I will take Claire McCaskill at her word that she is not skipping the Democratic National Convention because she is afraid to cavort with Mr. Obamacare himself and other Democrats who don’t enjoy overwhelming popularity here in Missouri.
She told Morning Joe:
I’ve never gone when I’ve had a contested race. You’ve got to say to people at home, which is more important: Going to a place with a bunch of party honchos and having cocktail parties, or being at home talking to them? So this has never been a hard call for me. Everybody is trying to make this a big deal and narrative. It’s just stupid.
All of the chatter about McCaskill’s reasons for not going to North Carolina later this summer, along with the expectation that the Supremes will rule on the Affordable Care Act tomorrow, has me wondering just why it is that here in Missouri, as elsewhere, the concept of “ObamaCare” is relatively unpopular, even while its constituent parts are not. My conclusion is that such dissonance is attributable to a failure to properly—and constantly—educate an inattentive public.
Which, of course, made me wonder, for instance, what Ms. McCaskill has said about the ACA and how she has tried to educate Missourians on the virtues of the law.
Well, she did make an effort to do so in March, sort of. Here is how TPM began a story about it:
Grilled about her support for the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) told a home state radio interviewer that the law’s core structure is “exactly” like the House GOP Medicare privatization plan that conservatives support and liberals detest.
Hmm. That’s not exactly a good way of selling ObamaCare to liberals, now is it? She went on:
“The irony of this situation is that these are private insurance companies people will shop to buy their insurance. It’s not the government,” she told KMOX of St. Louis on Wednesday. “It’s exactly what Paul Ryan wants to do for Medicare.”
“It’s subsidized by the government — premium subsidies — which is exactly, this is the irony,” continued McCaskill, who faces a tough reelection battle this fall. “You think what Paul Ryan wants to do for seniors, you think it’s terrific. But when we want to provide private health insurance for people who don’t have insurance with subsidies from the government, you think it’s terrible.”
Her point here is, of course, unassailable. There is a lot of Republican hypocrisy associated with the debate over health care reform, particularly since almost the entire scheme that is now called ObamaCare is made up of ideas that once were dreamed up in the minds of right-wingers.
But that doesn’t let Claire off the hook, in terms of her responsibility to educate folks about the law. I looked on her campaign website and I found the following under “Healthcare“:
Claire has fought for expanded health insurance for all Missourians, from children to seniors. In her first term, Claire helped protect children with pre-existing conditions from being refused insurance and saved seniors from paying too much for prescription drugs by helping to close the Medicare Part D “donut hole.” Claire strongly believes that affordable health care is necessary in a successful economy and will continue to fight to make sure all Missourians have access to it, while also fighting to ensure those who chose not to be insured don’t pass along their medical costs to other Missourians.
This paragraph constitutes a summary of the details that follow on the page, but what we see here is essentially an explanation of the Affordable Care Act, of ObamaCare, but without the name attached. Now, while it is understandable that she would want to stay away from terms that Republicans and their moneyed funders have tainted via their propaganda campaign against “ObamaCare” and the ACA, what McCaskill is doing is essentially furthering the public’s misunderstanding of what is the health care reform law that goes by those names.
I can’t help but wonder what public opinion about the ACA might be today, if folks like McCaskill would not only consistently tout the parts of the law that people like, but aggressively defend the idea behind the one part they don’t like, the dreaded mandate.
Something like the following would be in order, coming from the moderate Missouri Democrat who voted for the ACA and who gets constantly attacked for doing so:
You’re damned right I voted for ObamaCare. And I’m proud of that vote. Hell, I wish they’d call it ClaireCare, so proud I am to have voted for it.
You know why?
Because it helps protect Missourians with pre-existing conditions from getting screwed by insurance companies;
Because it protects Missourians who get sick from getting booted off the insurance they had before they got sick;
Because it provides insurance for Missourians who can’t afford it and who would otherwise go without it and get sick and die or who would end up in an emergency room with a horrible and horribly expensive disease that we’d all end up paying for;
Because it allows about 40,000 Missouri kids to stay on their parents insurance until they are 26;
Because it has already “saved 111,815 Missouri seniors on Medicare an average of $627 per person on their prescription drugs by closing the Medicare Part D ‘donut hole‘” (quote from her website);
And because it has already “provided 431,945 Missouri women with free mammograms, bone density scans, and cervical cancer screenings with no co-pay” (quote from her website);
As I said, you’re damned right I voted for what you derisively try to call “ObamaCare,” and I couldn’t be prouder. Tell me, my critics, which one of the above “becauses” would you like to repeal? Huh?
And I’m even proud of the fact that I voted for the hated mandate because it was at least an attempt to get folks to stop gaming the system and help pay their own way. Aren’t you tired of some people trying to get something for nothing?
Any bleeping questions?