Obamacare Debate Needs Reconstructive Surgery
At 11:30 p.m. Monday, Stephen Colbert returned to living rooms around the country with a new episode of The Colbert Report after a one-week Thanksgiving hiatus. His lead-in? HealthCare.gov, of course. Colbert pounced on administration officials who are proclaiming “victory” as a 90 percent success rate.
“Get on the school bus, kids! Principal Obama says the bridge is 90 percent complete,” Colbert quipped enthusiastically before showing a bridge with the road missing in the middle. His critique that the website’s problems are unjustifiable are correct and play directly into the hands of his intended audience.
But as an attack against the law’s functionality, his observation runs parallel to the point of the Affordable Care Act. Colbert began the show with a tongue-in-cheek statement that he was thankful poor people still cannot get health insurance. This is only partially true: They cannot buy coverage through the website, but there are other channels available — they are just less convenient.
Conflating the issue of HealthCare.gov and Obamacare works as a political talking point, but it directs attention away from what the true argument is: what the role of government should be. A survey by the Public Religion Research Institute — a “nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research at the intersection of religion, values, and public life,” according to its website – suggests that this belief falls along party lines.