Last weekend, I visited my family in Central Pennsylvania, an area that James Carville dismissively coined as "Pennsyltucky". Yeah, yeah, not my word, and sorry if it offends you, but it fits. Anyway, I went out with a group of friends and family to... wait for it... the Democratic Club. Pennsylvania has weird liquor laws that allow many not-for-profit organizations such as local Dem and GOP orgs to establish their own drinking & gaming "clubs" for fundraising purposes. Besides the horror that these clubs are exempt from no-smoking laws (el stinko), I got into a heated argument about Obamacare... with Democrats.
It started off with me coining a new phrase: "ObamaScare". The definition of ObamaScare? The pathological lies and disinformation being spread by opponents of the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to make the law a failure. I used as an example the website recently mentioned here on DKos that the California GOP lawmakers has used to deceive and discourage people from using their state marketplace to sign up for ACA coverage. And it continued with the merciless refusal of Republicans, including Pennsylvania's own soon-to-be-fired Governor Tom Corbett, to expand Medicaid under the ACA's quite generous rules that cover all costs of expansion for a decade and 90% thereafter. That refusal has a boomerang effect because hospitals will also be losing funds from the Feds that cover the costs of caring for the uninsured who can't pay for their hospital bills, which has in Georgia at least caused some hospitals to announce they are closing.
Conversation turned to the generations of "takers" who just keep taking from the government and never pay anything into the system. Of course, I said there may be anecdotal information to back up this theory, but if there was an convincing quantitative analysis that proved this point, Republicans (and conserva-dems) would be touting it left and right. Frankly, even Pres. Obama would be talking about it and trying to fix it if there was such a thing. But it doesn't exist. Please correct me if I am wrong. I even likened it to the death penalty, which in this heavily pro-life, Catholic area has some resonance. If 1% of the people on death row are innocent, should we have the death penalty? What if 10% of the people on death row are innocent? Should we still keep up with the killing? How is it any different than trying to keep the so-called "takers" from getting Medicaid? Should it be refused if only 10% of those eligible under the expansion are actual multi-generational takers, but 90% of those being helped are legitimately in need? What is the magic number at which it's OK to say no to those who legitimately need Medicaid in order to stop the takers from taking even more? The response? Utter silence. Maybe, just maybe, I pierced a tiny hole in the balloon of disinformation?
Oh, well, did you hear that they're giving these takers cell phones??? They can even text message people! What horrors! Yeah, well, it's awfully hard to get a job these days if they don't have a cell phone number or access to the internet. Again, silence... until one of the Pennsyltuckians admitted that he had talked to some folks that opened his eyes to the importance of cell phones being available for the low income who are trying to find work.
Is this progress? I don't know. It was not a fun conversation to have, especially in the middle of the Democratic Club with the picture of President Obama hanging prominently on the wall. But I hope that there are now some doubts in their minds from the corporatist and Republican messaging that is so powerful in that area of the country.