Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How good news becomes bad

    We live in confusing, uncertain times—so confusing and uncertain that something as simple as agreeing on what is good news and what is bad news seems irrecon-cilable when it comes to any issues involv-ing the federal government.
    Since the 1980s, the political cliché that government is the problem and not the solution to the problem has become widely accepted common wisdom. The cliché be-came embedded in public discourse even as government played an increasingly im-portant role in the lives of many citizens, particularly those less affluent.
    Now, in an unsurprising twist, the Tea Party is opining that whenever govern-ment is successful, something must be wrong. If public schools are engaging young people in programs like the Inter-national Baccalaureate or food gardens, the results must be illusory because public schools, it’s supposed, can’t do anything well. Social Security is going broke, except that it isn’t. Now, most troublesome to those who have made a career for the last five years of beating up the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare is doing well, be-yond even its supporters’ dreams.
    Obamacare opponents have been prom-ising bad news, including low enrollment by young people, unpaid premiums for new insurance policies bought through insurance exchanges, and lost coverage by insurance companies destroyed by this massive public program. The same oppo-nents are now struggling to explain away the unexpected and painful reality that the federal government in implementing this health insurance reform is capable of gen-erating significant positive outcomes. People, including young people, have signed up; premiums are affordable; and health care costs are below expectation. Like it or not, Obamacare is working out better than imagined.
    This is particularly bad news for the bizarre among us who have been unable to admit that for the last eight years, the same plan implemented by former Repub-lican Gov. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts and used successfully by the Swiss is working in the United States. What seems especially odd about the incessant predic-tions of health-reform disaster was that we knew, or should have known, that a pro-gram along the lines of the Affordable Care Act was likely to work.
    Federal programs that fail to actually fail pose a real problem for those who seek election success from the far right in the current world of nonstop campaigning. That is why none of the usual suspects, from talk radio hosts to Fox TV anchors to Tea Party candidates, will admit they have been wrong about Obamacare. They just change the subject.

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