A Very Nice Article by Jim Tankersley About the Affordable Care Act and Tea-Party Land, with One Significant Flaw, with Bonus Whose Resistance Is Futile? Who Is Being Assimilated? Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Weblogging
Let me start by saying that I have enormous respect for Ezra Klein, whose work in creating and maintaining WonkBlog has, I would argue, made him the brightest spot and the greatest hero twenty-first century American journalism has seen.
And let me start by saying that I also have enormous respect for Jim Tankersley: a smart, honorable, and hard-working reporter who knows immense amounts about the American economy and about public policy, and who tries his best to inform his readers on both print and screen within the limits of the institutional role allotted him.
And let me say that his 1700 word piece on the economy and politics of Tea-Party hub Rome, Georgia can be and has been read with enormous profit by me and people like me.
Our text today is the last few paragraphs. And my cavil is that the article is not so good if you are less informed than I am--and only the professionally deranged are as well-informed as I am:
The next morning, one uninsured produce worker sorted apples into boxes for one of the last times. Donald Rizer, 58, wore a plaid shirt, blue jeans and gloves, and complained of the aching shoulder that he said keeps him from working more than 20 hours a week.
Soon he’ll be out of work.... Rizer did not have a new job lined up. He had come down to Rome after leaving a carpet factory several years ago. He needs shoulder surgery but can’t afford insurance. And because of a quirk in the health-care law, and the fact that Georgia declined to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income people like him, Rizer can’t qualify for a subsidy to buy coverage on his own.
When he visited the federal health insurance exchange Web site, he found the cheapest policy available to him cost $200 a month — one quarter of his current salary. “Obama,” he said, “he thinks that he’s helping things, but he ain’t.”
He fished out a bruised green apple and tossed it aside. Only a few boxes were left.
The phrases "because of a quirk in the health-care law, and the fact that Georgia declined to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income people like him, Rizer can’t qualify for a subsidy to buy coverage" are not adequate. What Tankersley means is:
The ACA provides subsidies for people with incomes more than 1/3 above the poverty level to afford insurance via the exchange-marketplace.
The ACA provides coverage for people with lower incomes via the expanded Medicaid program.
Chief Justice John Roberts and the other four right-wing justices broke this system by giving individual states the option not to accept the federal money to pay for the expansion of Medicaid.
This was a lawless and unforeseen action: no precedent for it in previous court decisions and no warrant for it in the constitution.
Because it was a lawless and unforeseen action, it had never struck the minds of anybody drafting the ACA that the John Roberts, C.J., and his Four Horsemen of the Constitution-in-Exile would do such a thing.
Thus people with incomes less than 1 1/3 times the poverty level are left high and dry: since they are supposed to be covered by expanded Medicaid, there is no language in the ACA allowing them to claim subsidies.
If Roberts, C.J., had been a public-spirited an intelligent man, he would have realized that if he was going to rewrite the ACA to break its Medicaid expansion provision, he also needed to rewrite the exchange subsidy provision to provide people with incomes less than 1 1/3 times the poverty level with access to subsidies.
Roberts, C.J., did not do this.
Perhaps Roberts simply wanted to harm people with incomes lower than 1 1/3 times poverty who lived in states that would pick up the ball not to expand Medicaid he had given them and run with it, on the theory that creating an aggrieved class for whom the ACA is clearly not working would redound to the political benefit of the Republican Party.
Perhaps Roberts did not understand what he was doing.
In any event, Roberts rewrote the ACA from the bunch--and so left people with incomes like Donald Rizen's in red states with governors and legislatures who fear the Tea Party out in the cold. All of numbers (1) through (11) are inside Tankersley's "quirk in the health-care law". I know that that is what is inside Tankersley's "quirk in the health-care law". But how many of Tankersley's readers will know that?
The state of Georgia did, indeed--in spite of the protests of doctors and hospitals that want Medicaid expansion so they don't have to keep playing the shell-game of cost-shifting in order to raise the resources to cover the treatment of the uninsured--did indeed refuse to expand Medicaid.
And that is how the Governor Nathan Deal, the legislature of Georgia, John Roberts, C.J., and the Four Horsemen of the Constitution-in-Exile casually #@#&^ed Donald Rizen, a fifty-something with a bad shoulder, and many other Americans as well. All of numbers (1) through (13) are inside Tankersley's "quirk in the health-care law, and the fact that Georgia declined to expand Medicaid". I know that's what those clauses in Tankersley's article are really saying. But how many of Tankersley's readers will know?
And then comes the end of Tankersley's article: "When he visited the federal health insurance exchange Web site, he found the cheapest policy available to him cost $200 a month — one quarter of his current salary. 'Obama', he said, 'he thinks that he’s helping things, but he ain’t'. He fished out a bruised green apple and tossed it aside. Only a few boxes were left." Could there be a crueler irony? The original ACA--the one that Pelosi and Reid passed and that Obama signed--provides Donald Rizen with health-insurance coverage (Medicaid, admittedly, but coverage) for free. It is Republicans John Roberts, Nathan Deal, the legislature, and the Four Horsemen who have casually #@#&^ed him. But who does he blame? He blames Barack Obama.
Tankersley's piece appears under the aegis of Ezra Klein's Wonkblog: the space inside the Washington Post website that is presided over by Ezra Klein and that is supposed to be "bloggy".
If Tankersley's article were a real weblog post, it would have a whole bunch of (1) through (14) above in the text and linked to--rather than simply alluded to via the word "quirk", with the reader left to do th work of reading between the lines to pick up the cruel irony of Donald Rizen's thinking that it is Barack Obama who is not being helpful here.
If, say, Ezra Klein had been writing this article in the rhetorical style he worked in before he went to the Washington Post, the article would have ended with three antepenultimate, penultimate, and ultimate paragraphs that were long, cruel, and biting dissections of
The false consciousness of the Tea Party in rural Georgia, about how their Fear of the Black President keeps people like Donald Rizen voting for politicians like Nathan Deal and the Republican legislators of Georgia who work hard to #@#&^ them over, and for politicians like Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush who appoint Supreme Court justices like Roberts, C.J., and the Four Horsemen who #@#&^ them over.
The immorality of a Republican Party that #@#& people like Donald Rizen over and then lies to them about what they are doing and what the Democrats are doing.
The pathetic nature of a press corps that does not connect the dots and explain what is really going on here.
All three of those closing paragraphs are missing.
The hope, when Ezra Klein moved over to the Washington Post, was that his style of speaking truth to the audience whether or not it pleased the Grahams and their friends and assuming that the audience wanted to learn more rather than have issues dumbed down would be the Borg, and would assimilate the Washington Post, and so it would no longer be the great embarrassment to journalism, the nation, and the world that it has been for a generation.
The fear was that the assimilation would go the other way.
How's it working? Whose resistance is futile? It hangs in the balance...