By Paul Krugman
It's just beginning for the Republicans, who won't be able to let go of the notion that the program is a criminal scandal, and that mobs with pitchforks will march on the White House if only they can find the right words. They'll try everything. They'll hold endless hearings; they'll get the usual suspects to publish many op-eds. Maybe they'll get "60 Minutes" to do a report that has to be retracted. And yes, maybe Republicans will gain some seats in the midterm elections, although those are a long way away. But health reform is, almost surely, over the hump.
That's a curious belief to hold, given the fact that every other advanced country has such a guarantee, and that the United States has a 45-year-old single-payer system for seniors that has worked pretty well all this time. But nothing makes these people as angry as the suggestion that Obamacare might actually prove workable. And it's going to get worse.
Republicans see class warfare as a winning message, but they risk hurting the blue-collar whites the party depends on.
By Beth Reinhard
Medicaid expansion is "the principal reason your kids' college tuition is going up," Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky charged at a press conference here.
New Medicaid recipients "have no personal responsibility for their health," said state Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, in a memo from the state capital.
And in Louisiana, Senate candidate and Republican Representative Bill Cassidy hypothesized about a single woman forced to pay high premiums under Obamacare who thinks her neighbor could make more money. "But he would rather work fewer hours or work for cash or, perhaps, live out of wedlock so that he and his girlfriend both qualify for the taxpayer-provided free insurance," Cassidy wrote in a newspaper column.
"I don't have any use for the federal government," Rupe said, even though his household's $13,000 yearly income comes exclusively from Washington. "It's a bunch of liars, crooks, and thieves, and they've never done anything for me. I'm not ungrateful, but I don't have much faith in this healthcare law. Do I think it's going to work? No. Do I think it's going to bankrupt the country? Yes."
Rupe sounds like he could be standing on a soapbox at a Tea Party rally, but he happens to be sitting in a back room at the Family Health Centers' largest clinic in Louisville—signing up for Medicaid. Rupe, who is white, insists that illegal immigrants from Mexico and Africa get more government assistance than he does. (Illegal immigrants do not, in fact, qualify for Medicaid or coverage under the Affordable Care Act.)
He's not alone in thinking this way. A majority of whites believe the healthcare law will make things worse for them and their families, according to a United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll.
"President Obama's idea is taking from the working people to give to the people who won't take care of themselves. It's redistribution of wealth," Rupe said. "I've always taken care of myself. You got these young girls who go out and get pregnant and then they get $1,500 a month for having a kid, so they have two."
Obamacare = welfare = helping minorities
Reinhard barely mentions race, but it's the elephant in the room. Terry Rupe explained what he really hates above:
This fear is fueled by the right-wing media even though it's unmoored from reality. As the article states, illegal immigrants can't get Obamacare and most welfare recipients are white.
But Tea Party Republicans have learned that openly expressing their racism earns them only scorn from the mainstream public and media. So they've invented ways to talk about race without talking about it.
An article explains how terms like "states' rights" and "welfare queens" became code-words for "keep the black man in his place."
How the GOP became the “White Man’s Party”
From Nixon to Rand, Republicans have banked on the unerring support of Southern white men. Here's how it came to be
By Ian Haney-Lopez
The nation’s reaction was an epiphany for Wallace, or perhaps better, three thunderbolts that together convinced Wallace to reinvent himself yet again. First, Wallace realized with a shock that hostility toward blacks was not confined to the South. “He had looked out upon those white Americans north of Alabama and suddenly been awakened by a blinding vision: ‘They all hate black people, all of them. They’re all afraid, all of them. Great god! That’s it! They’re all Southern. The whole United States is Southern.’” Wallace suddenly knew that overtures to racial resentment would resonate across the country.
His second startling realization was that he, George Wallace, had figured out how to exploit that pervasive animosity. The key lay in seemingly non-racial language. At his inauguration, Wallace had defended segregation and extolled the proud Anglo-Saxon Southland, thereby earning national ridicule as an unrepentant redneck. Six months later, talking not about stopping integration but about states’ rights and arrogant federal authority—and visually aided by footage showing him facing down a powerful Department of Justice official rather than vulnerable black students attired in their Sunday best—Wallace was a countrywide hero. “States’ rights” was a paper-thin abstraction from the days before the Civil War when it had meant the right of Southern states to continue slavery. Then, as a rejoinder to the demand for integration, it meant the right of Southern states to continue laws mandating racial segregation—a system of debasement so thorough that it “extended to churches and schools, to housing and jobs, to eating and drinking … to virtually all forms of public transportation, to sports and recreations, to hospitals, orphanages, prisons, and asylums, and ultimately to funeral homes, morgues, and cemeteries.” That’s what “states’ rights” defended, though in the language of state-federal relations rather than white supremacy. Yet this was enough of a fig leaf to allow persons queasy about black equality to oppose integration without having to admit, to others and perhaps even to themselves, their racial attitudes.
“Wallace pioneered a kind of soft porn racism in which fear and hate could be mobilized without mentioning race itself except to deny that one is a racist,” a Wallace biographer argues. The notion of “soft porn racism” ties directly to the thesis of “Dog Whistle Politics.” Wallace realized the need to simultaneously move away from supremacist language that was increasingly unacceptable, while articulating a new vocabulary that channeled old, bigoted ideas. He needed a new form of racism that stimulated the intended audience without overtly transgressing prescribed social limits. The congratulatory telegrams from across the nation revealed to Wallace that he had found the magic formula. Hardcore racism showed white supremacy in disquieting detail. In contrast, the new soft porn racism hid any direct references to race, even as it continued to trade on racial stimulation. As a contemporary of Wallace marveled, “he can use all the other issues—law and order, running your own schools, protecting property rights—and never mention race. But people will know he’s telling them ‘a nigger’s trying to get your job, trying to move into your neighborhood.’ What Wallace is doing is talking to them in a kind of shorthand, a kind of code.”