Obamacare started out as Universal Health Care, morphed into Health Care Reform and ended up as Health Insurance Reform but nonetheless, it passed through Congress and was signed into law by President Barrack Obama as the Affordable Care Act.
Hence, it’s commonly referred to as Obamacare and about half of us love it and about half of us hate it if you can put any faith in polls.
On the way to the President’s desk, we got to watch legislation being made. It’s often said one would not eat sausage if they had ever seen how it was made. The whole road to Obamacare lends some credence to the saying.
To me, it was simply déjà vu all over again. Trust me, we are going to love Obamacare if it is viewed in historical perspective.
My grandfather was a Republican state legislator when I was born in 1936 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was pushing Social Security as part of his New Deal. He got it passed and signed it into law when I was less than three months old.
I remember over my younger years how my grandfather and his Republican cohorts despised Roosevelt and Social Security.
In the end, though, my father paid a few quarters of Social Security taxes for my grandfather when my grandfather owned a small interest in my father’s insurance agency as my grandfather approached age 65.
My grandfather lived to be 96 and collected a substantially larger amount in Social Security payments in his retirement than he paid in Social Security taxes. And I never remember him complaining about getting that check every month.
In the beginning, Social Security was a rather simple program of collecting some rather minimum taxes from people in order to put them away for their lower-income producing years in retirement.
Our Social Security numbers were not to be used for any other purpose but over the years the taxes increased and our Social Security numbers became like tattoos in a racehorse’s upper lip – our main means of identification.
The Social Security laws have been changed so much that I doubt if my grandfather would even recognize those on the books today as the ones he so strongly opposed in 1936.
And then came Medicare in 1965. By then I was a working journalist and covered a lot of the sausage-making of the Medicare experience. Just like in 1936 a lot of the country was opposed to Medicare referring to it as socialized medicine and a curse on society.
It brought about the great debates about guns and butter. Could we afford both? In the end, Congress decided we could. Medicare went on the books and the Vietnam War went on endlessly.
Personally, I felt the impact of that one. I was undergoing a rather long period of rehabilitation from an accident, one that required a substantial amount of surgery and hospital time.
I distinctly remember paying $5 for a visit to the doctor’s office before Medicare. Not long after it passed the cost of a visit to any of my doctors’ offices jumped to $25. So much for holding down the costs of both guns and butter. The genie had been let out of the bottle and has been fulfilling Medicare wishes for many years since and we have learned to love it.
Entering the discombobulated debates over Obamacare we geezers held nothing more sacred than our Social Security and Medicare – the very programs large portions of our preceding generations had so vehemently opposed.
And therein lies the rub.
All Congress has to do is get the initial law on the books, and then they virtually have lifetimes to tweak and massage it into whatever suits the needs of the day. It doesn’t even matter if they read the initial bill or not. It’s never going to come out to be what everyone thinks they think it is.
A ride or two on Air Force One, a gift of government largesse to a few states, meaningless Executive Orders and the majority party ties up enough votes to get it into law.
Hence we have Obamacare and we’re going to love it. In a few years, it will become as sacred a right as Social Security and Medicare. That’s just the way it works.
But, you ask: “Won’t the cost of it break us?”
Eventually, it will, but not in most of our lifetimes so even though some of us ask the question we’re not really all that concerned with the answer.
All three of these programs – Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare – only add to the financial burdens of the country. They will not be the sole cause of the eventual collapse of our economy.
What will cause the collapse of our economy will be the eventual collapse of the dollar. Never in the history of fiat money – money not backed by some species such as gold or silver – has fiat money not devalued to zero.
If we must blame someone, let’s blame President Richard Nixon for removing us from the Gold Standard and floating our currency in the international market. Since then our dollars have been worth only what someone will give us for them.
As the cost of maintaining our increasing government programs rises, the value of our dollars continues to decrease on the world market because we have to keep borrowing to keep our dollars afloat and that borrowing constantly deflates the value of our dollars.
The dollar, like the original fiat money – early Chinese bark currency – will eventually become worthless.
What it will be replaced with is anybody’s guess but it will eventually be replaced by some other medium of exchange and life will go on albeit it could be a bumpy road.
I once spent a morning enjoying coffee and watching the surf of the Atlantic Ocean in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., with Andy Rooney. In the course of our conversation, I asked him, with all of his years of Washington watching, how he would sum it up.
“We all want more out of Washington than we put in, and we do a damn good job of getting it,” Rooney said.
And you know, I couldn’t disagree with him.
So, get used to Obamacare. We’re going to love it!
Dave Whitney is a retired journalist and adventurer who has won many writing awards. He was born and raised in central Ohio, attended school in Missouri, served in the US Army Security Agency, and migrated to Florida a half-century ago. Author of four books, he is a former Associated Press writer/editor and has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize during his writing career. As editor and founder of the Free Press newspapers in the Florida Keys, he was the first publisher to pick up Frank Kaiser’s “Suddenly Senior” column when it entered syndication. Whitney currently resides in Lakeland, Fla., after living 25 years in the Florida Keys.
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