One does not expect to find insightful, cogent, or fair commentary on the editorial pages of the New York Times. Banal liberalism, provincialism, and insulation from the beliefs of flyover America are standard fare and thus to be expected. But every once in a while, a piece comes along which is so utterly devoid of reason, taste, or linear thought that it deserves to be pointed out for special ridicule. Such is this piece by Timothy Egan which equates - and I am dead serious - opposing Obamacare with supporting slavery:
Before he was immortalized for saving the union, freeing the slaves and giving the best political speech in American history, Abraham Lincoln was just an unpopular new president handed a colossal crisis. Elected with 39.7 percent of the vote, Lincoln told a big lie in his inaugural address of 1861.
“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists,” he said, reaching out to the breakaway South. “I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
He was saying to a Confederacy that would enshrine owning another human being in its new constitution: If you like the slaves you’ve got now, you can keep them. It was a lie in the sense that Lincoln made a promise, changed by circumstances, that he broke less than two years later -- and probably never meant to keep.
The comparisons of President Obama to Lincoln fade with every day of the shrinking modern presidency. As for the broken-promise scale: Lincoln said an entire section of the country could continue to enslave more than one in three of its people. Obama wrongly assured about five million people that they could keep their bare-bones health plans if they liked them (later amended when it turned not to be true).
There's a lot to unpack in this particular bowl of word salad, including some questionable historical assertions about Lincoln's intent with respect to the South upon taking office, and the New York Times' continued use of bizarre Orwellian language to avoid calling Obama a liar. Lincoln, on the one hand, told a "big lie." Obama, on the other hand, "wrongly assured" people something that he "later amended" only after, due to circumstances completely beyond his control, "it turned out not to be true."
Whatever. Let us pass over these observations, as it has grown tireseome to repeatedly point out the same Battered Person Syndrome behavior on the part of the press when it comes to excusing Obama's most egregious behavior. Let us also pass over the fact that the last time a conservative tried to equate something with slavery (not even American slavery in particular, but slavery in the abstract), liberals responded by wishing that someone would defacate in her mouth. Let us instead unpack the deranged factual assertions now emanating from the fringe 31% of the country still defending Obamacare as a good idea:
As inapt as those comparisons are, what is distressingly similar today is how the South is once again committed to taking a backward path. By refusing to expand health care for the working poor through Medicaid, which is paid for by the federal government under Obamacare, most of the old Confederacy is committed to keeping millions of its own fellow citizens in poverty and poor health. They are dooming themselves, further, as the Left-Behind States.
And they are doing it out of spite. Elsewhere, the expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, has been one of the few success stories of Obamacare. It may be too complicated for the one-dimensional Beltway press. Either that, or it doesn’t fit the narrative of failure.
But in the states that have embraced a program that reaches out to low-wage workers, almost 500,000 people have signed up for health care in less than two months time. This is good for business, good for state taxpayers (because the federal government is subsidizing the expansion) and can do much to lessen the collateral damages of poverty, from crime to poor diets. In Kentucky, which has bravely tried to buck the retrograde tide, Medicaid expansion is projected to create 17,000 jobs. In Washington, the state predicts 10,000 new jobs and savings of $300 million in the first 18 months of expansion.
Several portions of the bolded sentences above should stick out as, shall we say, counterintuitive to persons of good common sense. In the first place, are not state taxpayers a subset of federal taxpayers? Does it, in the aggregate, actually save taxpayers money by taking 3 of their dollars in federal taxes to match every one of their dollars spent in state taxes? Maybe my math skills are rusty, but this assertion doesn't even make sense in the "the more you buy, the more you 'save'" way, because really, the more you buy with your state taxes, the (much) more you buy with your federal taxes.
Second, I'm unclear on how expanding a government healthcare entitlement program is alleged to have created 17,000 new jobs. Are all 17,000 of these people being put to work administering the Kentucky Medicaid program, perhaps? If so, it beggars the imagination to at the same time claim that the program is saving these purported hundreds of millions of dollars. Generally, one does not save gobs of money by spending gobs of money, at least in the way "save money" is conventionally defined. But who knows, maybe the people making the budgets for Kentucky and Washington have been reading too many Macy's catalogs or something.
Egan, sadly, is not done:
Beyond Medicaid, the states that have diligently tried to make the private health care exchanges work are putting their regions on a path that will make them far more livable, easing the burden of crippling, uninsured medical bills -- the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
Well, this is a nice thought, even if it is completely unsupported by facts. Perhaps the enlightened residents of Manhattan really will get the unicorns they have been promised. Egan's fantasy of a utopian liberal enclave is contrasted nicely with his fantasy of a dystopian South (most especially the evil and backwards Texas, which is headed for economic ruin any day now:
What we could see, 10 years from now, is a Mason-Dixon line of health care. One side (with exceptions for conservative Midwest and mountain states) would be the insured North, a place where health care coverage was affordable and available to most people. On the other side would be the uninsured South, where health care for the poor would amount to treating charity cases in hospital emergency rooms.
Texas, where one in four people have no health care and Gov. Rick Perry proudly resists extending the Medicaid helping hand to the working poor, would be the leading backwater in this Dixie of Despair.
I mean, why address the actual facts about the South, which show that states like Texas and Tennessee have some of the fastest growing economies in the country and are experiencing massive immigration from liberal enclaves like California and Illinois, whose infrastructrues are crumbling from liberal mismanagement and fiscal malfeasance? As long as you work for the New York Times, you can just make disparaging assertions about those backwater hicks who live anywhere south of Philadelphia without fear of contradiction.
And for an encore, you can even use Sarah Palin's own rhetoric, which was roundly criticized as absurd and false in your own publication, without any sense of irony:
The South, already the poorest region in the country, with all the attendant problems, would acquire another distinction -- a place where, if you were sick and earned just enough money that you didn’t qualify for traditional Medicare, you might face the current system’s version of a death panel.
Perhaps never before in history has such a massive expansion of government bureaucracy and largesse been met with such nearly universal rejection by the American people. Within the bubble occupied by editorial writers at the New York Times, this equation does not compute, and it has clearly caused what passes for their minds to become completely unhinged. As the Obamacare trainwreck rolls on, expect the screeching to get worse.