Road tripping reveries

By Art De Jong for the Republican Party of Sheboygan County

While taking an autumn road trip from Sheboygan to Wyoming, my wife and I were again moved by the breathtaking size of this country. As we drove through the broad valleys between peaks white with new fallen snow, we turned on the radio to pass the miles. The airwaves were alive with outrage, and we had a ringside seat.

The public suddenly had realized that they faced a deadline to sign up for health insurance. If millions of people didn’t buy health insurance at a malfunctioning government website, they would be subject to a monetary penalty. It got worse. Although they were used to a dizzying array of choices everywhere else, here they were limited to a few government approved plans. Single men found that they had to buy maternity coverage, women had to pay for Viagra, Catholics for abortion coverage, and young people had to subsidize oldster’s knee replacements.

Radio call-in shows were amping up. “How can they force us to give private information to some ‘glitchy’ website just to get an insurance quote?” callers demanded. “Who gave billions of my dollars to some third rate, foreign tech company just to make a website to replace my local insurance agent?” others asked. “They have no shame to pass a lousy bill then exempt themselves,” others snarled.

Amazon shoppers called in asking how people who couldn’t roll out a simple shopping website could be trusted to manage the health care of more than 300 million people. Veterans called in with horror stories about government VA hospitals. Canadians, who relied on US medical research and emergency medical care, chimed in.

By the time we rolled into Nebraska where I-80 parallels the Platte River bordered by amber trees and yellow fields, millions of people had received cancellation notices and others saw their premiums and co-pays doubling and tripling to meet the new government demands. Every talk show host in the country seemed to be replaying the president’s soothing lies; “If you like your coverage, you can keep it. Period!” “You will be able to save $2500 for a lot better policy. . . .”

By then callers were speculating that it was so bad that it had to be an attempt to melt down the entire interconnected network of private insurance, health care providers, and researcher establishments to prepare the way for some demented government run utopia.

Democrat senators simply laid low, relying on the public’s wellknown short attention span. The president tried to change the subject to “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Although every Republican lawmaker had voted against this “affordable” law, talk show hosts hauled them on the carpet to explain why they, like incompetent babysitters, had been unable to keep the Democrats from trashing one sixth of the economy while the citizens were out partying. Callers and hosts alike seemed to have forgotten the dozens of house bills to derail the disaster and Ted Cruz’s doomed attempt to defund it.

By the next day, as we rolled into Iowa where the cattle chewed contentedly on the stubble of this year’s bumper corn crop, people who had decided to blow off the whole sorry mess were realizing that if they did, they would be at the mercy of their least favorite agency, Obamacare’s enforcers, the IRS. They had no illusions about IRS courts where everybody is guilty unless proven innocent. If the IRS had no trouble jamming up the president’s tea party opponents in the last election, it could certainly take on health insurance scofflaws like them.

“This can’t be happening in America,” I said as I switched to Iowa Public Radio for relief. Here the commentators burbled happily about a tunnel under the Bosporus in Turkey and about the Syrian government’s promises to dump its chemical weapons stockpiles. Then they shifted to their lead story about hard-hearted Republicans trying to starve children by cutting the food stamp program out of the farm bill, the same comforting stories.

After that, the NPR commentators smoothly transitioned to an interview with one of Bernie Madoff’s biographers. Madoff had been sentenced to life in prison after lying to his investors, creating a huge ponzi scheme, and squandering other people’s money. He was a truly despicable human being who had perpetrated “the biggest fraud in American history,” the guest explained.

“I doubt it,” I muttered as I switched off the radio, worried about what we would find in our mail from our insurance company when we returned to Wisconsin.

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