Acknowledging that the country has serious medical insurance problems that only government can address, Republicans used to say that their objective was to “repeal and replace” the new national medical insurance law disparaged as “Obamacare.” Not anymore.
As Republicans in the House of Representatives voted again this week, just for publicity purposes, to repeal “Obamacare,” their leaders admitted that they would make no proposals to replace it at least until next year. Why not? Probably because any replacement would look much like “Obamacare” itself.
Indeed, “Obamacare” is only the conservative Republican proposal for national medical insurance from 1993. It would have arranged coverage for nearly everyone, but Democrats back then insisted on a much more bureaucratic plan that couldn’t win majority support, and so universality was postponed for 20 years.
The two candidates for U.S. senator in Connecticut’s Republican primary next month, Linda McMahon and Chris Shays, this week issued statements that, while pledging to replace “Obamacare,” endorsed some its objectives, like portability of insurance policies beyond employers, creation of insurance pools, and guarantees of coverage for pre-existing conditions and the ability of children to remain on their parents’ policies until age 26.
“Obamacare” isn’t perfect but no universal medical insurance system will be. As Shays keeps pointing out, as long as the government is politically divided, nothing can be accomplished without compromising, and there won’t be compromise when each side demonizes the other and compromise itself.
Just as the Democrats had 20 years ago, Republicans had a chance to compromise with “Obamacare” two years ago. Two years ago Democrats were ready and for the sake of bipartisanship would have allowed Republicans to write the legislation themselves as long as it approached universality. That principle is essential for the nation’s health and decency, and now that it has been put into law at last, there should be no repeal without simultaneous replacement.
• • •
Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill reports that the number of state legislative districts going uncontested by major-party candidates in this year’s election is down to 32 of the General Assembly’s 187 seats, compared to 54 two years ago, a decline of 41%. While many legislative retirements have encouraged competition, Merrill credits Connecticut’s new system of government financing of state legislative campaigns.
Republican challengers may also be encouraged by indications that this election may be more competitive generally, the records of the national and state Democratic administrations being so weak.
But public financing is likely the most important factor, which is ironic, since most Republican legislators opposed its enactment even as it is a far greater boon for their party, long the minority in the General Assembly. Commanding the majority, the Democrats can shake down special interests whenever they need help.
• • •
Receiving an award the other day from the NAACP for Connecticut’s repeal of capital punishment, Gov. Malloy denounced capital punishment’s disproportionate application against criminals from racial minority and impoverished backgrounds.
But it has been a long time since death sentences were applied that way in Connecticut. The state’s Death Row is ethnically diverse and its most infamous occupants have been white. Further, throughout the country, including Connecticut, imprisonment generally is imposed disproportionately on minorities and the poor, in part because crime itself is disproportionate that way and in part, much less so, because of racial and economic prejudice.
That is, the governor’s argument against capital punishment is the wrong one, an argument that can be made against any punishment at all. The only compelling argument against capital punishment is that its verdicts, like all verdicts, can be mistaken, but unlike all other verdicts can never be corrected.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.