August 1, 2017

A few days ago, Stephanie Ruhle interviewed Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), co-chairs of the House "Problem Solvers" caucus, and questioned them "lightning round" style on their plans to write a healthcare bill to fix some problems with Obamacare:

Cutting Medicaid Expansion Funding: Not on the table.

Shore up Exchanges: Yes.

Maternity Care as Essential Benefit: Yes

Eliminating Individual Mandate: Not on the table.

Watching this reminded me of the 2012 Stephen Spielberg / Daniel Day Lewis movie "Lincoln." The scene where Alexander Stephens (Jackie Earle Haley) is discussing with Lincoln the re-entry of Confederate States to the Union. Lincoln wants to reunite the Union as quickly as possible, but Stephens's conditions are ridiculous.

STEPHENS: Let me be blunt. Will the Southern States resume their former position in the United States in time to block ratification of the 13th Amendment?

In other words, we want to rejoin the Union so we can reinstate SLAVERY. Lincoln doesn't have any good news for Stephens. Slavery is over. And if you haven't figured that out after five years of war that this war was about slavery and you lost and you don't ever get to have slavery ever, ever again, you're out of your mind. Please catch up.

The Republicans have lost their seven-year war on Obamacare. The individual mandate stays. Unprejudiced insurance policies for those with pre-existing conditions? Stays. Medicaid expansion? Off the table. More money to make the Obamacare exchanges stable? Yes. And you don't get to use the word slavery repeal anymore.

Lincoln had to point out to Alexander Stephens that The Civil War was his compromise position. And now that the North won that war, there would be no slavery, and in fact, the North would indeed dictate to the South how the former slaves would be treated.

Obamacare was our compromise position. The next step is universal coverage with even more Federal government intervention in the health care universe. There will be battles over that, even amongst liberals. I am personally against a single payer system because it leaves out contributions from wealthy corporations for their employees, and I have full confidence that corporations they will successfully avoid taxation. Allowing a public option for corporations to purchase Medicare for each employee ensures a stronger funding stream for healthcare.

But repeal is off the table. You Republicans do not get to erase the signature legislative achievement of the first Black President. And thank you very much for labelling it "Obamacare" as a smear. The name stuck, healthcare is now seen as a national right by a majority of Americans. And you will have to adjust to this new map or perish as a political party.

Of course, my analogy between Obamacare and "Lincoln" falls apart when you remember just how stubborn those in the former Confederacy were, and how far they were willing to go to destroy racial equality once the North lost interest in punishing them.

Or...maybe the analogy holds up perfectly.

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