Obamacare is not “Toast.”

“Obamacare is toast,” read one tweet, reflecting the hive-mind-consensus election night. Two months later, the Affordable Care Act may indeed be headed for destruction. I’m betting not.

This is an odd political moment. The range of plausible outcomes ranges from 20 million people losing their health insurance all the way to ACA surviving surprisingly intact. The only solid prediction I will give is that there will be a $346 billion tax-cut for Americans with incomes exceeding $200,000 per year….

More here, by me at healthinsurance.org.

We’re on a scary walk over thin ice.

Irrelevant artistic object

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

7 thoughts on “Obamacare is not “Toast.””

  1. What's the origin of the phrase? Many people prefer their bread half-charred and crunchy. There is a large market in devices to meet the craving.

    The artistic object may be a Chinese tea lion. If so, there is a far from irrelevant little poem by Bertold Brecht.

    PS: I’ve found it.

    Auf einen chinesischen Theewurzellöwen
    Die Schlechten fürchten deine Klaue.
    Die Guten freuen sich deiner Grazie.
    Hörte ich gern
    Von meinem Vers.

    Translation by me:

    On a Chinese Tea Root Lion
    The wicked fear your claws.
    The good delight in your gracefulness.
    I’d like to hear the same
    Of my verse.

    I hearby nominate Harold’s fierce little lion (?) for official mascot of the RBC blog.

    1. According to the OED, it harks all the way back to 1985, with the film Ghostbusters. The crew is about to blast a demon, and Bill Murray's character (Murray ad-libbing) says, "This chick is toast." The phrase, however, doesn't quite spring full-blown from the head of Murray. The line in the script was "I'm gonna turn this guy into toast," with a much clearer connection between "a food item charred by fire" and "something destroyed by blasters designed to neutralize supernatural threats."

      But what is a Chinese tea lion (or root tea lion)? I tried Google, but it's not helping with the identity of the wonderful creature represented by the art object.

        1. Thank you. I had no trouble finding the verse. (I did get "root" and "tea" in the wrong order in my question–my apologies.) However, that doesn't tell me what a "tea lion" is. Is it, for example, a representation of a known mythological or legendary creature? Is it an originally functional object that was, for whatever reason, usually in the shape of a lion?

          I apologize for being so dense, but I really am quite taken with the picture. (It reminds me of a couple of terriers I have known. Except of course the lion looks substantially more laid back.)

  2. What is your interpretation of yesterday's Executive Order? It sounds as if it is removing the individual mandate, but it takes your expertise to make sense of it.

  3. You make a good case as to why, in a normal, fact-based world, the ACA might survive with most of its benefits intact. Trump, Ryan, Pence and Price do not live in a fact-based world. Left to their own devices, I think they'd kill Obamacare and say the law imploded on its own. Ryan is certainly setting up that argument.

    In addition, Trump prefers lying to telling the truth, even when the truth is helpful or benign. Think of the Trump steaks he displayed earlier in the year long after Trump Steaks was a defunct scam, or the ridiculous photo of him writing his inauguration speech, or the stacks of "documents" at his press conference. None of these lies was the least bit necessary, and each was transparently false. If he wanted to lie about writing the speech, he still could have sat a real desk in a real office and shown a pad that he was actually writing on (even if it was "Putin [hearts] Trump" over and over again). Who knows why he felt the need to say that Trump Steaks was still in business, but he didn't have to leave the beef in Bush Brothers packaging to make the lie extra-obvious. And, if he wanted to display stacks of phony documents at the presser, he could have had his law firm put a bunch of to-be-shredded documents with legalese and roman numerals and sub-paragraphs in stacks of manila folders. (Come to think of it, I've got stacks of stuff like that in my garage!)

    Trump lies because his most ardent supporters hate the press, Dems and "elites" (meaning "critical thinkers" not plutocrats) much more than they love him, and he fears, probably rightly, that if he's not making the right folks angry he risks losing fans. (Don't the heels in reality TV and pro wrestling do the same thing?) And he lies because it makes him master of reality, destroying the possibility of a shared consensus about even the most mundane things. He's only been at this for two years, but we already live in a world that we wouldn't believe if we were reading about it. Heck, I don't believe it, yet it's happening right in front of our eyes.

    Now I can see clearly why manipulating reality is such a big part of the authoritarian playbook. It's not just to provide a pretext for stifling opposition, but to instill fear in everyone, friend and foe alike, so that no matter who you are or what you do, you can still be jailed or worse on a whim. If the first rule of Fight Club is that you don't talk about Fight Club, the first rule of authoritarian regimes is that it's useless at best, and deadly at worst, to talk about anything.

    I could be wrong about the ACA, and I hope I am, but I don't think I'm wrong about Trump's methods.

  4. I think you do not understand the plan.

    1. Repeal Obamacare.
    2. Blame the resulting chaos on problems left over from its deficiencies, rather than on their own failure to do anything reasonable.
    3. Get a big tax cut for cabinet members and their friends.

    It's a three-for-one.

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