Babel of despair…
Posted May 3, 2013on:
Following up on Chat’s wonderful post yesterday about symbolism, here’s one I couldn’t pass up. Recently, Rep. Eric Cantor, in his role of Republican makeover cosmetologist, was flirting with the idea of introducing a bill called the, “Help Sick Americans Now Act.”
The idea behind the bill was to more generously fund the government’s high risk insurance pool — the pool where the sickest of the sick, those with pre-existing conditions, can go to get coverage. Currently, this effort is so poorly funded, very few of the country’s uninsurable have had the ability to avail themselves of coverage. Cantor’s proposal was merely a stopgap measure until the community pools of Obamacare kick in where everyone can buy coverage regardless of their health status.
All in all, Cantor’s proposal was a good one. Of course he was thinking primarily of alleviating some of the “heartlessness” claims lobbed at the Republican Party since he is in charge of the remaking it into a kinder, gentler, more melanin friendly party. That aside, I don’t really care what his motivations were, the sickest of the sick were going to get some help and that is a good thing.
Then BAM — KABOOM — WHAMMY — OOOPH!
The Conservative “Austerity Caucus” cried “Cantorcare,” the Club for Growth said they would score Cantor’s proposal akin to Obamacare on their scorecard, and any number of the Tea Party Caucus called it “big government Republicanism.“ Cantor beat a hasty retreat to the L’Oreal makeup counter to consider if there is anything conceivable that might make his party look a little better.
Cantor’s idea wasn’t a big new program. It had a very limited duration of one to two years. It was a capped appropriation. There were no new employees. The programmatic infrastructure was already in place. It was designed to help the sickest of the sickest among us. It was a means of helping families stave off medical bankruptcy and softening the eventual costs to hospitals in unreimbursed care. And over and above all of this, when someone leveled a “heartlessness grenade” during the next election cycle, this was a ready-made Cantor-certified deflection shield.
This was also microscopic minimalism. This was a stutter-step of a baby step. This was the proverbial gagging at a gnat by the GOP elephant. This was not big stuff. And most importantly, it would have helped some people.
And yet, the Austerians still said no — not on their watch.
This is a perfect example of the wrong-headedness of those worshipping at the altar of austerity. At some level there’s a visceral sense that we Americans have sinned through the excesses of the 2000s and now must somehow seek redemption through suffering. Problem is — the people who are now suffering aren’t at all the same people who were doing the sinning.
On another level, the austerity movement is about class and inequality. When you analyze the wants and desires of the One Percent crowd, it conveniently fits four-square with the goals of the Austerians — unrealistically, historically low tax rates and the exorcism of government programs for those whose daily life is a constant struggle of unraveling a Gordian Knot of food or medicine.
And if Dante took a shot at writing this morality play about austerity, the innermost circle of this hellish parody is festooned with not one whit of analytical data to support any of the underlying tenets. Truly this is the most sinister of divine comedies, wreaking havoc on the poorest to assuage the richest, ignoring those who suffer while tending to the well-heeled, and adding to unemployment by eliminating the jobs of those whose sole purpose it is to feed and care for children, the ill, and the elderly.
At least those entering Dante’s world had fair warning of abandoning all hope — true to their basest nature, the Austerians have not even hope for all those they have abandoned.
This is an open thread.
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