The Birth Control Pill Debate, Obamacare, and the Government Shutdown Showdown


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Anti-Obamacare ads

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Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be interviewing Lindsay Beyerstein about the ongoing battle over the genuinely empirical question: Is the pill dangerous? You can probably guess the answer, but stay tuned. Also, the health-care exchanges start tomorrow, which means the battle over Obamacare is reaching a fever pitch.

The Daily Show inevitably had the best comic take on the whole battle over Obamacare’s implementation.

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More ahead on what conservatives are really afraid of when it comes to health-care reform.

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Tomorrow is the big day, y’all. The health-care exchanges are opening up, and if you don’t have health insurance, I highly recommend you immediately go to healthcare.gov to find out what kind of plan you can get through the new systems. This is, of course, exactly what conservatives don’t want you to do. So much so, in fact, that the Koch brothers-funded group called Generation Opportunity is actually running ads that basically imply that going to the doctor is so unpleasant that it’s probably best not to get health insurance at all. One ad insinuates that a giant Uncle Sam will sexually assault a woman if she gets health insurance through Obamacare, One aimed at men is just as bad. The doctor is done with the fully clothed exam and then he finds out the patient got insured through Obamacare, which by the way is not something your doctor would probably know from your chart.

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Both ads appear to argue that invasive medical tests are only something you have to endure if you purchase insurance through the health-care exchange. This is a harmful message on two levels: One, it’s intended directly to discourage young people from getting health insurance. They may say only through Obamacare, but for most uninsured people, that’s the only realistic option. Two, this sort of thing stigmatizes and raises fear around basic, necessary medical testing, making it seem worse and less necessary than it is. This is all super irresponsible.

Of course, that’s just one part of the attempts to derail Obamacare. The big thing is obviously this budget showdown, where Republicans in the House are trying to use the threat of a government shutdown to force Obama and the Senate to defund Obamacare. Then you have Senator Ted Cruz issuing more threats of what he’s supposedly willing to do to keep the uninsured from getting insurance.

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Ted Cruz is living in a fantasyland. If he thinks that he can convince House Republicans to hold the government hostage in order to defund Obamacare and that this will somehow convince the voters that Harry Reid is to blame, he’s living in la la land. The polling shows most Americans don’t want to defund Obamacare and that they’re ready to blame the Republicans if the government shuts down. Holding the military hostage is desperation that has nothing to do with what the public actually wants, but is clearly just an attempt to do any and everything to stop Obamacare before its major provisions go into effect. But why are they so desperate? Ezra Klein, sub hosting for Chris Hayes at MSNBC, had a good explanation.

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The big battle is over young people. On the conservative side, you have the Koch brothers trying to discourage young people from signing up for health insurance through Obamacare. On the liberal side, you have Corey Hebert, a professor from LSU, going on MSNBC and making an impassioned case that young people really need to get into Obamacare as soon as the open enrollment starts on October 1.

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Why is so important about young people that their participation in this has become so contentious? Part of it is that they’re highly likely to be uninsured and eligible for the subsidies, so if they enroll in big numbers, that will show that it’s working already. But more important is that their enrollment will help the whole thing reach financial goals. A big part of Obamacare is the expectation that insurance premiums will stabilize or even go down. We have to have lots of relatively healthy people in the system, because if it’s all just sick people, premiums will go up. That’s one reason Medicare has so many financial problems and they’re always tinkering with it, in fact. Getting young people enrolled is good for them, but it will also help keep premiums low. That’s why the Koch brothers are trying to scare young people off, though there’s no reason to think their corny ads will be able to do that.

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insert interview

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Let’s be absolutely clear: There is no doubt that a government shutdown showdown is not actually a good idea, either in terms of policy or politics. I don’t have the time here to really get into the nitty-gritty of why so many conservatives think it’s a great idea to have high insurance premiums and millions of uninsured people, but on the politics thing, it’s clear that even a lot of Republicans are really not happy about the grandstanding and shutdown threats in an last-ditch attempt to kill Obamacare before the public realizes that they really like it. Rachel Maddow talked about some of the intra-party conflict.

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Indeed, Ted Cruz is the focal point of it, since he’s been all over the TV, trying to crusade endlessly about how he’d rather hold the military hostage than allow uninsured people to get health care. He even held a long speech on Tuesday that he pretended was a filibuster, but was in fact not one, because he was under the impression that the problem with politicians is they don’t do enough empty grandstanding. Naturally, this is creating some grumbling, as was discovered when a reporter asked him about the reaction to his antics during a press conference.

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Har har. I always admire the courage of people who sit in safe seats to try to force their entire party to take radical measure that you know for a fact are going to backfire and cause a lot of your own party members to suffer lost seats, bad press, and having to campaign harder if they do want to keep their seats. Way to be a team player, Ted Cruz. I’m sure that’s winning you a lot of friends on the Hill. Well, if not, it’s not like politicians have to worry about people liking them, do they? Perish the thought.

That there will be political consequences for this showdown is widely believed by roughly everyone, Democrat or Republican, that isn’t living completely in a fantasy bubble where you’ve convinced yourself the entire American public is comprised of loyal Fox News viewers. But even the people that live in that fantasy land don’t even buy into the conservative fantasy that they’re going to end Obamacare, according to a discussion of Wall Street Journal editors and writers on Fox News.

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But even Republicans who believe that this government shutdown showdown is a bad, bad idea seem to be worried about the obvious alternative, which is just letting Obamacare go into effect and stop acting like it’s the worst possible thing in the world to let the legislative system of our country work the way its supposed to. Karl Rove, for instance, has been wildly critical of these shutdown shenanigans, but even he thinks that Republicans should try to find some way to keep Obamacare from happening.

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So why is it so, so, so critical that the effects of Obamacare not be felt by the American people before a Republican President is in office? Can’t a Republican Congress and President repeal it if they want to, even if we did have universal health care for a couple of years before the election? What are they so worried about? Well, I’ll point to what Ezra Klein said in the first segment of this show: Karl Rove and the rest of the anti-Obamacare crew know one thing for certain. If Obamacare goes into effect, people are going to like it and it will become politically toxic to repeal it and take it away. But think about that for a minute. They’re trying to end something because they know that it will end up being exactly what people want. Isn’t the point of democracy to give people what they want? So why are anti-Obamacare people trying so hard to stop that from happening?

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, forced childbirth will magically result in you getting a better job edition. Or at least that seems to be Rush Limbaugh’s take in a recent rant where the four times married man once again got really angry at women for having sex.

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The notion is that women stupidly voted for “free abortions,” which are not government policy and were never promised, and somehow this has meant a crappy economy. Of course, the reality is, just like with the Great Depression, we have a president who has done a lot to stymie the negative effects of a massive recession but who, for political reasons, couldn’t embrace policies to actually fix it. So, like the Great Depression under FDR, it’s dragging on. Which means that those no co-pay contraception benefits are actually helping, and yeah, free abortions would help, too.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte