Here I sit, overwhelmed at the insanity taking place in the political arena. I’m taking a moment to collect my thoughts for the same reason as anyone else that keeps a journal: so when we look back at the injustices and failures of the past we get some sense of their context. Maybe it will also remind me that we tried.
The Net Neutrality Repeal
The FCC, as chaired by Ajit Pai, has stated its intention to roll back the Title II protections afforded in 2015 under President Barack Obama. There are five members of the board, three Republicans and two Democrats. The Democrats have voiced their opposition to the changes. The three majority members favor of the repeal of the consumer protections and have given the bill the compelling title, “Restoring Internet Freedom Order.” Their argument is that regulations are stifling innovation. Comcast and Verizon, in investor meetings, have both declared that Net Neutrality rules do not, in fact, hinder innovation. There have been millions of comments voiced by consumers who favor the added protections from Title II. There are some form letters. There have also been millions of automated bot comments in opposition. It seems reasonably likely that major ISPs are not expecting to get away with the fabricated comments in opposition, but hope to muddy the waters enough to make public feedback seem unusable.
It’s looking like the repeal will go through, followed by a litany of confusing legal actions which will likely ALSO be muddied by telecom providers. (This can happen because only one appellate court can hear the petition and it’s chosen more or less at random — first come first serve. If a telecom files a petition against some part of the FCC order, the jurisdiction is entered into the lottery. This will allow them to change to a more favorable venue.)
The House and The Senate have both voted to try and dismantle key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has insured a record number of people (in b4 smarmy individual mandate comment) and has started to restrain the growth of health care costs. It has been life saving for more than a few people and protected countless others from bankruptcy. Health care costs could be further reduced if states wouldn’t refuse federal funds. (This has actually happened.) Additionally, since the president is required to basically sign checks reimbursing insurers for the high-risk pools, that adds uncertainty to the market and makes it harder for insurance providers to plan forward — removing smaller providers and driving up costs for all participants.
After a massive public outcry against the mass-repeal of healthcare, it looks like Republicans have doubled down on the, “Look, we’re all about taxes,” mantra. The new tax bill contains provisions to break one of the three legs of the ACA: the individual mandate. Without the individual mandate, there’s no incentive for anyone to join the pool of insured until they need insurance. The addition of young, healthy, low-risk persons decreases the cost of providing care and drives down premiums. Without the individual mandate, people can refuse to acquire healthcare until they actually need it which, due to the rules on preexisting conditions, means they can’t be refused service (a good thing, if coupled with the individual mandate). This makes Obamacare untenable and gives Republicans deniability. “Look, we always said it was doomed. It had nothing to do with us sabotaging it. It just fell apart due to nothing we did. All we did was pass this one unrelated tax bill and suddenly it exploded.”
In Short Supply
I’ve been in fairly regular contact with my representatives at the House and Senate level. (Props to Jamario and Alex L. You guys rock.) It feels every day though that the best we can hope for is to throw lives at the battlefront while we retreat. Corporate profits continue to skyrocket. Dividends are paid to board members and shareholders instead of employees. The middle class’ wages stagnate or shrink while the working poor’s numbers grow. A fraction of a handful of a few self-serving people are setting up our country for failure to further their own personal gains and are manipulating countless thousands into believing it’s for their own personal good. No hope for a better tomorrow.