Monday, October 14, 2013

Hypocrite? Ted Cruz, We Don't Believe You!

Sorry Sen. Cruz, it’s hard for me to believe you.

Tell me if you’ve heard this before:  It will increase the national debt.  Enrollment will be a train wreck.  It’s just too confusing.  Let’s just delay it.  The President did a poor job with messaging.  The government shouldn’t get between you and your healthcare providers.  
Or you may have heard something like this: 
“The denouncers said the new benefit was too expensive, too complicated, a boondoggle created by the [health care] industry, and yet another example of bad public policy run amok.”

Does any of this sound familiar?  I bet you’d attribute all these comments to Sen. Cruz, wouldn’t you?  If I was referring to “Obamacare,” you’d be correct.  But I’m not.  Nope, these comments were made some 10 years before “Obamacare.”  These are just a handful of the comments directed towards the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA)of 2003, better known as Medicare Part D.  And, as far as I can tell, Sen. Cruz, Rep. Bachmann, Gov. Palin, etc., said nothing.  They did nothing.  And we certainly didn’t see any anger or rage or disdain from anyone on the right demanding a shutdown or default.  No demands to recall congressional members.  No threats to impeach President Bush.  No filibusters.  No debt ceiling threats.  No offensive commercials.  No budget battles.  No crashing town hall meeting to shot down congressional members.  And, I certainly don’t recall ANYONE yelling “You Lie!” during President Bush’s State of the Union addresses.        

Now, you may be asking, “What does Medicare Part D have to do with ‘Obamacare?’” 

Well, good question. 

To me, there are many similarities between the two programs.  So much so, that most arguments for made towards one would also apply to the other.  Think about it, both focused on providing better insurance coverage.  Both use a partnership between the private and public sectors.  Both establish mandatory insurance standards.  Both used graduated cost scales for payments to/from states.  Both employ subsidies/penalties for employers.  Both required outreach and education in a short time frame.  Both establish cost-sharing requirements to keep down costs.  And both require the government to provide income-based subsidies to help pay for coverage.  I’m sure there are plenty of others, but you get the idea. 

Yet, with all the similarities, the Tea Party – or more accurately giving the year, those who would go on to become Tea Partiers – said and did… NOTHING.    It wasn’t as if they weren’t in positions to not say something.  They were.  Cruz was the Solicitor General for the State of Texas under Gov. Perry, another anti-Obamacare Tea Party sympathizer.  So it would’ve been well within both of their job descriptions to not only say something, but DO something.  But still they did nothing.  Well, to be fair, Texas (read: Gov. Perry) did sue over the bill’s “clawback” provision.  A provision, ironically, that “Obamacare” scaled back because of the financial burden it placed on States.  But other than that, silence.  Come on now, it’s not like Cruz is shy or something.  Quite the contrary.  As Solicitor General, Cruz drafted an amicus brief which was signed by the attorney generals in 31 states in the D.C. vs.Heller handgun case.  Clearly, speaking out against federal legislation was NOT a shortcoming of Solicitor General Cruz.

So what changed?  What was the earth altering phenomenon which caused a (larger number than desired) group professional, politically like-minded adults to completely change their political positions.  What caused Republicans that voted “YES” in 2003 to turn around and not only vote “NO” to "Obamacare," but are SOOO outraged, that they shutdown the most powerful government in the world.  Why?  If you say “Obamacare” is the reason, then I’d say that you’re full of shit.  And here’s why:
Conservatives call "Obamacare" illegitimate because it was passed into law along party lines
and rammed down the throats of Republicans.

Well, that may be so.  To me, that’s politics; that’s the system.  If your side lost, then yeah, it stands to   Too bad you don’t carry that same feeling with you when you grab the majority.   
reason that you’d probably dislike many of the laws passed while you sit in the minority.

I guess power does corrupt. 

You see, like “Obamacare,” Medicare Part D was – as you might have guessed – passed along party lines.  

It was passed by a Republican majority in the House.  It was passed by a Republican majority in the Senate.  And it was signed into law by a Republican president – all over almost-unanimous Democratic objection.  Yet… silence from the extreme right wing.  Nothing.  Zilch.  Also, I think it should be noted that while the Democrats stood in opposition to the law (another political flip flop since most support “Obamacare”), NO ONE attempted to shut down the government.  Why not?

Conservatives also like to play medium and channel the “will of the people.”  You’d hear them say that the American people don’t like it, don’t understand it, and don’t want it!

