National Commentary

Obamacare’s Glorious Launch

nfbentonpicOctober 1, 2013 was a glorious day. Although some aspects of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, went into effect when it was signed into law in March 2010 – passing both houses of Congress and subsequently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court – on Oct. 1 came its biggest component. Everyone now has the ability to obtain health insurance, coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014, by signing up, comparing prices and levels of coverage, and obtaining an affordable policy, including the benefit of a government subsidy for lower income persons.

October 1 was a day that will be long remembered, like August 14, 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act, propelled by the first-ever woman member of a presidential cabinet, Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and like July 30, 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the act creating Medicare and Medicaid.

As of this Oct. 1, every American now has access to health care, a truly revolutionary development and something that no one thought possible, given the ferocity of the push-back by the nation’s wealthiest, Wall Street-based radical free market types, including the health provider industry. Similar ferocious opposition erupted when the Social Security and Medicare laws were signed, and even an old fashioned military coup was organized, but quashed, during FDR’s first year when he took the first steps to redress the impact of the Great Depression.

The current push-back rages, now taking the form of the shutdown of the federal government and some really ugly consequences if extended to a default on the national debt later this month. It has a “coup d’etat” quality to it.

There’s no doubt that the Tea Party component in the Congress, responsible for this shutdown and the threatened default, is the brainchild of anti-regulation, radical free market, powerful uber-wealthy interests.

The Tea Party was called into being in the immediate aftermath of President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009 in opposition to his stimulus measures to recover from the Great Recession. Its founding Wall Street backers created and financed, playing for popular support upon a combination of race-based sentiments against Obama and the economic impact of the Great Recession, a “grass tops” movement orchestrated by right-winger Dick Armey’s “Freedom Works” operation.

By acting as a radical phalanx within the Republican Party, though a minority it seized control of the GOP by carefully-orchestrated campaigns to unseat mainstream Republican lawmakers in key races across the land. They used those “lessons” to intimidate and bring the entire GOP leadership under its sway.

Frightened and teary-eyed House Majority Leader John Boehner is now shaking in his boots, afraid to bring the Senate’s “clean” vote to fund the government to a floor vote in the House. If he did, there would be enough non-Tea Party Republican votes to pass it.

So, it ultimately comes down to this: bullies like the Tea Party thugs in the House require for their success that fear and cowardice prevail in their wake. Thus far, it has.

Despite the disingenuous claims that they don’t want this government shutdown, the Tea Partiers in the Congress have been fully documented eagerly promising such a shutdown during their campaigns in 2010, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow exhibited in a news segment in the wee hours after major portions of the government, in fact, ground to a halt this week.

They’ve wanted this result, all along, used to force the president and Congressional Democrats to cave in on the implementation of the Affordable Health Care law. Only a complete capitulation by Obama and the Democrats could have prevented the shutdown, and given the zealous nature of the Tea Party and the resolve of its uber-rich backers, there is no reason to believe they won’t march ahead to trigger a U.S. default on Oct. 17. They take joy from torching Washington, wider impacts be damned.

It is important to recognize why the Tea Party faction refuses to compromise on any of these matters: Ultimately, they and their backers perceive themselves orchestrating a “coup d’etat,” a takeover of government by a violent trashing of American democratic institutions. It can happen here.