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AFFORDABLE CARE and PUTIN

March 25, 2014

OBAMA FLIES UNDER THE RADAR

 

I am happy to see that millions of previously-uninsured Americans are finally catching on to the concept that health insurance is a good idea and that they can get it at a price they can afford. I think that this is what President Obama had in mind when he set out to reform the shameful US health care system. Of course, it was predictable that the right-wingers would go crazy about the concept that the poor and the sick should actually get access to the same health care system in the same country that they share with the right-wingers. As ridiculous as it may seem to many that a child with diabetes would be denied health insurance in the land of the free and the home of the brave, that is what we had before the Affordable Care Act. Now that child will be covered. There are many such examples to be saved for another time.

 

For now, however, the biggest beneficiary of the Affordable Care Act is Vladimir Putin. He doesn’t need health insurance because all people in Russia have access to free healthcare, but he does need a US foreign policy in which every real or imagined international problem does not require a US military response. The Affordable Care Act, somewhat to Obama’s surprise I think, has provided excellent cover for a return to a US foreign policy that provides diplomatic input when called for and a military response only when the US and its citizens are actually at imminent risk. The right-wingers are so pissed off at the Affordable Care Act that they can’t find time to be equally pissed off that Obama has kept his powder dry in Ukraine, Syria, and other potential hotspots where there is almost no US security interest and even less US influence.

 

This is actually good news for America. Even if the right-wingers succeed in taking voting control of the Congress they now dominate without the votes, it will be tough to roll back access to health care for millions who have enrolled under the Affordable Care Act, including some wealthy and middle class folks previously denied health insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions. But I can assure you that the right-wingers will try to role it back with vigor, single-minded determination, and righteous passion. This should allow Obama the political space to keep this country out of wars for the time being. It will even overwhelm the dynamic warrior tag team of John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

 

So Putin, rejoice. You have been saved by the Affordable Care Act, leaving you plenty of room to move on Ukraine and take on its debt burden, its economic and social problems, and its corrupted institutions. While this may not be good for either Russia or Ukraine, it has next to nothing to do with the US. We have no influence, real or imagined, with any of the significant players. They have been at each other for centuries without us, and to the extent that meaningful solutions can be found, they are far more likely to come from within.

 

Meanwhile, I hope that President Obama keeps plugging away at institutionalizing the constructive elements of the Affordable Care Act and continues to try his best to get private health insurance companies to actually work for the common good. I also hope that President Putin exercises some restraint in his quest for greater glory for Mother Russia. As the US mid-term elections begin to heat up, Republican focus on the evils of the Affordable Care Act will have some limits. It is important that Putin remember that the right-wing in the US needs killing fields in order to thrive and that the Affordable Care Act can only serve as the enemy for so long.

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