Really?  I guess that means we should just ignore the most recent presidential campaign, the debates, and even the re-election? 

Okay, fine.  For sake of argument, I’ll ignore it…

Instead, let’s look at the numbers and see what they revel.  Now, to be clear, I’m not 100% supportive of using poll numbers as the basis of an argument.  Especially since the numbers surrounding “Obamacare” do not accurately reflect what the public REALLY feels.  But since the numbers are used as ammunition for Ted Cruz and the like, let’s go with it.

You may be shocked to know that while Medicare Part D – which, by-the-way, didn’t have anywhere NEAR the vitriol, disdain and flat-out lies hurled at it – was, by far, less popular with the American people than Obamacare.

Upon implementation, 21% of the public had a favorable opinion of the program in April 2005 compared to 35% in April 2013 for the Affordable Care Act.  If “they don’t like it” is a legitimate reason to stand against laws like these two, then why did Boehner (for example) vote FOR Medicare Part D?  I mean, shouldn’t he have stood up for Americans?  It’s okay to use that argument today.  But not in 2003?

Furthermore, the public was way more confused about Medicare Part D than “Obamacare.”  And that’s not hyperbole.  I LIVED it!  I was literally on the front-lines and witnessed the confusion first-hand.  Beyond that, 66% percent of Americans felt that they didn’t have enough information about Medicare Part D to know if it would impact them or not compared to 49% for “Obamacare.”  While neither are great numbers, if Sen. Cruz’s reason to stop progress was based on numbers, how outraged was he in 2005?  It appears, the answer is… not very.  

Oh, by the way: Today, Medicare Part D has a 90% favorability rating with seniors.  It makes you wonder how successful Obamacare would be if you didn’t have Republicans trying to sabotage it.  Doesn’t it?

All the implementation issues are proof that “Obamacare” will fail. 

Well, against my attempts to not sound like a broken record… yes, Medicare Part D ALSO had implementation issues. 

Similar to Obamacare, Medicare Part D was plagued with implementation issues.  There were tons of   The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services didn’t have the resources to reach all the communities to appropriately implement the new law.    The Social Security Administration had the resource but only had part of the law and could adequately respond to public’s demands.  It was, quite literally, a colossal mess.  Folks were confused, angry, and Fed_UP. (LOL – see what I just did there… “Fed_UP"… get it… whatever…)

Where “Obamacare” websites had ‘glitches’ and other tech issues, folks calling the 1- 800# looking for assistance for Medicare Part D was met with long wait-times, unexpected disconnects, and even inaccurate information.  After witnessing how badly implantation was going, the government had to set up local support teams to help answer questions and respond to the outrage.  Heck, even the conflict between the federal law and state regulations caused problems.  Ironically, many Red states actually spend money to HELP with the implementation of Medicare Part D.  You mean to tell me, on one hand a state spends money, on the other hand, the LITERALLY turn their noses up to BILLIONS of dollars?  WTF?

It. Was. A. Mess. 

However, as we can tell by today’s numbers, it got better. 

Another Tea Party favorite is that Obamacare will explode the deficit and add to the National Debt. 

I’ll keep this short and sweet:
The CBO said that Obamacare “will reduce federal deficits by $210 billion over the 2012 – 2021 period.”
The CBO said the Medicare Part D bill would add $534 billion to the deficit. 

Any questions?

To recap:  Medicare Part D was passed along party lines, was extremely unpopular and confusing, and was going to explode the deficit.  However, we heard nothing from conservatives and the extreme right-wing then, but they are the central obstruction to progress today.  To borrow from Ezra Klein, shutting down the government over “Obamacare” by many of the same people who voted for Medicare Part D is like “watching arsonists calling the fire department reckless.”

Bottomline, Sen. Cruz, I don’t believe you.  If you’re so outraged by “Obamacare” where were you when Medicare Part D was being “forced” upon us?  Is your heroism time-bound?  Is it only out of convenience?  How can I respect your position when it appears you just pulled it out of your ass? 

Maybe it’s time for our government to institute more standards to keep saboteurs out because to me, you look more like a Manchurian-like mercenary than an American Senator. 

BTW, in case you were wondering:  Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Steve King, Peter King, Eric Cantor, Joe “You Lie” Wilson, and Rick Santorum are just a few of the Republicans who voted FOR Medicare Part D. 

Can anyone justify the extreme positions of supporting Medicare Part D and be against “Obamacare?”
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