Monday, September 16, 2013
A War of Messaging
Two minutes into the segment of “Morning Joe” I could tell that the words of President Obama angered Joe Scarborough. President Obama told George Stephanopoulos that the beltway media is about style points, and that he was more interested in the right policy. That message was for Joe Scarborough, Maureen Dowd, Andrea Mitchell and Peggy Noonan because they form the world’s perception through their own eyes. I can’t imagine any country not fearing the military might of United States; those five warships in the Mediterranean influence policy just by being there. Tom Friedman stunned the panel of “Meet the Press” when he reminded them that the United States did not have a thing to do with the successful turnover of government in South Africa; Nelson Mandela did. Barney Frank said that some of those on the panel were talking as if Syria was the 51st state.
Joe Scarborough thought he was going to win the Obamacare argument after reading some polls where 44% of Americans think that the Affordable Care Act is a bad thing. I believe the numbers because that same poll said that only 30% of Americans understand the healthcare law. Since 70% of the population doesn’t understand what the new healthcare law is all about and all they hear is mainly negative things supported by billions of dollars of pessimistic ads, the results are self-evident. The GOP knows once those subsidies start kicking in January, the game is over and the Affordable Care Act will be as popular as Medicare. It's funny how the questions get different results. A question about Obamacare will automatically poll badly while a question about the Affordable Care Act will get a lot of "I don't know."
The more Obamacare obsessed wing of the Republican Party thinks they have a winning hand. Their latest proposal is to delay the implementation of the individual mandate portion of the law until 2015 and attach it to the continuing resolution bill to fund the government until mid-December. Why would the Democrats agree to that? It’s the same rationale that the Republicans used by filibustering Social Security in 1936.
There’s no question that the Affordable Care Act will be difficult to implement because besides the Republicans, there’s the hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, private insurance companies and some doctors who love the status quo. For example, hospitals hate the penalties that will be imposed for their high rate of infection and patient readmission rates.
Obamacare is the new bogeyman for the right; it’s what keeps them up at night ,as they continue to try and come up with new gimmicks to get rid of the law. They think that healthcare is a privilege for those who work hard, and it’s not for those lazy poor people who failed to make it in a free-market economy. They are convinced that the government cannot do anything right, so a new entitlement is doomed to fail. They will not be convinced with evidence of bending the cost curve, or the efficiency of Medicare, Social Security and the VA.
Shutting down the government for a few days, by not passing a continuing resolution won’t hurt the economy as much as it would if we decided not to raise the debt limit. Not raising the debt limit would have a downward spiral effect on the world economy. A government shutdown will hurt the GOP in the 2014 elections; even though a lot of people think that we shouldn’t raise the debt limit without agreeing to more spending cuts. President Obama is adamant about not negotiating the debt limit because of the message it sends to our creditors. How would your creditors like it if they were on the list of the bills that might not be paid?
I think we’re slowly hitting reset button by moving away from the thinking that led to the policies of President Ronald Reagan. It’s a slow messy process, and you got to give credit to the Republicans and Frank Lutz for doing everything they can to win the messaging war at the expense of any pretense of governing.