One could imagine Louie Gohmert getting away with this back when medicine shows toured by wagon wheel and information traveled at the speed of horses’ hooves.
Surely, however, not now when information travels at the speed of — the Internet, for gosh sakes.
There he was, however, on multiple televised occasions, saying that under the Affordable Care Act, “the poor guy making $14,000” is “going to pay extra income tax” if he cannot afford health coverage.
The Republican congressman said it on ABC’s “This Week.” He said it to Fox News’ Sean Hannity. And it’s total bunk.
In fact, the working-poor individual Gohmert describes would be eligible for free health coverage — Medicaid — in the states that have expanded the coverage.
In those like Gohmert’s Texas that foolishly haven’t expanded Medicaid, the man Gohmert describes would be eligible for significant subsidies to pay for insurance. Even then, one who couldn’t afford it would could get a hardship exemption.
Don’t believe this? Check Factcheck.org. Just pinch your nostrils and search “Gohmert.”
Meanwhile, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is on a medicine show tour telling people that the advent of national health coverage is dragging down the economy.
Well, let’s see. Here’s what Time magazine says: “The U.S. is making a surprisingly strong comeback,” calling it “the great untold story of 2013.”
Now, don’t anybody tell Sen. Cruz. How would he know that the Federal Reserve Board’s 2014 forecast is for 3 percent to 3.5 percent growth, with the attendant jobs and higher incomes?
The improved economy isn’t just manifested in the bullish stock market. It’s also in the housing market, and, oh, yes, in declining federal deficits.
And, guess what? The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the health care reforms will reduce the deficit further. Additionally, as Cruz championed defunding the plan, the CBO said that doing so would drive up the deficit.
How would the law pay for itself and more? Through tax hikes for high-end health plans, penalties for those who ignore the individual mandate, sliding-scale premiums for those who enroll, and reforms that will cut spending on Medicare.
Now we return to Gohmert’s claims about poor people’s paying more. If he understood the law he assails, and if he were true to his tea party creds, he actually would assail as well the poor guy who stands to get federal health coverage under this plan. Oh, my. String up that freeloader.
However, those very people who stand to benefit from Medicaid expansion are in limbo in 19 states that refuse to play along. Even Republican-controlled states like Arizona and Florida saw the futility of waging ideological war when thousands of their citizens would receive health coverage. They will expand Medicaid.
The fact is, even in states like Texas that have refused even to facilitate the health exchanges by which the working poor can shop for low-cost, subsidized health insurance, the “poor guy” Gohmert mentions will benefit immensely.
Starting Oct. 1, that individual can buy a qualified health plan under the law. To do so, rather than having to pay more in income tax, he would receive a significant tax credit.
All told, the guy making $14,000 a year can expect to have health coverage for almost nothing — $280 a year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Scream about that, Congressman Gohmert. It’s something for nothing — except working one’s tail off at a minimum wage, that is.
So even in states governed by the types whose alternative to “Obamacare” is “NoCare” “and “IDon’tCare,” the Affordable Care Act is going to help the little guy. What a charade it is from the Louie Gohmerts and Ted Cruzes of this land to say they are on that man’s side.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.