Scandal, smandal, sign me up for Obamacare!

A rumor in Washington reports that President Obama has ordered the White House staff to spend no more than 10 percent of its time on the rash of scandals which, in sum, amount to a desperate Republican attempt to unseat a sitting president, recalling the shameful Gingrich impeachment campaign against President Clinton, to stop the president’s agenda – especially on health care.

I agree with the president’s directive, if it’s true. Here’s my 10 percent even though I’m hardly part of the the White House staff!

With regard to Benghazi, it’s a sideshow that’s going nowhere, except as bait to suck the U.S. into military intervention Syria – an unwise course Obama has so far held at bay.

No doubt there are political splits in the military, as the cuts imposed by both the budget and sequester process have already been painful for many projects – and their civilian contractors and employees.

In fact, one of the most underreported aspects of the entire budget and sequester debate – and now scandal reporting – is the multitude of vile, hurtful, racist, homophobic and false insults hurled at federal workers of every description, especially by tea party types. They have been treated as the butt of reactionary one-liners ever since Reagan, and they are not happy.

Which takes us to the IRS scandal. For the ordinary person, I think he or she must be absolutely stunned to learn that it took more than 10 minutes to determine that the tea party should NOT be given a tax exemption as a “social welfare,” “non-partisan” organization.

Now, it’s true that liberal and progressive – frankly political – organizations have taken advantage of the 501(c)(4) tax exempt provisions too, though not on the scale of the tea party.

But consider, if the tea party can be called non-political for tax purposes, what’s left of political organization and activity that  you can’t smuggle into tax-exempt status by one means or another? Why not just say political parties are also tax exempt? There is a vast disconnect between the public’s perception of “political” and the current IRS policy.

Obama needs to repair that disconnect. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision now enables anonymous corporations and billionaires to funnel unlimited political funds through supposedly “social welfare” organizations, completely perverting the original intent of the classification. Either eliminate the “political” loophole, or rewrite it to block its corruption. Personally, knowing more than a few government workers, there is no question in my mind that the attacks, freezes, insults, and defunding maneuvers from Congress against the IRS have taken a large toll on the morale of its workforce.

Lastly, on the issue of bugging the Associated Press, we have yet to hear the real reason for it. Until then, the administration is guilty until proven innocent of excessive use of the “war on terror” executive privilege.

But what are the scandals really about? They’re about Obamacare: they’re about about doing everything possible to either kill it, or slow it down until the Republicans get another chance at the White House. They know, they know, what will happen politically to the millions who get insurance for the first time under Obama. They remember, they remember, that FDR and Social Security, gave the Democrats supremacy in Congress for 30 years until that scab Reagan backstabbed the country on the behest of GE and Business Roundtable.

The House has passed bills 37 times repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Think of how much time is taken up JUST investigating scandals and repealing the ACA? Add to that reactionary forces in 18 states have tried to stop the expansion of Medicaid.

Since the anemic, but still positive, growth in recent months has begun to reduce the budget deficit, and since the Republicans themselves have had to start doing complete turnarounds on the sequester of services that affected them, they find themselves without the budget issue to nullify Congress. As a last (legal) resort, they are drawing from the despicable Gingrich playbook with a plan to waste enormous amounts of precious time needed to improve the economic recovery and reckon with the obvious truths emerging in climate change research.

Full enrollment in the ACA is, I submit, a game changer for labor, the progressive movement and the progressive majority, and for working-class security and empowerment – for all the reasons that the right fears it!

The National Employment Law Association reports that the ACA contains important protections against firing or discriminating against for workers who assert their right to health benefits. Under the act OSHA is assigned enforcement responsibility for reinstatement and back pay awards of workers who are fired or discriminated against for exercising their rights. In addition, there is a very important provision  in the law: Department of Labor sanctions against employers violating or evading the ACA cannot be enjoined or postponed by appeals to higher courts.

This would be a dramatic improvement of the National Labor Relations Board decisions on reinstatement — which can be postponed years through appeals. Furthermore, representation before OSHA or the Department of Labor proceedings do not require lawyers – rank-and-file activists can be trained to perform most representation activities.

So, as my 10 minutes are up, ignore the scandals. Organize everywhere to enroll the millions and millions into the ACA. Today!

Photo: / CC BY 2.0


John Case
John Case

John Case is a former electronics worker and union organizer with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE), also formerly a software developer, now host of the WSHC "Winners and Losers" radio program in Shepherdstown, W.Va.