Sunday, July 8, 2012

The big lie and low-information voters

As Inquirer political columnist Dick Polman so ably points out in today's paper, the Republicans are pushing a lie of colossal, world-class proportions when they claim that the Affordable Care Act is the "biggest tax on the Middle Class in American history." 
In fact, the penalty for not buying health insurance, according to Polman and the Congressional Budget Ofiice, will fall on only 1.2 percent of the public -- those who do not have employment-based insurance,  Medicare, Medicaid or some other government insurance program, like military or veterans' programs, and who are not too poor to pay for private coverage but just won't do it.
By the way, it's not a tax just because the Supreme Court upheld it as constitutional under Congress' taxing powers.  Literally tens of  thousands of fees, tax deductions, tax credits and other government-regulated financial arrangements are allowed under the taxing power that are not direct taxes.   These include the premiums that retired government employees pay for their government-run health insurance. 
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his spokesmen have already flip-flopped on the issue, saying first that he agreed with President Obama that the penalty for not buying insurance coverage is not a tax, then, buying into the party's propaganda, that it is.
Romney is a rather poor candidate to be attacking the ACA, as it is modeled on his own Massachusetts health care plan, which the vast majority of Massachusetts citizens are perfectly happy with.  Which explains why he never talks about his governorship. 
Romney's flip-flopping is not so concerning in the presidential race as three other factors:  (1) voter suppression, (2) the ocean of campaign financing money being raised much more successfully by Republicans than Democrats and (3) Republican TV commercials already saturating the national television markets proclaiming that the ACA is the "biggest tax on the Middle Class in American history."
Here in Pennsylvania, we learned last week that House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R. Allegheny)  boasted to a Republican group that Pennsylvania's new Voter ID law will guarantee Romney's win in Pennsylvania, then we learned that as many as 10 percent of the state's already legally registered voters could be disenfranchised, including upwards of 180,000 voters in Philadelphia.
It was nice of Turzai to finally be truthful about the purpose of the law -- to disenfranchise Democratic voters.  As many, many people have been pointing out for some time, voter fraud involving people trying to impersonate other people at the polls is, and has been, virtually non-existent, not only in this state but throughout the US.
Photo ID not so easy
Those that say, "Well, all people have to do is go down to the nearest PennDOT office and get a photo ID" are delusional.  It is way more complicated.
You have to have  or obtain a Social Security card.  I haven't seen mine in decades, probably since I obtained a new Pa. driver's license in 1991. Everybody knows their number, but many don't have their actual cards.
Step 2 is to have or obtain a birth certificate.  This is sometimes impossible for older people, people who were born at home and people who were born in places where records have been lost over time.  
Step 3 is to make sure your name harmonizes with all your records. If you have never used the name on your birth certificate or if you changed your name when you married, that creates more problems.
Step 4 is to get yourself and your papers to the DMV.  Then you have to request and fill out an affidavit swearing that you will be using the ID only for voting and that you can't afford to pay the $13 for it.  If you have had to pay for your birth certificate or the photo ID card, that's a poll tax plain and simple. 
Students have to have a college photo ID with an expiration date, which as of two months ago, 80 percent of Pennsylvania colleges did not issue.   Finally, if you are not already registered, you have to go do that. 
I can see a lot of students, poor and elderly saying,"Why bother.  I just won't vote."
If that was the goal of Gov. Tom Corbett, Rep. Turzai and Senate Majority Leader Dominick Pileggi,  congratulations, mission accomplished.  
Brainwashing the rest
So once you cull out the 800,000 or so mostly Democratic voters in Pennsylvania, you are still left with the job of making sure the remaining Democratic, independent and Republican voters are adequately subliminally conditioned to vote against their own economic interests and for those of the corporations.
That means running millions of dollars of "Big Lie" TV commercials at every opportunity.  We will not be able to mute or channel-surf away from these ads fast enough, and most people won't even try.  They'll just sit there and absorb the crap-- delivered in stentorian tones while bad photos of the opposing candidates are projected -- until viewers become convinced that whatever they are seeing was their opinion all along.
Many people will go out and vote who have been mesmerized by the ads and haven't bothered to research the facts or issues.   These are the so-called "low-information voters" who -- in enough numbers -- can decide the economic future of generations.
One Tea Party" acquaintance sends me gushing emails talking about how handsome Romney is and how much she loves him, with many multiple exclamation points, even while her own economic and health coverage circumstances are desperate.  But she tells me, she opposes ACA because it might end up covering illegal immigrants.  So much better to deny health care to millions than to let a single undeserving person get away with anything. 
Unfortunately, this woman has a PA driver's license so she will get to vote.  

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