By Bob Cesca: It always manages to shock me what far-right conservatives perceive as tyrannical threats to the American way of life. I know I shouldn't be surprised anymore, but perhaps I inexplicably possess a lingering and futile trust in the rationality of humans, as well as our ability to separate right from wrong.
Yeah, I know. Waste of time. I should probably stop that, specifically regarding the far-right. They've so thoroughly lost their grip on basic reality and rational thought in lieu of rah-rah lock-step home team sports cheerleading, they've fallen well beyond the zero barrier of logic and slipped into mind-numbing ignorance and glaringly obvious contradictions.
So it stands to reason they'd consider affordable healthcare to be Soviet style trespass against American democracy and liberty -- to an extent that it justifies armed rebellion and civil war.
Countless far-right Republicans reacted with exactly that sort of knee-jerk response to the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act last week. It's the end of America, they wrote. It will precipitate a war between various armed right-wing factions and the Obama government (presumably all liberals will be included in the latter). I'm sure that one of these days in the coming weeks there will be a news story about how gun shops enjoyed an increase in sales beginning on June 28, 2012, coinciding with the Supreme Court's ruling on the ACA.
Because there's a law that makes healthcare more affordable.
Only around 1 in 10 Americans and, therefore 1 in 10 Republicans, will be mandated to buy health insurance. And if they don't, their taxes will go up a little. In 2014, it'll be $95 or one percent of income -- whichever is more. Boo-hoo. In other words, ten percent of all Republicans, if they choose, can either have affordable, robustly-subsidized health insurance with significant consumer protections and pay into the pool thus becoming part of the solution, or they can be deadbeats and pay the tax penalty while remaining uninsured and, thus, a burden on the system. And if they choose to be neither -- rebuffing their much ballyhooed "personal responsibility" life rule -- they won't be penalized in any way. Fact: there's no enforcement mechanism in the tax penalty. If you don't pay it, the government can't force you. But you should pay it.
This is evidently why they're freaked out.
And guess who invented the mandate? As we all know by now, it wasn't President Obama and the Democrats. It was conservative Republicans like Jim DeMint, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Chuck Grassley and, yes, Mitt Romney who decided that people would game the system by only purchasing insurance when they needed, unless there was some kind of coercive sanction forcing people to buy into the system. Republicans created the mandate. And now, Republicans have told us that the mandate is a civil war-inducing concept that's turned the government into a Soviet-style dictatorial regime. Therefore, according to their own logic, Republican ideas are equal to Soviet ideas. (Personally, I would prefer if the exchange choices included the public option so we could avoid buying private insurance, but I'm hopeful that a public option will be added to the mix -- likely at the state level.)
When the Roberts Court said it was permissible for the military and intelligence establishment to torture people, it was a triumph for conservatives. When the Roberts Court said it was okay for corporations to control our election process with limitless cash that no citizen group or individual could ever possibly hope to match, it was a triumph for conservatives. The USA PATRIOT Act was a triumph. Illegal wiretaps and data-mining are a triumph. Subsidies for Big Oil and Big Agribusiness are a triumph -- even though taxpayers are essentially mandated to pay tax dollars to oil companies while Big Oil earns record profits by gauging consumers. Republicans at the state level have decided that it's okay to force women during the most difficult hours of their lives to pay for transvaginal probes. Elsewhere, they're forcing voters to attain "Voter IDs" -- not as a means of thwarting the rare instances of fraud, but as a means of disenfranchising potential Democratic voters.
But affordable health insurance must be stopped with prejudice, outrage, secession and bullets. One person on Twitter likened the decision to "rape." Worse yet, some Republicans said they'd move to Canada if the law was upheld. Yes, Canada -- where purchasing government-run health insurance is mandatory for all citizens.
Meanwhile, a majority of Republicans actually like all of the provisions in the law except for the mandate (which they invented). So it wouldn't even really be a war over the law -- it would be a war over a small section of the law. I doubt they could muster an army with the rallying cry: "We will fight Obamacare! Not all of it, though! Just the mandate part! We hate that part! The rest is okay! Death to Obamacare, anyways! To arms!"
Not that I'm taking the civil war threat too seriously, but I'd like to note here that an actual rebellion would utterly fail. We're supposed to believe that a few ignorant yokels (who previously supported the mandate, but who suddenly hate it) are going to enter a hot war against the government and the most powerful military in the history of the world and actually win? Over healthcare? Hilarious and tragic.
The last time civil war occurred on American soil, more than 620,000 Americans were killed and the rebellious South was destroyed and humiliated. The former Confederacy lost 18 percent of its white male population aged 13-43. Three percent of the total American population was killed or wounded. Individual income in the South dropped by 40 percent. And they lost. All of those lives were sacrificed for nothing. These are just a few of a thousand reasons why the notion of an armed rebellion over something like the Affordable Care Act shouldn't be casually tossed around. But if you decide that "anti-healthcare reform" is your Cause, you'd better be prepared for carnage. And good luck paying for the healthcare required to treat the wounded.