Let’s be crystal clear: the Republicans in Congress hate Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act. Well, most of them hate most of it. Well, maybe there are a few good parts, but overall, they truly hate Obamacare; after all, they voted to repeal it 60 times. Then along comes the unpredictable Donald Trump and talks about a program that would have to be single-payer to be as good as he describes. Of course, he is not going to give details about his program until Tom Price, his Health and Human Services nominee, is confirmed. One thing we know about Representative Tom Price: he really, truly, honestly hates Obamacare, root and branch, down to the dots on the pages of the statute. In fact, this orthopedic surgeon has been the GOP point person on its repeal. It’s hard to see how he is going to be the architect of a health program that, we have been promised, is going to be cheaper, more comprehensive, in short, all-around better than the Affordable Care Act.
Just to show that no one hates Obamacare more than he does, Trump made sure that his first
executive order, signed just hours after he took the oath of office, expressed his opposition to the ACA. Analysts are still discussing the meaning of the order. One thing seems to be clear: the order grants the power to Federal agencies to waive, exempt or delay provisions of the law that would impose costs on states or individuals. But does this mean
that the individual mandate, requiring people to get health insurance or be fined, can be effectively ended? It’s not clear. The individual mandate has brought millions of uninsured healthy people into the insurance pools. This influx has made possible the insurance mechanism that allows coverage of persons with pre-existing conditions and that requires charging the same premiums for men and women. Without the mandate and without raising premiums, the mechanism collapses: insurance companies would have to absorb unacceptable losses or withdraw from the health insurance markets. Probably the coverage of insured people is safe in 2017 because the insurance companies have already determined the policy terms for this year, but there could be a wholesale collapse of the markets in 2018. Insurance companies like to get as close to certainty as mathematics makes possible; policy muddles make this impossible.
In the midst of this confusion, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last week released a study of the effect of the repeal of the ACA. Had the law been repealed effective January 1, 2016, the CBO estimates that 19 million people would have been added
to the 29 million still uninsured under the ACA, for a total 48 million uninsured. In a population of 271 million nonelderly people, the current uninsured rate of about 11% would rise to an uninsured rate of about 18%. Bad as they are, these are only statistics. Translate 18% into the millions of human lives, and you will see the heath care catastrophe
that looms before us.
Senators Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have called for rallies throughout the country to protest Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Called “Our First Stand” to suggest that these rallies are only the beginning of resistance to efforts to eliminate Federal health care for more than 20 million people and to butcher Medicare and Social Security, the rallies are remarkable for their leadership beyond the left of the Democratic Party. The protest gatherings will be held on Sunday, January 15th, and you can locate a nearby rally on www.berniesanders.com. A live streaming of Sanders’ speech will be broadcast on Sunday afternoon, and if you can’t get to a rally, you can register for Bernie’s speech at www.ourrevolution.com.
No retreat, no compromise, no surrender!
The National Committee of Social Democrats USA has issued the following statement:
Social Democrats USA joins working people throughout the United States in urging the Senate
to reject the nomination of fast-food executive Andrew Puzder to be Secretary of Labor. We urge members, supporters, and friends to sign the AFL-CIO petition against his confirmation.
The petition can be found at www.aflcionow.org.
The Secretary of Labor is charged with oversight of measures to improve wages and working conditions and with enforcing labor laws, but Puzder is, in the words of AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka, “a man whose business record is defined by fighting against working people.” Puzder has been a strong opponent of increasing the Federal minimum wage, now set at a pitiful $7.25 per hour, barely over the Federal poverty standard for a single person. As for the possibility that he would be an effective enforcer of the labor laws, it is worth noting that Puzder’s fast-food chain has a history of cheating workers of their wages.
Toward the end of his term of office, President Obama sought to improve workers’ conditions by issuing Executive Orders. One required Federal contractors to grant up to seven days per year of paid sick leave. This order is not likely to survive under Puzder. Another increased the eligibility to receive overtime pay of workers earning up to $47,476, and this measure is now tied up in the Texas courts. Puzder can kill this order by simply not appealing the lower court decision.
Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor would be a disaster for American working families, and we urge the Senate to reject his nomination for that office.
For the last several decades neoliberal Democrats and conservative Republicans have greeted proposals to help working families as “class legislation.” Throughout this time a very small part of the population has taken most of the productivity gains, unions have been all but destroyed, and working families have found it increasingly difficult to meet the costs of health care and education. This has been class war- a deliberate war against the working class.
We have come to an acute crisis in this war, when the conservatives have captured the three branches of the Federal government. Conservatives now have the power to destroy or drastically modify many of the social programs that began with the New Deal. We have to fight back, and a major weapon for us is to spread information about the costs to working families of the conservative attacks. In the months ahead Socialist Currents will publish a series of articles
about the right-wing attempts to destroy what is left of the safety net in America under the overall title “The Class War.”
No retreat, no compromise, no surrender!
Senators Warren and Schumer will discuss the Senate Democrats’ strategy to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in a teleconference tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. The call-in number
is 855-808-5137, followed by the PIN 113043#. The call is limited to 5,000 participants, so promptness is essential.
This teleconference is part of the efforts of Senators Sanders, Warren and Schumer to rally nationwide opposition to the Republican priority of repealing the ACA.