Letter: Anti-Obama rant misguided

January 19, 2014 

‘Rant’ was misguided

What follows is a response to the commentary that Jerry Sajbel spewed upon the editorial page of this paper (“Here are Obama’s biggest lies,” Jan. 15).

Mr. Sajbel took off on the health care law first, in a Fox News-type (and likely inspired) rant. These are the facts.

You can keep your doctor. If you are among the millions of group-plan subscribers or others who pay for health insurance who are unaffected by the Affordable Care Act, there have been no changes to your health care or your choice of physician. The ACA was directed to providing health insurance (not “health care”) in an affordable way to the 40 million or so who had none.

It is true that some individual insurance plans were altered or canceled (there have been no consequences for large employer-provided group plans) because they failed to meet minimum insurance standards. The insurance companies themselves hastened this result. Though the ACA permitted these plans to continue for a year or more, the insurers bailed out of them immediately (likely because they were low-cost plans offering little coverage – and little profit).

Some Republicans probably do care about people, though they have been fooled into thinking that promoting business to the exclusion of all else helps people enough (“trickle down,” though they don’t like the term anymore). Example: experts agree that a major investment in the nation’s infrastructure would provide a significant economic boost (jobs, income, tax revenue for federal and state governments, improved roads, bridges, power grid, etc.) but Republicans’ “cut spending” zeal blocks the way.

The recession is over. A recession is a period of negative economic growth. In fact, the economy is growing and has been for four years now, though the rate is somewhat slower than many would like (about 2-3 percent in GDP terms). It must be recalled that the world economy was figuratively hit by a train in 2008-09. The stock market – the most visible predictor – shows by its rebound to current record highs that the business community is performing well (profits) and is expected to continue doing so.

Al-Qaida has been severely impacted by the broad-spectrum attack under the Bush and Obama administrations. Though Al-Qaida threatened more attacks in the U.S., none have occurred since 2001. (The domestic mayhem we have seen, such as the Marathon bombing, has been the work of home-grown individuals.) A Hellfire missile in your back seat drastically shortens your time-frame for creating havoc. The number of extremist groups operating in the Mideast today is a sad consequence of the turmoil in so many of those nations, some of which use hatred of the West (U.S. included) as kindling.

Republicans are hurting the middle class. Read the statistics, Mr. Sajbel. The income gap has widened steadily from the Reagan years onward. “Trickle down” has clearly been “trickle up.”

You complain about regulation? Ask the people of West Virginia today whether the lack of regulation of the coal industry has made their water more or less safe. And why is it that Republicans are so zealous in reducing regulation on the financial industry even after that industry singlehandedly plunged the world into an economic crisis so severe that only government intervention on a massive scale saved us.

The Benghazi attack was a tragic mess, certainly. Whether Al-Qaida or locally fomented really does not matter. Attacks against Americans, particularly foreign service officers, have happened all over the world for decades. The endless drumbeat about Benghazi is a political noise. The Republicans certainly have not backed up the noise with more appropriations for the State Department, which admitted that it could not afford the level of protection it needs worldwide. In fact, the budget “sequester” delivered the opposite result.

Blame Obama? How about the Bush Administration screwup that let Sept. 11, 2001, happen? Benghazi was four American lives, about 2982 fewer than 9/11.

Finally, Mr. Sajbel alleges that the ACA is a “complete government takeover” of health care. It is no such thing. It is directed to promoting health insurance coverage for those who could not afford it under the old regime. The ACA relies completely on private insurance coverage – that is, from private for-profit insurance companies. And, as is well documented, the framework of the ACA is copy of a plan created by the Heritage Foundation, a Republican think tank. This plan was disavowed by Republicans only when Mr. Obama adopted it for the national health care overhaul.

Mr. Sajbel’s anti-Obama rant was just that. It is completely at odds with easily accessible facts. There are certainly reasons to be unhappy with some of Mr. Obama’s work. This writer is personally very disappointed that the misadventure in Afghanistan was not ended long ago. But, this administration, faults and all, is not the calamity for America that the anti-Obama zealots would have the rest of the country believe.

Joseph DelMaster

Fort Mill

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