Miller’s first law of political rhetoric holds that when one party in a Washington debate resorts to certifiably Orwellian language, they’re desperate, doomed or both.
Yet there’s no other way to view the latest Republican assault on Obamacare. The GOP sees blood in the water because the White House (sensibly) put off the employer mandate for a year. The truth is there shouldn’t have been an employer mandate at all — a point to which we’ll return in a future column — but Republicans have seized on the hook of this supposed “snafu” to hang their latest faux outrage.
A senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the host of the new podcast “This...Is Interesting,” Miller writes a weekly column for The Post.
“Is it fair for the president of the United States to give American businesses an exemption from his health-care law’s mandates, without giving the same exemption to the rest of America? Hell no, it’s not fair,” House Speaker John Boehner told his caucus Tuesday.
“I never thought I’d see the day when the White House, this president, came down on the side of big business, but left the American people out in the cold as far as this health-care mandate is concerned,” said a mock-shocked Eric Cantor.
“We agree with you that the burden was overwhelming for employers,” Republican leaders wrote to the president Tuesday, “but we also believe American families need the same relief.”
The same relief? How dumb do they think Americans are? “Relief” from the certainty that they’ll have access to group health coverage no matter their health status? “Relief” from income-based subsidies if they need help to buy a private health plan? “Relief” from finally knowing that they can never go broke from serious illness in one of the richest countries on earth? “Relief” from the job lock that binds countless Americans to large employers when they’d rather start a business or work on their own, but fear that if their family has any health issues they’d be left to fend for themselves? “Relief” from at last joining the community of advanced nations that view health coverage for all as an essential feature of a decent society, a view embraced decades ago even by conservative icons such as Margaret Thatcher?
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Barack Obama is a tool of big business and an enemy of the people.
To listen to Boehner and Cantor, you’d have no idea that Obamacare’s design has a thoroughly conservative pedigree. The line clearly goes from the Heritage Foundation to that group’s collaborations with the Democratic Leadership Council to Romneycare to Obamacare. Republicans may be tired of hearing this truth, but if it isn’t repeated at moments like this, the extent of the GOP’s doublespeak will go unpoliced.
Hell (to borrow a phrase from the speaker), a dozen years ago I wrote an Atlantic Monthly piece that showed how single-payer Democrat Jim McDermott and ultra-conservative Ways and Means Committee leader Jim McCrery could agree on this model of subsidized private coverage with community rating and access to group rates as a path to universal coverage that honored both parties’ values. In Massachusetts, Mitt Romney and Ted Kennedy then showed this deal could be struck in the real world. It’s all there in black and white. You can’t shove this down the memory hole, Mr. Boehner.