End the silliness

When the word came down from the Supreme Court last week that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was being upheld, your reaction likely varied depending on your political persuasion and that is not a good thing.

For Democrats this was not only a surprise ruling and an unexpected victory – especially when Chief Justice John Roberts did not side with the conservative majority, as assumed — but a real validation that the political capital sacrificed to expand health care was not for naught. The Democratic party gets so few victories these days that this one had to taste extra sweet.

And while Democrats celebrated a victory, the Republican reaction was a tad more apocalyptic. Noted Constitutional scholar Donald Trump weighed in via Twitter with his distaste. Former half-term governor Sarah Palin was at her subtle best when she opined “Obama lies; freedom dies” and perhaps conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said it best when he wrote in 140 characters or less that, “This is the end of America as we know it. No exaggeration.”

One of the great mysteries about this whole debate has been how the extension of health care coverage to millions of uninsured Americans has been akin to the loss of freedom, but that’s just been one of the many head scratchers about a process that has given credence to the ludicrous idea of “death panels” and the belief that the universal health coverage of countries like Canada and the United Kingdom is one step away from the Soviet gulag. There’s been no better example of the overheated political rhetoric of the last few years and its destructive impact then this discussion over health care.

Health care coverage for all Americans should not be a partisan issue. There should be no Republican/Democratic divide here. It’s a question of morality, one of the greatest of our time. Are we the kind of country that takes care of our poor and our sick? Do we provide the kind of safety net that made this country the envy of the world? That’s what’s before us and the ACA has taken us one step closer.

It continues to be staggeringly ironic that Republicans have spent so much time fighting a law that is essentially a carbon copy of what they’ve been advocating for. Obamacare is really Romneycare based on what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts. And now the GOP is left with a presidential candidate speaking out against his own ideas as the party scrambles to coherently explain why everything that was a good idea when Mitt was governor (even the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation signed off on it) is now the end of American liberty.

The truth is the only thing the national Republicans have against this law is the fact that President Barack Obama’s name is on it. Watching the party’s leaders twist themselves into knots to oppose everything he supports, even when they’re Republican ideas, brings to mind the old Marx Brothers’ song “Whatever it is, I’m against it.” But this is no joke. People’s lives and health are at stake here.

It’s time to end the stupid partisan fighting over health care reform and work on making this law better. Even under the ACA millions of Americans are still left without coverage. It’s fair to say it doesn’t go far enough. So now we need to stop fighting and stop throwing money into the sinkhole that is the for-profit insurance industry and really reform health care. This act is a fine step, but it is only the first step. We need to see the full impact of this law and make it better where it can be improved.

That means giving all complaints fair hearing (especially valid ones about cost), but not indulging in silly hysteria.

For such a Republican dominated town, Greenwich has always been where the grown ups are. The overheated partisan howling typically doesn’t come here. So let’s set an example and stop talking about repealing and stop acting like the world is ending. Let’s start making sure our sick are cared for.

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