Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Daniels Rant

So I awake this morning to find that a Facebook friend has posted a 20-paragraph Charlie Daniels rant to my timeline, mostly about Obamacare. (not linking to it, but you can find it on Charlie’s FB page, where the most recent comment reads “Daniels/Nugent 2016!”) Since he took the trouble to do this (instead of posting it to his own timeline and hoping I'd read it), I have to assume he’s interested in my reply. So let's have a respectful exchange of views. Oh, and since Daniels took 20 paragraphs, this may take some time.

The first paragraph is actually one long formidable sentence. Aside from the violent imagery at the end, it boils down to the monstrosity of the less-than-sterling rollout of Obamacare. So yes, the right wing gets some bragging rights here: It's a slow website. If the website gets fixed, people will quickly forget about it, and if not, not. Moreover, the latest estimates show that roughly 3% of the public will end up paying higher premiums, though they will also be getting better coverage. When the president said people who liked their insurance could keep it, it appears he underestimated how many people really like crappy health insurance. Another point to the critics.
But the part I like best is the speculation that “even the most arrogant administration in history would be embarrassed by such a thing.” We already have a test case on this: the Bush Administration's rollout of its health care reform, Medicare Part D, complete with major website glitches. They may have been embarrassed, but they simply rolled up their sleeves and got back to trying to make it work. The interesting part is this: most Democrats passionately opposed the scheme (because it featured huge handouts to pharmaceutical companies, increased costs for seniors in the "donut hole," and, unlike Obamacare, was not paid for). But instead of having a hissy fit and shutting down the government, the Democrats in Congress decided that Medicare D was the law, and worked with the White House to help implement it.
Oh and by the way: Obamacare rolls back Bush's subsidies to Big Pharma and closes the donut hole.
So, Mr Daniels goes on to complain about the "fiscal monster" that gnaws at the vitals of future generations. This is pretty rich. Not only did President Bush put Medicare D on the credit card, he also passed along the costs of two major wars. Then he crashed the global economy, which, among other things, jacked up the price of the government safety net for the millions of newly unemployed. And meanwhile, Obama has cut in half the size of the deficit he inherited from W - and Obamacare is not only paid for, it reduces the deficit.
Paragraphs 3 and 4 write off 40% of the American public, down a bit from Mitt Romney's very successful "piss off 47% of the voters" strategy. Mr. Daniels is of the opinion that "entitlement checks" are about to stop being issued. Well, they would have if the GOP has forced a default last month, but that's a different story. Social Security is solvent through the 2030s and can be fixed with minor tweaks. Medicare spending is the main driver of future costs, but if the Republicans have a better idea than Obamacare for reining in those costs, they're keeping it a pretty big secret.
Paragraph 5 is a complaint about government bureaucrats. Previously we had health insurance company bureaucrats telling people that could not have any insurance if they had pre-existing conditions, and that if they got really sick they'd either be kicked off insurance or have caps imposed so that their costs would go through the roof. Now the government bureaucrats say that's not allowed. Apparently this is tyranny.
Paragraphs 6 through 11 constitute a potpourri of complaints unrelated to Obamacare, including the IRS, Solyndra and Benghazi scandals that worked so well in the last election. Other than to say I'd be happy to compare Obama's record on embassy attacks to George Bush's, I think we can move on.
Paragraphs 12 through 14 express the writer's disenchantment with both political parties. I think I speak for everyone on the left when I say that if Tea Party sympathizers want to break the Republican Party in two and start their own, they are more than welcome to do so.
Mr. Daniels concludes by yearning for a God-fearing person (who does not hail from a coastal community) to wield a sword and helmet and cleanse our nation. Let us assume for the moment that this is not a call for violent insurrection. All I can say is that if you can name a single such person, acceptable to the Tea Party, who has the remotest chance of coming anywhere near 270 electoral votes in the 2016 presidential election, I am all ears.

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