03 October 2013

Fernando from Fredericksburg, VA  


The ballyhoo in Congress for the past four years has been the curiously-legislated, imperfect, much-maligned Affordable Care Act. Depending on how vituperative you are, you might call this law "Obamacare." No matter.

The Affordable Care Act has the distinction of being the most fillabustered bill in Congressional history. Now, don't get me wrong, the bill was not the greatest, but as America is the only advanced civilization on Earth without some form of universal health care, the dragging of the feet in Congress was nothing short of baffling. And then, of course, were the accusations that the bill was "jammed down throats" and that Congressmen hadn't "read the bill." All of that prompted people to seriously inquire into whether or not Congressmen read any of the bills in their entire before they vote on them. But no matter.

In 2010, a Republican minority in the House of Representatives crafted a very strong, negative message centered on Obamacare and swept into power. In 2012, running against the guy whose name adorns the vernacular of the bill, you would figure that Republicans would have no problem anointing a successor and making President Obama a one-termer. But it was not to be.

Voters rejected the Republican ticket just one year before full implementation of Obamacare was to take effect. The Republican motto was still "Repeal, Reform, Replace" or some form thereof, but it was losing support on a broad, national level.

And then, of course, take into consideration the recent poll that found 47% of Americans support the Affordable Care Act, while only 36% support Obamacare. Remember from earlier that this is the same exact legislation. Commence facepalm.

Fernando is a 47-year old Marine Corps veteran. We had a frank conversation about the primary principle of the Affordable Care Act--that of access to basic health care for all--after an unseasonably cold Marine Corps Half Marathon in Fredericksburg a few years ago.

Fernando has no children and lost his wife in a drunk driving accident several years ago. He works as a mechanic and volunteers the rest of his time as a middle school wrestling coach nearby.

On the exterior, there is no way to know any of that about Fernando. He is trim, upbeat, and talks to strangers almost as much as your author. That day at the bar, FOX News was waxing poetic about the most recent doomsday scenario under Obamacare (it might have been Sarah Palin's "death panels"). For Fernando, however, when it comes to Obamacare, stark realities contrast enduring truths:

"This bill is going to put some small businesses under. That's just the facts. But you've gotta figure that any bill that tries to provide people this basic right that they've been denied for so long is gonna hurt somebody up front. 

I look at it this way:  when you buy a house, you gotta put down some money up front, otherwise your mortgage is gonna bite you. Those small businesses that were on the edge--closest to going under--are going to bite the bullet when this law goes into effect.

And as bad as that sounds, it's really going to be OK in the long run. Entrepreneurism isn't dead in this country and anyone who tells you it is has no faith in ordinary people. Lawyers and politicians might tell you that but I wouldn't trust 'em to begin with.

We need this health care law. When people are healthy, they work more. When people work more, companies are more productive. When companies are more productive, they can sell their products for cheaper. When they sell their products for cheaper, other business and individuals spend less money overall and have more leftover. Some of these businesses will hire more people and some of these people will start their own businesses. On top of that, you've got less people out of the labor force because they're physically unable to do work, which is part of the problem now. Preventative care is the silver bullet. People don't get that, but it really is. Everybody's got their studies and their analysis, but nobody's got the basic common sense thing.

Healthy people equals healthy economy. Up front, it's gonna sting a little. In the long term, long after people have forgotten these few years of political BS, they're gonna forget the real reason that GDP and standard of living are going back up. But us smart guys will remember and smile."

All I could do was nod my head, smile, and order up another round of Sweetwater.

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