Obama Cares

Image of President Barack Obama

Obamacare or Obama cares?

That’s more than linguistic playfulness now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, landmark legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.

For two years now, Republicans have disparaged the new health care act with mostly ideological accusations, rallying against the clichéd nomenclature of Obamacare just as they denigrated so-called Hillarycare in 1993. A name, add “care” and frighten people with stories of what will never happen, a workable strategy with a corporate media that has long abandoned truth in favor of the holy grail of supposed objectiveness.

But even Chief Justice John Roberts, known as an archconservative, apparently knew that the Republicans’ false claims and shoddy argumentation would damage his court’s reputation for at least a generation if he voted against Obamacare/Obama cares, and thus he cast the deciding vote to uphold it. Hold the broccoli, please.

And Obama does care, that much is true. He cares about the millions upon millions of Americans who are uninsured. He cares about people who lose everything they have because of an illness. He cares about fixing a broken health care system in what most people consider the richest country in the world. Who could argue otherwise? What else could be his motive?

The media has relentlessly parsed the court’s decision, focusing on the individual mandate that requires most everyone to have health insurance. That mandate now has to be considered a tax, but the fact remains that relatively few people will actually pay a tax or penalty or whatever you call it because of the legislation.

As Obama has pointed out repeatedly, if you have insurance the only thing that will happen is that your coverage will get better. If you can’t afford insurance, you will get help from the government to purchase it.

The competing theories about how the decision will affect the presidential election are simply that (1) the Republicans will be even more motivated to win in November or (2) Obama’s victory makes him invincible, but the truth lies between the two extremes. The rhetoric war, though, clearly favors the president at this point.

Obama cares, and he did something about it. Obamacare seems destined to become a term that becomes normalized and accepted in a positive way rather than a ghost story told by conservatives around the country’s campfire. Obama cares.

Does Gov. Mary Fallin care? Fallin and her fellow Republicans turned down a chance to create a state health insurance exchange as mandated by the law with the help of $54 million in federal money. They did so for purely ideological reasons and made a big deal out of it. The exchange will help the uninsured here get insurance.

Now the state has until November to set up an exchange or become part of a federal system. Ironically, the issue of federal control is the main argument Fallin and company have made against the new law. This is in a state that has some of the worst medical outcomes in the nation on a yearly basis. Let’s face it, when it comes to health care, Oklahoma doesn’t do it better. Any pretense otherwise is ludicrous.

Fallin will no doubt hope that Mitt Romney is elected president, and the U.S. Senate goes under Republican control next year, but even if that happens there’s no assurance that Obamacare will be repealed. Romney approved a similar plan for Massachusetts when he was governor there. Who among us hasn’t been disappointed by an unfulfilled campaign promise?

No matter what happens, history will show Obama cares.