Part 2—As judged by the global perspective: Will the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership—the TPP—succeed in “killing huge swaths of working-class and middle-class jobs?”
That’s what Rachel Maddow suggested, just one time, back in early May. But let’s face it! Within vast swaths of our own liberal tribe, we don’t seem to give a large hoot about such mundane concerns.
Dearest darlings! On our own corporate liberal news channel, the TPP has largely been ignored, except when it’s been used as a feel-good partisan toy. But that’s the way “economic issues” tend to get treated on our increasingly clownish channel.
Has the TPP been ignored? As a general matter, that’s also the way we liberals treat the various economic issues associated with American health care, including the Affordable Care Act—so-called Obamacare, AKA the ACA.
How little do we seem to care about the corporate looting which virtually defines our American health care? How little do we seem to care about the way these economic issues affect working-class people, of whom some of our hosts actually seem to have heard?
To answer those questions, let’s revisit what Chris Hayes said on his cable program last Friday night.
It’s important to note that Hayes’ remarks were perfectly accurate. On the other hand, his presentation might seem to reflect an orientation which one distinguished American statesman has called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
Let’s say it again—Hayes’ statements were perfectly accurate. He was correcting ridiculous statements by Judd Gregg, the former Republican senator from New Hampshire.
Hayes’ statements were perfectly accurate. They also help us make an instructive trip from the little-explored TPP to the little-explored ACA:
HAYES (7/10/15): There are some people who say that the Affordable Care Act, despite its design to cover more of the uninsured, actually isn’t doing that—that it’s failing at its chief mission.Everything said there is accurate. On the matter of insurance rates, Our Tribe was right and Their Tribe was wrong when Gregg made his silly remarks on Hayes’ program last month.
In fact, former senator from New Hampshire, Judd Gregg, was on this program a few weeks ago and we had an exchange on precisely that point.
Just a few minutes after that exchange, we pulled up this graph which is from Gallup, not Pew, and it’s a graph showing that the uninsured rate dropped to 11.9 percent in the first quarter of this year. You see that there, that sharp decline that some might even characterize as “plummeting.” That’s the data, the best data we have.
Well, today we got more data from the same folks at Gallup, who are the kind of gold standard of what the uninsured rate is. And you’ll never guess what’s happened after that. Between that show and now we’ve seen the uninsured rate drop to a new low, 11.4 percent in the second quarter of this year. And it’s dropping particularly among people of color and people of low income.
Now there are all sorts of ways to criticize Obamacare, and all sorts of ways you can say it’s not restraining costs, premiums might be going up. But the one thing it very clearly is doing is reducing the percentage of folks who are uninsured. So let’s please let’s drop that line of attack.
That said, we were somewhat unfavorably struck by Hayes’ presentation. We’re often struck that way by the similar statements we frequently see.
Hayes announced, with something like tribal pride, that the nation’s uninsured rate has hit a new low—11.4 percent.
Viewed from the global perspective, that number is horrifically bad. Viewed from the standpoint of recent history, it stands as a tribute to our striking political failures as liberals, progressives and Democrats.
“A new low of 11.4 percent?” Twenty-four years ago, the Democratic Party initiated a cycle in which it established “universal health coverage” as a basic goal.
Twenty-four years later, we’ve reduced the uninsured rate to 11.4 percent, a sick joke by international standards. But it doesn’t seem to enter our heads that an embarrassing number like that might represent our own tribe’s lack of political and cultural skill—that it might represent our own gross political failures, failures which help establish our country as the laughing-stock of the developed world.
Instead, we’re actually able to cite that number as a brief source of tribal pride! Meanwhile, consider what Hayes said about the way the uninsured rate is “dropping particularly among people of color and people of low income.”
Hayes was citing the most recent figures from Gallup—the figures shown below. These are the current uninsured rates among the groups in question:
Percentage of uninsured U.S. adults, spring 2015It’s certainly true. The uninsured rates among blacks, Hispanics and low-income people have declined by substantial amounts since the ACA took effect. You can check the previous rates in the Gallup figures.
Whites: 7.4 percent
Blacks: 12.0 percent
Hispanics: 29.1 percent
Income under $36,000: 20.8 percent
Theoretically, that represents significant improvement, depending on the type of coverage such people have received. (More on that tomorrow.) But according to Gallup, 29 percent of Hispanic adults are currently uninsured! So are 21 percent of adults with incomes under $36,000.
Judged on a global perspective, those numbers are astonishingly bad. They exist at the end of a 24-year cycle in which the Democratic Party established “universal coverage” as a basic political goal.
According to Gallup, 21 percent of low-income adults still lack health insurance! When you see this situation discussed at corporate liberal news orgs, as you occasionally will, you’re likely to see the discussion center on the refusal of red-state governors to agree to extend Medicaid as part of Obamacare.
That’s a perfectly sensible point to discuss. It’s also a source of tribal uplift, in which we the blues get to shake our heads about them the horrible reds.
On balance, though, we liberals hear little discussion about the high uninsured rate among working-class people, any more than we’re likely to hear extended discussion about that “huge swath of working-class jobs” the TPP was likely to kill. Truth to tell, there’s no giant sign that we care a whole lot about such topics, or even about Such People.
At our corporate liberal sites, we hear about the so-called “social issues” much more than we’re likely to hear about such economic issues. And at this point in our discussion, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the economic issues in our American health care which go undiscussed by Rachel and Chris and the rest of the upbeat gang who are increasingly being derided as the “Maddowsketeers.”
Last night, Rachel banged on her toy xylophone again as “Nick” paraded behind her. (She even teased the xylophone segment.) She spooned us barrels of tribal porridge about The Gaffes of Walker County.
Hayes did a much more informative show, as he typically does. It’s the Maddow show which has almost completely disintegrated over the course of this very peculiar year.
That said, even Hayes isn’t going to discuss the widespread looting which characterizes our health care system—a system which remains the undisguised plutocratic joke of the developed world. He won’t be spending much time on the problems with Obamacare, to which he correctly referred.
He won’t suggest that these massive problems could possibly reflect our own tribe’s political failures. Truth to tell, we liberals have extremely low expectations for ourselves.
What we have here, it seems to us, is a failure to communicate—a massive failure which often tracks to our own tribal behavior. Tomorrow, we’ll continue to note the types of things we aren’t likely to see discussed on our own corporate liberal programs, where the hosts keep banging on their toys as the looting of the nation goes undiscussed.
Tomorrow: What Zeke Emanuel said