If you like your doctor and you like your plan, will you be able to keep them after the Apocalypse?
As if a century of Americans striving for reform and a full year of debating the particulars of Obama’s healthcare plan in Congress weren’t epic enough, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) claimed a day before the final House vote that the bill would destroy America and bring about “Armageddon.”
I have my money on hyperbolic metaphor, myself. But in light of two eerie statistics — an oft-cited 1997 Associated Press poll finding that 24 percent of American Christians believe that the events depicted in the Book of Revelations will occur in their lifetime and a new Harris poll finding that 24 percent of Republicans believe President Barack Obama is the Antichrist — you can never be too sure.
When Tea Partiers express their frustration with Democrats, on the other hand, they tend to use language much less open to interpretation. In the days leading up to the vote, three black congressmen were reportedly called “nigger,” a Hispanic congressman was called a “wetback” and an openly gay congressman was called a “faggot” by Tea Party protesters standing outside the Capitol.
After the bill passed — with zero Republican votes — some right wingers resorted to smashing the office windows of various Democratic congressmen and sending anonymous death threats.
One of them, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), called these threats “domestic terrorism.”
Yet Glenn Beck defended, or at least empathized with, the violence. In classic blame-the-victim fashion, he said: “I can guarantee you they walked out and said, ‘What the hell do you have to do to these people to get them to kill us?’ I swear to you!”
This sort of poisoned logic parallels that of the psychopathic Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs who, after shooting a bunch of bankers for triggering an alarm, rationalizes: “If they hadn’t done what I told ’em not to do, they’d still be alive.”
After the bill passed, instead of distancing themselves from the Tea Partiers, the GOP vowed to run on a platform that blatantly caters to them: i.e., repealing the bill.
Obama’s health care reform is not the single-payer Canadian model. Nor is it the two-tiered French model. And it certainly isn’t a government takeover of one-sixth of the economy.
It’s the same private, employer-based system that America has always had.
Only now, having insurance is largely mandatory and 32 million Americans will be insured who previously were not. Also, insurance companies are subject to regulations which prevent them from refusing coverage or suddenly dropping coverage when someone gets sick, and which limit their ability to hike premiums.
It is, as many have pointed out, nearly identical to the reforms Mitt Romney, the favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, helped push through in Massachusetts back in 2006.
Yet Republicans insist that Obama’s bill will bankrupt America and, through rationing, lower the overall quality of care.
That seems like a valid concern, doesn’t it? As Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) posits, “You cannot expect to expand coverage to millions of individuals and to curb costs at the same time.” That’s just common sense.
Except there is nothing common about common sense, as Voltaire says.
And sometimes shit ain’t what it seems, as Drake says.
If you draw your conclusion from empirical data — as opposed to, say, goin’ with yer gut — you will find that countries with universal health care invariably spend less and provide superior coverage.
For example, the World Health Organization rates France’s universal health care system as the best in the world, costing 10 percent of the country’s GDP. The United States comes in 37th at 16 percent of GDP.
Intuitively speaking, Obama’s claim that his health care reform will lower costs for families and businesses and reduce the national deficit by $1 trillion over the next two decades may seem too good to be true. Mathematically speaking, however, it adds up.
Okay, okay: facts be damned. At least the GOP is reflecting the anger of the American people, right?
Well, let’s consult the statistics.
According to the most recent Gallup Poll, 52 percent of Americans feel positively about the bill — a number expected to continue to rise in the coming days. Then there are 10 percent who have no opinion about the bill and 8 percent who, in contrast to Republicans, feel that the health care system doesn’t need to be reformed.
That leaves 31 percent of voters who have negative feelings about the bill. A far cry from a majority.
Take away the objections from the left, who wanted a more Canadian-style plan, and the opposition gets even smaller.
And of whatever fraction is left, about 13 percent of it is the Tea Party.
While Fox News has portrayed the movement as a group of “everyday Americans” who felt inspired to get politically involved, a newly published Quinnipac poll about the movement sheds light on who exactly Tea Partiers are, and how they differ from “everyday Americans.”
For one, they are less educated than the average American. For another, they are nearly all white.
I’d venture to guess that if you made a Venn diagram of the 24 percent of Americans who think the world is going to end in their lifetime and the 24 percent of Republicans who suspect Obama might be the Antichrist, you would find a great deal of the Tea Party located in the overlap.
I guess we’ll find out in congressional elections in the fall just how big the Tea Party-Republican coalition really is.
That is, of course, barring impending armageddon.
Cody Gault is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at email@example.com. Stakes Is High appears alternate Fridays this semester.