"Hallelujahs!" ring through certain Capitol Hill offices, as Republicans congratulate themselves for having preserved for a year my fundamental right to purchase lousy insurance at an inflated price. Thus, the party's elected leadership has become a toddler who, during potty training, gleefully points to the product of his efforts.
If nothing else, we have reassurance that a GOP standard has been preserved, one that has been playfully labeled by my research team as Wyatt's Law, to wit: Intensity of Republican opposition is directly proportional to the probability that a given piece of legislation is beneficial to the non-wealthy.
Obamacare presents but the most recent example of Wyatt's Law. Others may be identified easily. Social Security keeps millions out of the poor house, which creates within the GOP an irresistible urge to kill it. Medicare enables millions of older Americans to obtain health care, which has brought about the Republican Party's constant push for Medicare reform -- a euphemism for their efforts to pull the plug on it.
Wyatt's Law is evident in our own Rep. Shelly Moore Capito's dozens of votes to repeal Obamacare rather than support the law designed to enable her state's more than 250,000 uninsured individuals to have health care. It was seen in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) announcement that his priority was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Wyatt's Law was at work when extremist Republicans proudly claimed their government shutdown to have been a victory, even though it cost the economy $24 billion and threw several hundred thousand folks out of work.
The New York Times reports that a recent House Republican strategy memo advises the use of talking points such as "Because of Obamacare, I lost my insurance" and "Obamacare increases health-care costs" and suggests that members should "continue collecting constituent stories."
According to the Times' Jonathan Weisman and Sheryl Bay Stolberg, the GOP playbook walks House members through "messaging tools" that include a well-oiled plan to shape, rather than seek, opinions about Obamacare. Such talking points, media tactics and sample opinion articles may be useful politically, but are little more than efforts to create pseudo-information.
Another GOP strategy invites stories at meetings that are allegedly open for public comment. First was a Gastonia, N.C., meeting led by House Government Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Among the five North Carolinians who were permitted to speak were two representatives of insurance companies, and two management-level representatives of agencies that provide health services. Quite likely, each of their business incomes will take a hit because of Obamacare, but only because the insured will be required to pay less for the services those businesses are selling.
Several Gastonians were not permitted to speak because they had favorable comments about Obamacare. An Issa staffer admitted that speakers had been carefully vetted, which is the reason Allison Ward, 57, who lost her insurance when she lost her job as an executive assistant at a bank during the recession, was refused permission to address Issa's committee. She feels fortunate to have Obamacare and had hoped to say so.
Thus, the House GOP is reduced to a lonely ghost of its once proud and effective self as it trolls for reports from anyone who will say something negative about Obamacare.
Fewer than 2 percent of Americans will pay more for their insurance monthly premiums, under the ACA. But even they will pay lower deductibles, lower co-payments and the like which, for many of them, ultimately will result in lower total insurance costs.
Wyatt is a Gazette contributing columnist and a professor at Marshall University.