I've been bemused but not really surprised at the reaction of the right-wingers to the news last week that the Affordable Care Act had blown right past the stated goal of 7 million people signed up for private insurance under the new insurance exchanges by the deadline of March 31. The figure announced last week was 7.1 million. The revised figure announced yesterday was actually 7.5 million.
And what has been the right's response to this? The same as their response to inconvenient facts like evolution or climate change. Denial, of course!
"It's all a lie! They are cooking the books."
These are the same people who spent the last two months of the presidential campaign in 2012 insisting that all those polls that showed Obama ahead were somehow "skewed." They went to great efforts to "unskew" them and show that, actually, Romney was well in the lead and would win by a landslide.
One of the people who believed that was Mitt Romney himself. He was apparently so sure of victory that he neglected to write a concession statement in advance. He had only written a victory speech and so had to scramble to come up with something a couple of hours after the polls closed and it was obvious that he would lose.
It seems that the Republicans are following the same course in this election year. They are so sure that opposition to the Affordable Care Act is a winning strategy that they do not seem to have a Plan B. They continue to try to repeal it believing that voters will flock to their cause and make them winners once again.
But it's not just the Affordable Care Act they want to repeal. They want to repeal Medicare as well. They just passed a budget in the House of Representatives that would do away with Medicare as we know it and replace it with a voucher program.
What do these people have against their fellow citizens having access to health care that does not result in their bankruptcy?
Meanwhile, health care reform just keeps rolling and Charles Gaba, who has been spot on in detailing the numbers of those who are signing up, now says that the grand total of those who have insurance under all the provisions of the ACA is something like 20 million people! This includes people who signed up through the state and federal exchanges, off exchanges, the under 26-year-olds now covered on their parents' insurance, expanded Medicaid in those states wise enough to do that, etc.
So the Republicans are putting themselves in the position of seeking to take away the insurance of those 20 million, plus all those who are depending on Medicare and would no longer get it under their budget. Somehow that just doesn't sound like a winning political strategy to me, but who knows? As my cynical husband often reminds me, "People are stupid!"
And speaking of stupid, not to mention hard-hearted, none are more so than those Republican governors like our own Rick Perry who are refusing to expand Medicaid in their states.
This is really a no-brainer. The federal government would pay 100% of the costs of expansion for the first three years and 90% after that and millions more Americans could get insurance to help pay for their health care. This is truly a matter of life and death for some people. But these governors couldn't care less. For them, it's all about scoring political points with their base.
There must be a special circle in hell where the fires burn especially hot for people like that.
UPDATE: Paul Krugman's column today sums up very nicely the attitude and motivations of those Republican governors who refuse to expand Medicaid - the stupidity and the hateful spite.