By Al DeKruif
A recent column by Fred Slocum, associate professor of political science at Minnesota State University, attempts to portray the Republican Party of extremism, refusal to compromise and accepting factual reality. I feel for Mr. Slocum’s students if what is taught in class is anything close to what he presents to readers in the The Free Press.
Slocum’s article titled, “Shutdown born by GOP extortion, extremism” suggests his own extreme liberal political bias. There is no question that the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has been unpopular since it was passed and continues to be. An August 2009 CNN poll (1) found a majority — 51 percent — of Americans were opposed to Obamacare and 53 percent said they did not want federal government taking over health care.
In 2010 with no GOP support, and procedures put in place to block amendments, Democrats passed the legislation anyways. Despite the millions spent on promoting the law, American sentiment didn’t change. A Sept. 16, 2013 USA Today Poll (2) showed 53 percent disapproved of Obamacare with only 42 percent approving. With a majority of Americans opposed — it is an extremist according to Slocum to want to put the brakes on this legislation?
Let’s address “extortion.” Slocum should read documents of Founding Fathers. Federalist No. 58 James Madison stated, “power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure (3).” When you have a government that has not passed a budget in five years, passed wildly unpopular legislation, the power of the purse was then and is now a legitimate tool for compromise. Slocum calls this extortion but when Senate Democrats and President said Obamacare was law of the land not subject to compromise, who really was extorting who?
Obamacare is not what it was sold as. Obama told Americans, “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future (4),” “if you like your health care plan you'll be able to keep your health care plan (5),” that premiums would be $2,500 lower than they would have been without the law (6),” and “if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period." (7).
Two independent government entities — the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) — have confirmed that the new law fails to lower health care costs and will increase the deficit but also spends Medicare savings. (8). The Administration has been forced to acknowledge new law will force millions of Americans to lose their current coverage despite Obama’s promise that Americans would be able to keep the coverage that they have. (9).
To make things worse many doctors are refusing to become providers under the new plans.(10) Last but not least we have all seen the lie in the cost savings as most are seeing that plans in the exchanges will have them paying more with higher deductibles. (11)(12).
House Republicans were right in attempting to defund this measure and bring parties to the table to discuss changes. Democrats would not budge one inch. The government was partially shut down. According to Real Clear Politics a majority of Americans leading up to shutdown supported the repeal. (13). Republicans then turned to delay the individual mandate.(14).
While Slocum focuses on that, most of the continuing resolutions that were passed and rejected by Democrats were after the Republicans changed their position — compromise — to delay. What did the president and Senate Democrats do? Dug in, rejected compromise continuing the government shutdown.
What we have with Obamacare is a mess, the website design is a failure, and even the Senate Democrats up for election see it as such. While Senate Democrats circled the wagons and supported the president in the showdown/shutdown they have quickly come to the resolution that in fact that Obamacare was not ready for primetime and have come out to support delays in Obamacare. (15). In fact, Obama said he would veto any legislation that makes him subject to Obamacare. How can this be? That would be extreme would it not?
I'm not sure it is appropriate to call the Affordable Care Act Obamacare when it was only Democrats that voted for it without reading the bill. This is really correctly labeled The Democrats Unaffordable Healthcare Mandate. Please remember next November that Tim Walz and Al Franken rammed this through without one single Republican Vote.
Al DeKruif is a former District 25 state senator. He is the owner of DeKruif Enterprises and Sakatah Trail Resort. He lives in Madison Lake.