How do you get your news? Some stubbornly old-fashioned folks still read it from the smudgy ink on the cut-rate paper that mysteriously arrives every morning on the driveway, and some are even so hidebound they continue to get it from the early evening newscasts that the broadcast networks still provide by force of habit. The more up-to-date among us now stay informed on the internet, where a variety of sites such as this one provide news and commentary suited to the reader’s preferred prejudices, or settle for the “tweet”-sized opinions of their slight acquaintances on social media. These days most people seem find the half-hourly news updates on the pop radio stations sufficient to keep them well-informed, or they try to infer what’s going on from the jokes on The Daily Show or the other late-night comedy programs, or they do their best to avoid the news altogether.
Almost all of these options tend to reiterate the liberal point of view, except to those daring souls who venture to dissident sites such as this one, but conservatives can take solace in knowing that every person still gets a heavy dose of irrefutable reality to counteract this in his mailbox. This explains the continuing and increasing unpopularity of Obamacare, which sounds great when reading about it in the newspapers or hearing about on the newscasts, but no longer seems as appealing when the costs at last show up in an official envelope. The President of the United States continues to assure the public that health insurance costs will go down as a result of the law, and that everyone satisfied with their current arrangements will be able to keep them, but no matter how many times he repeats the claims nor how many times the various media corroborate them millions of Americans will be more inclined to believe the bottom line of the bill that has arrived in the mail.
So many people have lately received contradictory information about Obamacare in the mail, with hefty payment demanded by the end of the month, that the cold, hard facts have begun to seep into even the most Obama-obeisant news reports. It’s gotten to the point that such an impeccably liberal publication as The San Jose Mercury News, a newspaper that still survives by its steadfast effort to shield its liberal Bay Area readership from any facts that might challenge its most cherished assumptions, was forced to acknowledge that not everyone will be pleased with Obamacare’s results. In an article headlined “Obamacare’s Winners and Losers in Bay Area” the newspaper struggled mightily to find a few sympathetic winners, but could not avoid interviewing some formerly enthusiastic losers.
The San Jose Mercury’s tiny minority of right-wing readers will have to be forgiven the schadenfreude they no doubt felt when reading about two die-hard Obama supporters admit that their health care costs will rise and their health care services decline as a result of the hilariously-named “Affordable Care Act.” One of the interviewees will see her health insurance costs increase by $1,800 a year, which she considers a significant amount for someone of her modest income, while another more affluent liberal will be forced to cough up an extra $10,000 per annum, which is a sizeable sum even by the standards of a well-heeled Bay Area liberal. Neither are yet willing to recant their devotion to the president or his historic legislative achievement, but both begrudgingly admit to nagging doubts with some quotes that conservatives will cherish.
“I was laughing at (House Speaker John) Boehner — until the mail came today,” said Tom Waschura, the 52-year-old self-employed engineer who received notice of the $10,000 price hike. “I really don’t like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not being going into our local economy.” An even more satisfying quote came from Cindy Vinson, the 60-year-old retired teacher stuck with the extra $1,800 deduction from her fixed income, who said “Of course I want people to have health care, I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”
To compound its journalistic heresy, The San Jose Mercury News also quotes a couple of health insurance experts who confirm that these are not mere anecdotes but examples of a much larger trend. One of the experts assures that “There’s going to be a number of people” receiving such rate shocks, and another explains that “The upper middle-class are the people who are essentially being asked to foot the bill, and that’s true across the country.” With 60-year-old retired teachers in the pricey Bay Area now included among the “upper middle class,” it will likely be a very large percentage of the country finding that the presidential promises will go unfulfilled.
The president and his press will continue to repeat those promises, but even Bay Area liberals are more likely to believe what they find in the mail. Any congressional Republicans thinking of going wobbly on the shut-down battle because of the negative would do well to remember this.
— Bud Norman