While the shutdown has provoked some eyebrow-raising remarks from the Tea Party-aligned conservatives, the Affordable Care Act, which is really at the heart of the government shutdown, is also providing fodder for some commentators to make truly outrageous statements.
Here are five of the worst that have been made in the past few weeks.
1. Obamacare will Cause Genocide
WorldNetDaily’s Ellis Washington is positive that the Affordable Care Act is really just a product of a Nazi-like regime. Alongside an image of Obama made to look like Hitler, he puffs:
Nazi Germany is the true birthplace, and Hitler is the real father of universal health care. Like Lenincare, Stalincare, Maocare, Castrocare and Obamacare, all universal health-care systems are derivative of Marxism, socialism, communism, progressivism, postmodernism and thus are antithetical to America’s founding constitutional principles of God, the Bible, natural law, equality, liberty and truth. Like Hitlercare, Obamacare will inevitably lead to health-care rationing, death panels, millions of uninsured and, eventually, the systematic genocide of the weak, minorities, enfeebled, the elderly and political enemies of the God-state.
I don’t think this really needs refuting as it stands on its own as a ludicrous bit of nonsense. (H/t Right Wing Watch.)
2. Obamacare Will Cause A Wave of Divorce
Janice Fioravante at Financial Planning posted an article recently explaining to us why affordable health care is bad for marriage. Financial Planning is behind a subscription wall, so it’s not easily accessible. Fortunately, dozens of religious conservative commentators including NOM’s the Ruth Institute have jumped on this, citing this as an expert opinion:
Fioravante writes that if the health insurance exchanges do indeed make insurance more affordable, some separated couples may choose to finalize their divorces. She cites financial planners who claim that “health insurance definitely comes up a lot” when working out the details of a divorce. Couples even go so far as to legally separate but stay married so that one spouse can gain from the other’s insurance plan.
How wide is this phenomenon? How much of an impact will the ACA have? It’s difficult to say, but surely any measure that discourages a couple from relying on each other emotionally, spiritually, and financially also serves to encourage any tempting thoughts of divorce. And divorce, researchers have long known, isn’t good for anyone’s health.
But staying in a desperately unhappy marriage because of a broken health care system is great fro your well being? As long as you stay married, NOM doesn’t care.
3. The ACA Will Lead to Rationed Healthcare for the Elderly
Sarah Palin and her “deathpanel” smear are back and, as evidenced by a recent appearance on Fox News’ Cashin’ In, she’s sticking to her story:
Of course there are death panels in there. But the important thing to remember is that’s just one aspect of this atrocious, unaffordable, cumbersome, burdensome evil policy of Obama’s and that is Obamacare.
She’s not the only one, either. As Media Matters points out, a whole host of (mostly Fox-aligned) commentators have made similar allegations, including Sean Hannity, who said in September that “Obamacare Death Panels Are In Fact Alive And Well,” claiming there is new evidence for that. He was unable to really provide that “evidence” though.
In essence, these critics charge that the government will not provide health care for the elderly to prolong life if they deem that this investment would be a waste of funds.
In reality, the Affordable Care Act contains express language against that kind of activity: “The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums under section 1818, 1818A, or 1839, increase Medicare beneficiary cost- sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.”
4. Obamacare Will Cause a Wave of Black Unemployment
Unemployment is a pressing issue for many in America, and particularly minority populations like the African American community. But how does unemployment connect to the Affordable Care Act? According to Leah Durant writing for The Washington Times, the ACA means employers won’t hire:
Consider Obamacare, the president’s signature legislative achievement. State-level insurance exchanges — a crucial part of the law — officially open for enrollment Tuesday. These online marketplaces are set to begin delivering health coverage early next year. The problem is, by driving up the price of insurance, and then passing along those new expenses to businesses, Obamacare discourages employers from hiring. Employers now have a direct economic incentive not to expand their workforce. Entrepreneurs face even greater financial barriers in getting their firms off the ground.
Durant goes on to say that the “red tape” created by the Affordable Care Act will also prevent African American entrepreneurs from starting up their own businesses.
This simply isn’t true. The prospect of the individual mandate has not caused small businesses to stop hiring and, what is more, a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has found that 89% of businessowners have said they have no plans to cut down on employee hours. Media Matters presents a good crop of studies and analyses to demonstrate the fear of a rise in overall unemployment is unfounded, and there is no reputable analysis to show the ACA will impact racial and ethnic minorities’ job prospects.
5. Those Who Do Not Get Insurance Will Face Jail
During Senator Ted Cruz’s 21-hour nonfilibuster he made a lot of unfounded claims about the ACA, but one that came from teammate Senator Rand Paul was that a failure to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s insurance requirement and then a failure to pay the subsequent fine will land people in jail:
That is what I think the senator from Texas has started, hopefully a rebellion against coercion, rebellion against mandates, a rebellion against everything that says that big government wants to shove something down your throat, they say take it or we will put people in jail. People say we aren’t going to put anybody in jail. The heck they won’t. You will get fined first. If you don’t pay your fines, you will go to jail.
As USA Today points out, the law specifically precludes jail time under its “Waiver of Criminal Penalties” section: “In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.” The IRS has also confirmed that it will use offsets on future tax refunds for those who flout the law, not criminal proceedings.
While debate around the Affordable Care Act is not to be discouraged, what is currently at the heart of the government shutdown is not a debate, it is a farce built upon a series of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies that is only serving to hurt American interests.
Photo credits: Thinkstock.