Despite the Supreme Court's affirmation of the Affordable Care Act, the national Republican Party is going into November railing against health care reform and resisting implementation of the new law.

The defection of Chief Justice John Roberts hurt the conservative storyline on health care reform--that it is an unconstitutional socialist plot. But, politically, the Republicans are still planning to use repeal of so-called "ObamaCare" as a major issue in the campaign.

We'll see how successful that is. After all, with more uninsured citizens than any other industrialized country, and widespread dissatisfaction with our health care system, it seems unlikely that running against reform--and defending the status quo--is a winning message.

Expanding access to health care by letting kids stay on their parents' policies until they are twenty-six, and curtailing insurance companies' ability to deny care to people with p conditions like cancer, are popular elements of the Affordable Care Act.

While some people might not like the individual mandate the Court upheld, and much will be made of Roberts calling it a "tax," there are too many problems with the current system to make the anti-reform message all that popular.

Furthermore, as inadequate as it is, ever the Democrats took single-payer health care off the table--the Affordable Care Act shows the vast majority of Americans, who are not rich, that the Democrats have something concrete to offer them.

This is precisely what they need to start winning elections.

If the dismal results of the recall effort in Wisconsin show anything, it is that many low and moderate income Americans do not believe the Democratic Party or unions have their back. They voted for Walker--and against the health care and retirement benefits public sector workers enjoy--because they don't see "the modern equivalent of rural electrification or the G.I. Bill," as the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's Mike McCabe put it.

Health care reform--even the modest expansion Obama has managed to achieve--is an exception.

On the other side, the Republicans are showing their true colors on health care reform. For most people, they favor no health care at all.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin immediately denounced the Supreme Court ruling and declared that he would not implement the Affordable Care Act, ignoring the law's timetable until November. His attorney general then contradicted him, with a public statement that the state is required by law to start meeting the federal timetable.

This is not the first time Walker has tried to shirk his legal obligation to provide health care to poor Wisconsinites. He recently attempted to cut 29,000 children off BadgerCare, Wisconsin's health care program for low-income families, but the federal government blocked the move. He also was blocked from ending Transitional Medical Assistance, a welfare-to-work program that extends BadgerCare benefits for a year after a former welfare recipient gets a new job.

By declaring that Wisconsin is in a budget deficit, Walker was able to implement new premium payments for adults who make more than 133% of the poverty level.

The new premium payments and restrictions include moving people off the program if they are married to someone who has even expensive and inadequate employer-provided health care, cutting people off entirely for a full year instead of six months if they miss a premium payment, and increasing premiums for non-pregnant and non-disabled people who make more than 150% of poverty.

In addition, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families reports that the Walker administration "is still seeking federal approval of a proposal to create a plan with much higher co-pays and more limited benefits, which would cover families with income over the poverty level. If it is approved, the Alternative Benchmark Plan would adversely affect more than 300,000 BadgerCare participants."

Clap-trap about "freedom from government intrusion" does not disguise the mean-spiritedness of these policies.

Maybe now that the Supreme Court has affirmed the Affordable Care Act, Democrats will be emboldened to actually run on it.

If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "Will Labor Learn Recall's Lessons in Battleground States?"

Follow Ruth Conniff @rconniff on Twitter

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.


It's finally setting in: Trump is Trump and he’s not going to change because of winning the nomination.

The new head of the Environmental Protection has a history of suing the agency for trying to do its job.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project