Ted Cruz's Kooky Filibuster & What's REALLY Going on With ObamaCare

4 years ago

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas mixed filibustering with a bedtime reading of the Dr. Seuss classic "Green Eggs & Ham" for his daughters in the midst of a 21-hour speech to rally Republican support to defund the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.

The moment, caught via his chief strategist Jason Johnson, blew up on Twitter in the #MakeDCListen stream.

Some of the more silly ramblings, like quotes from the TV hit Duck Dynasty, got folks chatting, but at the heart of the filibuster were his very serious concerns about the nation's overhaul of health coverage.

The Senate floor theatrics mark the latest in a long recent string of attacks from Republicans and organized labor and praised from Democrats over funding the legacy legislation of President Barack Obama, whose approval rating is in desperate need of a win.

Material for the cheerleaders seems to be getting flimsy, especially with some very loud and public outcry from proponents of working families and organized labor, who see the law as growing the divide between the haves and the have-nots.

Image Credit: CNN

On Sunday, one such cheerleader -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) -- stumped CNN's "State of the Union" host Candy Crowley, who read a letter from union leader James Hoffa Jr. stating that ObamaCare's impact on employers serves to "destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week."

"That's pretty tough from a loyal Democratic constituency," Crowley noted.

In an amazing show of callousness, the San Francisco millionaire spun it as a way for working families to "pursue your happiness... follow your passion."

Not exactly poetry, but "let them eat cake" was already taken.

But the Republicans aren't exactly galvanized. For every Cruz or Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), there's a Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who believes it's all just hooey.

"It will be a cold day in Arizona when we defund ObamaCare," McCain said.

He's apparently sharing a communications adviser with Pelosi.

All the political peacocking isn't doing the public any good, because research shows most Americans still just don't quite get it.

Here are a few basics to give you an understanding of what all the hullabaloo is about:

What's happening on Oct. 1?
  • Beginning on Oct. 1, Americans looking for health coverage should be able to enroll in a private insurance plan through a state-based exchange - online marketplaces where consumers can in theory comparison shop for health coverage.
  • The exchanges will be different in each state. In 16 states and Washington, D.C., state officials have decided to run their own exchanges, with their own regulations. The 34 remaining states will have their exchanges run by the federal government.
  • The states are also opening exchanges on which small business owners can purchase coverage for their employees. Not every state, however is ready to launch their small business exchange especially in light of the potential to cut back work hours due to mandatory employee coverage beginning 2015.
Could the government shut down on Oct. 1?
  • A spending bill to fund operations for a few months requires Congressional support. It's also the same date that ObamaCare hopes to start open enrollment.
  • A partial government shutdown should not stop the exchanged from opening since a large portion of the law contains mandatory funding.
What if Congress "defunds" ObamaCare?
  • While some Republicans propose including a provsion to "defund" ObamaCare in the spending bill, the law still has mandatory funding to fall back on.
  • The only means to "defund" the entire law would be to repeal the entire law.
Will my coverage be the same?
  • Probably not. The exchanges are designed for low- and middle-income Americans who don't already have health insurance. To keep costs low, insurers indicate they will have to scale down the network of hospitals and doctors included in their plans.
  • Some plan will offer limited access to large academic medical centers, which treat high-risk patients. Narrower networks may lead to higher out-of-pocket costs, especially for complex medical problems.
What else is in the works for ObamaCare?
  • Jan. 1, 2014: Coverage through the exchanges begins. All Americans must obtain insurance by then or pay a fine to the IRS. Several states will also expand Medicaid to coverage residents who fall 138 percent below the poverty line.
  • March 31, 2014: Open enrollment on the exchange closes.
  • 2015: Mandated employee coverage begins for companies with at least 50 full-time employees to offer their workers insurance.
  • Already in effect: Preventative services for women and prescription drug discounts.

What likely will not end on Oct. 1 will be the political grandstanding in Washington and the rhetoric that goes along with it.

The numerous flaws in ObamaCare might well have been served by such antics BEFORE the law was enacted. At this point, it seems we're set on a collision course with some major learning curves and growing pains.

Thankfully, it's only over our healthcare. So, no biggie.

- Erica Holloway is a BlogHer contributing editor for the Politics & New Pages. Contact her at erica@galvanizedstrategies.com or follow her @erica_holloway.

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