of one protestor outside the Supreme Court last week. Conservative Americans, however, have no issue with government playing a role in women’s health care – especially when it comes to reproductive health.
Thirdly, there were actually people protesting a Supreme Court decision that allows about 50 million people (probably more) who previously could not afford health care, the chance to obtain some.
Fourth, America can be very funny during moments of political crisis. Twitter tossed up the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee suggesting “It’s Constitutional. Bitches”. Sarah Palin, the former Vice-Presidential candidate, reminded us she is still alive when she tweeted “Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn't a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies”.
With freedom apparently dead, comedian Dave Rubin accurately summarized: “Only in America would so many overweight, diabetic people with heart disease be upset that they’re gonna have healthcare.”
What the decision has done is provide President Obama and Mitt Romney a clear point of difference ahead of the November election. Romney is against what is pejoratively known as “Obamacare” and has said he will repeal it on the first day of his Presidency, should he be elected.
Of course, America is full of contradictions and “Obamacare” is largely based upon a health care mandate that Romney introduced to Massachusetts when he was that state’s governor. But repealing health care reform, even a program that has many flaws, may not be a vote grabber that Romney is being told it is.
Some estimates suggest Romney’s plans would cause 14 million to 19 million Americans to lose Medicaid coverage and 45 million to 50 million people be negatively affected by any repeal.
That’s quite a lot of potential votes for Obama.