Facts belie paean to Obamacare


I read Dr. Awachie’s recent opinion letter titled, “The ACA flop and filibuster,” with interest, and wish to offer a different perspective on a few of the points raised in his letter as well as address a larger issue.

Many of us who have followed the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) from its inception have heard it said that the Obamacare is a Republican creation, with the implicit question of why do Republicans now oppose that which they created.

The assertion that Obamacare is a Republican idea is only partially correct. It has never had widespread acceptance or advocacy by the Republican or conservative base, or even a majority of the U.S. population.

The first healthcare plan in this lineage was a 1989 paper authored by Dr. Stuart Butler of the Heritage Institute titled, “Affordable Health Care for All Americans.”

The Heritage Foundation is certainly an influential voice in conservative politics, and has admirers from and connections to the Republican Party, but to identify them as part of the Republican Party for purposes of linking them to the current Obamacare is incorrect.

Moreover, Dr. Stuart’s concepts and ideas laid out in his paper were vehemently rejected outright at the time by other Republican think tanks, most Republican politicians and despised by the grassroots Republicans.

Dr. Butler’s plan re-emerged a few years later during the healthcare debate colloquially known at the time as “Hillary Care.”

In 1993, Rhode Island Senator John Chaffee, a Republican, took many of Dr. Butler’s ideas and introduced them in a bill titled “The Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993.”

Introduced as S. 1770, this was the Republican response to President Bill Clinton’s healthcare plan, and had 19 Republican but only 2 Democrat sponsors.

Like President Clinton’s healthcare plan, it stalled and died after the conclusion of that congressional session.

Dr. Butler’s plan was widely criticized and never gained support in Republican and conservative circles.

A few years later, then-Gov Romney (who would later become a Republican presidential candidate and have to defend it with the very folks who nominated him) was approached by a member of Massachusetts Sen. Kennedy’s staff with a plan very much like that proposed by Dr. Butler and Sen. Chaffee.

Then-Gov Romney managed to get it passed and implemented in Massachusetts, and it now goes by the moniker “Romneycare.”

Like the earlier effort, the Republican establishment and conservative base rejected it as socialized medicine.

It has become a common refrain to assert that Obamacare is the “law of the land.” That oft-used phrase is used to imply that Obamacare is now an immutable and indelible law, and not subject to further challenge or judicial review.

Obamacare was hastily and poorly-drafted, making it subject to legal challenge or additional legislative action.

There are numerous current legal challenges to Obamacare, from the Oklahoma Attorney General’s lawsuit on the legality of individual mandate and the Pacific Legal Foundations challenge that Obamacare violates the Constitution because it violates the Origination Clause (which requires that all revenue bills originate in the U.S House of Representatives).

I note the irony that the case mentioned by Dr. Awachie serves as the legal basis for the Pacific Legal Foundation lawsuit.

Another interesting case that could erode or invalidate part of Obamacare is Hobby Lobby’s challenge to Obamacare’s provisions that require employers to provide emergency contraception.

All of these, along with the many other cases, are legitimate challenges to Obamacare, and I expect future ones as implementation of Obamacare moves forward.

Laws making slavery a lawful activity were once “the law of the land.” Those abominable, immoral and inhumane laws were rightfully overturned.

While Obamacare is not as reprehensible and vile as slavery laws, the concept that a law cannot be challenged or changed because it is “the law of the land” is, thankfully, not a viable concept in American jurisprudence.

According to the Federal Election Commission, 129,085,403 voters participated in the 2012 elections. Of those, 65,915796 (or 51.06 percent) voted for President Obama, and 60,933,500 (or 47.20 percent) voted for Governor Romney. The remaining 1.74 percent voted voted for various other candidates. An estimated 93 million voters (or 40 percent) of all registered voters did not vote during the 2012 election.

The results of the 2012 Congressional elections are equally telling. Enough voters cast votes for a Republican candidate to give them a 234 to 201 majority in the House of Representatives, a 30 – 19 majority in Governor’s seats, and control of 25 state legislatures (some did not hold elections in 2012). The Republicans did lose two seats to retain a 45-seat minority in the Senate.

I differ with Dr. Awachie’s conclusion in his letter that “… the minority party has … ignored the obvious facts from the previous election and sought to force its will on … ” the Senate and President.

While the Democrats do control the Presidency and the Senate, the Republicans control the House of Representatives. Each Representative speaks for about 700,000 constituents in each congressional district.

Phrases such as this seem to imply that these voters should have NO voice in government simply because their party is not the majority party in both chambers of Congress.

If the 2012 election results made Governor Romney President, and he tried to dismantle Obamacare, would it be reasonable to say that the Democrats would do exactly what the Republicans did in opposing it?

Even if the country is moving to the left, does that mean that those who don’t like the shift should silently accept it?

Should those who truly and deeply believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction not be allowed to express and advocate for their vision of what America could and should be?

The results of the last election clearly show there is a significant minority who want their elected officials to speak for their conservative values, beliefs and principles.

It is wrong to imply a minority should quietly accept the majority simply because it controls the executive branch, and one half of the legislative branch. To quote Dr. Awachie, “… that is not how a democracy works.”

To those who, like me, oppose Obamacare, I encourage you to contact your legislative officials to give them your views. Make your voice heard along with the millions who oppose Obamacare.

Support those who share your views and oppose those who don’t.

A republic requires participation.

Robert S. Black
Peachtree City, Ga.