Call it the conundrum of the New Confederacy. Call it, “All dressed up in gray and no place to go.”
They passed around “we secede” petitions when President Obama won re-election. Didn’t work.
They sued to stop the Affordable Care Act. Didn’t work.
They shut down the government to unhinge the two-year-old law, just as health exchanges sprang into action. Didn’t work.
And now? If you were contemplating that the most dedicated opponents of everything Obama stands for would just up and flee the country; well, where to turn?
Refugees would find a single-payer health care system to the north of us and to the south of us. Yes, in 2003 Mexico decided that having millions without access to health care was barbaric, so it did something about it.
In Texas, a foamy hotbed of foment, Republican leaders cover their ears and hum real loudly to not hear this: The state will leave $79 billion in federal funds on the table over the next 10 years for its refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Yes: $79 billion that could cover families against catastrophe, pay for checkups and vaccinations — things no good red state would ever need. The free market takes care of all that.
But Texas is not alone. The confederated belt of resistance that is the New American South is where most of the ear covering and humming is going on. The result: 8 million Americans, most of them residents of Deep Dixie, are left out — earning too much for Medicaid where they live and too little for federal subsidies under the ACA.
Their hope: Maybe this monstrous injustice can be addressed when the tea party becomes so efficient at alienating Americans that the House changes hands in 2014. (The trending of national polls indicates Congress’ approval rating will be below zero before the first hard frost.)
It's no surprise that many of the 25 states that refuse to participate in the Affordable Care Act won’t do anything about the Medicaid matter no matter what it costs them. An exception is red-state Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer said that turning down federal dollars that could ease suffering is crazy.
So: Can’t secede. Can’t flee to Canada. Can’t head south to Mexico. Fences, you know, and a single-payer system on the other side.
What can you do? Political provocateurs Charles and David Koch have decided to use some of their gazillions this way: They will seek to cause the Affordable Care Act to collapse when Americans refuse to participate.
Their organization Generation Opportunity is promoting an “opt out” campaign which pitches to twenty-somethings that they can save money by ignoring the law and buying their own health insurance on the free market.
The Atlantic attempted to get someone with Generation Opportunity to explain how this was possible, as the Affordable Care Act provides subsidies and tax credits. Turns out, the spokesman contacted couldn’t do it.
In fact, those who take the worm on the Koch Brothers’ hook could either be buying some extremely pricey coverage or would face, with extremely cut-rate plans, deductibles that are out of this world.
According to The Atlantic, a low-cost plan recommended by the opt-out group has a $10,000 deductible. In other words, the only thing it would cover is if you caught space debris between the eyes — and not if, say, the space debris took an ear off. Aren’t ears just cosmetic contrivances anyway?
Can’t run. Can’t hide. Can’t opt out, unless you want free-market buzzards to feast on your bones.
No wonder the brightest idea of late by the knights of the New Confederacy has been to ride a TNT-filled horse-drawn wagon onto the Capitol grounds, light the fuse, and run back to precincts where political amnesty looms.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.