Lies with short legs: Are they about to be cut off?

Many people around the world know a proverb that fits the president of the United States: lies have short legs. You cannot get very far by constant lying. Sooner or later, lies will bring you down. One lie that will catch up with Donald Trump in the coming election is his repeated announcement that the United States can do much better than Obamacare with a “beautiful” Republican national health plan. Such a plan simply does not exist and the Republican majority in the Senate has never even mentioned it.

Too many lies with short legs have traveled in the Trump administration, starting with the number of people present at his inauguration to his most recent statement that children do not suffer from the plague of COVID 19. The ironies abound about a huge number of pronouncements made by the president, with the one that the U.S. had turned the corner in containing the spread of COVID 19 taking the cake on the very day that the number of dead Americans exceeded 200,000. The most extraordinary development, however, reflects the astounding hypocrisy of forcing through a new judge for the Supreme Court and reneging on the concocted theory behind the blocking of the traditional process of approval for a judge appointed by President Obama. At that time, the spurious argument was that it was up to the American people to wait and reflect on the nomination. Now, Senator Graham – one of those who stiffed the approval process for Judge Merrick Garland – has bragged that the Senate has the votes to confirm without even knowing who the nominee was. The salient fact in American history is that the newly approved judge will cast a deciding vote on existential threats to the constitutional order, from the election dispute that Donald Trump is ready to unleash to the feared abolition of Obamacare. There is no question that 50 Republican senators will confirm the nominee before the election. And there is a realization that past decisions of the Supreme Court, including the Roe vs Wade concerning a woman’s right to choose, are endangered.

Above all, the fate of Obamacare is at stake. The prospect that the self-assured conservative Supreme Court may declare it unconstitutional and strike it down dramatizes the peculiarity of the American electorate that many foreign observers find astounding: the propensity of American voters to vote against their interests. In 2004, Thomas Frank wrote an insightful book by the title “What’s the matter with Kansas?” where he foresaw the populist revolt against the liberal establishment that propelled Donald Trump to the White House. He posed the question: why do so many vote against their economic interest? It is a question that bedevils us even more at this time when a large part of the electorate is more influenced by the “culture wars” than by the hard questions of social and economic policy. The alliance between blue-collar Midwesterners and the oligarchy that has only one objective, protecting its business interests, has become even more entrenched. This is the Damocles’ sword that hangs over America on the eve of a highly contentious election. But the question that arises is still: do the Midwesterners realize the consequences of a newly enforced conservative majority in the Supreme Court on their livelihoods? A Texas judge threw out the entire law on the grounds that Congress had never intended for the law to exist without the individual mandate. The case is now before the Supreme Court that is expected to rule next spring. A reliable estimate is that 29.8 million people would lose their health insurance if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were repealed. In addition, 1.2 million jobs would be lost. In Virginia alone, the number of people without insurance would jump by 79%. This translates to 685,000 people losing their insurance. Obamacare has helped millions of people with their individual insurance and expanded coverage by Medicaid. It is an elementary conclusion that if the ACA were to disappear, people would have to spend more for their medical care and less at the grocery store and on other needs. As a result, jobs would be lost all over. The most frightening consequence is that more than 25,000 people would die each year because they could not get life-saving medical care. While President Trump presses the Supreme Court to repeal Obamacare, the alternative to the matter is that Republicans only need 51 votes through the budget process to end the tax credits that make Obamacare affordable and to reverse Medicaid expansion. The question for Virginians, and indeed all Americans, is: do we want to go the way of Kansas? Do you believe that Trump, if reelected, will propose a health law that among other things will prohibit the denial of coverage to people with pre-existing conditions? Will you accept such assurances by a president who pitifully failed to protect Americans from the incoming scourge of COVID 19 and who now insists that the pandemic is just about over? This is only the latest of the lies with short legs. Too many Americans hope that they will be cut down on Nov. 3.

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