The Wide Applications of “Kill it to Save it”

Citizen Wealth Financial Justice Health Care

New Orleans   Reading the desperate comments from President Trump and some of the hard-far-right-conservative Republican Senators on the eve of their “holiday” making the case that because they couldn’t agree on a new bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, then they should just repeal it all, give the existing situation a year to go, and try to come up with something down the road, brought one statement clearly to mind: “kill it to save it.” For me the resuscitation of this old Vietnam War justification for similar atrocities was easy because earlier on Wade’s World. I had interviewed Corey Dolgon, a professor at Stonehill College in Massachusetts about his new book, appropriately entitled, Kill It to Save It: An Autopsy of Capitalism’s Triumph Over Democracy.

In his book, Professor Dolgon argued that energy for change from the social movements of the 60’s dissipated from near misses and fatigue with the wind down of the Vietnam War under President Richard Nixon, but rather than the scorched earth war conceit of “kill it to save it” vanishing, instead it became a crushing weight, dominating institutions and policy in the United States. Dolgon revives attention to President Jimmy Carter’s “crisis of confidence” speech, but then watches Carter’s accurate analysis drift into the politics of destruction. You get the basic message Dolgon has to offer. He cites more modern examples from Katrina to the dismantling of higher and lower education regimes to extend his case and stretch forward his analysis. No doubt if I had been talking to Dolgon after the latest nihilist shots at the Affordable Care Act, he would have had a field day.

Peggy Noonan, the moderate conservative Republican and recent Pulitizer-prize winning columnist for the Wall Street Journal spits into the wind with an argument that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s threat to Republicans that he was going to have to start talking to Democrats since they couldn’t agree on how to repeal-and-replace Obamacare, should be recast as a promise. She makes a good point that something so “intimate,” in her words, as someone’s healthcare should in fact be a bipartisan project in the vein of Roosevelt’s efforts for Social Security and Johnson’s work to win Medicare, regardless of the Obama “going alone” model which passed the Affordable Care Act, but also devastated Democratic majorities in the House and Senate over time and, like or not, has left us in the situation we have now.

The cornerstone of her argument and that of anyone willing to be honest about it all is that Obamacare had flaws, huge ones, though we may all disagree on what and what. I’ve been harping on the failure to cap deductibles at a reasonable level, following the Massachusetts model, for years now, because it has blocked the participation of lower waged workers with technically qualifying plans, which are ridiculously unaffordable and offer minimal benefits. In fact they put lower waged workers in the same untenable situation described for rising seniors beneath the Medicare qualifying age under the mean-spirited Republican offer.

We could go on and on and even make good sense, but all of that would depend on reducing the polarity of politics, and for reasons good and bad, a terrible healthcare bill is a safer bet than one where all parties would agree.