Yesterday the Republicrats managed to shut down the government. While I’d agree with many of my friends that this piece of political theatre is largely the province of the GOP and the Tea Party, there’s more than a bit of blame going for the Dems. Some thoughts:
1. I tour a play about a priest who dressed as a clown and disabled a nuclear missile–I think I’ve mentioned it. Because I recently performed it, I have been reminded that the US still sits atop a huge nuclear weapons stockpile. Estimates by groups involved in nuclear disarmament put the total US weapon count at 1,950 strategic weapons (i.e., high-yield warheads deployed on missiles) and another 200 non-strategic weapons (most likely bombs with ‘battlefield’ weapon explosive force). There are also several thousand in stockpile, so the US total is 7,700 nuclear bombs. People don’t think about this all that much these days. But there’s a reason politicians seemed to take their jobs a bit more seriously back in the Cold War days of Ike and LBJ–there was always the thought that it could all be over in a matter of minutes, that everything we cared about could disappear into a radioactive cloud. The Congressional clownies who can’t get it done about fixing the deficit or getting medical care for middle class people are the clownies who have the power to destroy all life on earth at their fingertips. It would be nice if somebody with some gravitas would remind everybody that the stories of drunk congresscreatures will stay with voters for a long time, and maybe the net-net is that voters won’t trust these guys with life-and-death decisions. Heck, right now I wouldn’t trust these guys to watch my sea monkeys while I’m on vacay.
2. I don’t like the ACA. I don’t like the fact that we’ll still have people going bankrupt over disease or injury (copays and deductibles, and procedures that suddenly aren’t covered). We’ll still have horrible life expectancy compared with our industrialized neighbors. We’ll still have hospitals charging patients $20 for a box of Kleenex. We’ll still have insurance co’s paying their executives millions of dollars a year. And since we’ve tied insurance to employment, we’ve continued all the problems that we have when people are out of work. All those happy stories about people getting care yesterday could have happened under a Medicare For All system, and it would’ve been far cheaper. So now, all us liberal-to-lefty folks who think healthcare should be a human right are forced to defend Obamacare, warts and all. If you tried to force the ACA on people in rational countries (Sweden and The Netherlands come to mind), you’d have street protests and riots. This begs the question–is this stupid line in the sand being drawn by the Repubs a way of keeping the ACA from being improved on? Will we go down this road and in four years realize we should’a done Single Payer? And the Dems have important constituencies whose interests are best served by the ACA–is this a rearguard action to make sure that bulk purchases from Big Pharma and price controls for hospitals are never on the table?
3. Dammit– I was hoping Occupy Wall Street would be the ones to shut down this government. There are a great number of reasons this government needs to be shut down–the illegal wars, the lack of prosecution for same, the presidency and both houses of Congress looking the other way as some eight million manufacturing jobs were lost (largely offshored) and replaced by part-time gigs at Walmart and McDonalds, and the destruction of housing values and the looting of pensions by the 1%. Obama has let the statute of limitations run out on prosecuting the banksters for tearing a $22 Trillion dollar hole in the US economy–as I like to tell defenders of the financial interests, if the Gambino Crime Family had been at the center of the financial meltdown, you’d best believe the RICO INDICTMENTS would have fallen like rain. We have a huge deficit in large part because retail clerks and waiters don’t earn enough money to pay the taxes we need to cover the trillion-dollar military and disaster relief for century storms that are coming every couple years now. And the money that has come in since the Lehman meltdown has gone to the 1%–90% of income gains went to the top 10% and 60% went to the fabled 1%. The 90% split everything else. Crazy Tea party guys don’t deserve to pull this apart–they’re part of the problem. And so is the weak-kneed party that doesn’t speak up due to their own conflicts of interest.
People should be out in the streets. But we need to make clear that the Democrats are not our friends and Obamacare was not our choice. By creating this massive complicated system (instead of changing a few paragraphs in the Medicare act), Obama opened this thing up to sabotage from the first. And Medicare for All is a LOT easier to explain.
Update–protest at Federal Hall in Manhattan on Friday afternoon starting at 5:30. Busy?