A while back, The Augusta Chronicle’s Opinion section featured two guest columns from the Heritage Foundation. The columns had valid points reinforced with statistics (coming from Heritage Foundation economists and indices, which is like ExxonMobil quoting its own climatologists). One column outlined the Affordable Care Act’s undesirable consequences, including rising costs and reduced competition in exchanges from insurer withdrawal.
Enough people agree something had to be done. For those with pre-existing conditions, for families who were having to choose between bankruptcy or forgoing medical care for a loved one, the ACA helped. It allowed parents to include kids on their policies longer. It gave young adults the freedom to maintain insurance independently of their employer. I could’ve used affordable coverage in my early 20s, when changing jobs meant changing doctors and freelancing offered no benefits.
Parts of the law save money, encouraging patient screenings and early medical interventions to avoid costlier emergency-room visits. It comes with a price: Enough healthy people have to buy in to make it work (the ACA needs you, millennials!). The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation predicted premiums will skyrocket, and 18 million could lose health care if there’s a repeal and no replacement. Nonpartisan and bipartisan consensus is as unbiased as we’ll get.
Another Heritage opinion covered President Obama’s farewell statements. Some points were fair: Obama added 84 percent to the national debt. But his predecessor added 101 percent plus two unfunded wars. Reagan added 186 percent while FDR added 1,048 percent (www.thebalance.com). Enough time has passed for us to appreciate and assess their executive decisions.
Today, job growth is trending upwards. Ppolicies and regulations were put in place to protect people and the environment. Our country has been operating at a deficit since 2002, and that’s for both parties to address (www.usgovernmentspending.com).
History will separate the truth from the chaff, but we can’t wait to read about our time in history. We need to be active and informed now. It’s an increasingly arduous task to understand the full implications of relevant issues. A financial advisor would tell you to diversify your portfolio, and never blindly trust one source. Same goes for information intake. It’s foolish to think one news outlet, paper, or Web site will give us everything we need every time, even if the source states otherwise, even if it’s a good source. They won’t get it wrong every time either. It’s more work on us as citizens, but the alternative takes us deeper down a polarized path.
Adhering to isolated silos of information hampers our ability to have constructively critical conversations on substantive matters; it feeds problems where there are none; it pits “us” against “them.” When so many of our legitimate problems are connected, we must work together if we’re going to seek smart, lasting solutions. We have to get back to measured conversations and away from social media platforms that too quickly turn a phrase toxic and misconstrue meaning. I’d advise the 45th president to step away from Twitter. It’s for brevity or promoting a cool band or a food truck, not implementing policy.
Stephen Ambrose described our forefathers in his book Undaunted Courage as “Men of the Enlightenment, well-educated, intensely curious, and readers, pursuers of new knowledge … especially about natural history and geography. They were politically active, thoughtful about matters of government, full of insight into the human condition … witty conversationalists, quick with a quip, full of hearty laughter, even when the joke was on them …”
It won’t matter how big political cartoonists depicted the 44th president’s ears, or how much they coif up the 45th president’s hair. Our leaders will be evaluated not on appearances, but on actions. Obama had a good sense of humor. He demonstrated poise, inspiring rhetoric and – even in the face of unmistakable disrespect – dignity and grace. There were flaws and missteps, but the First Family gave dreams to dreamers.
Let’s emulate the positive attributes of those who gave us frameworks to grow into the greatest nation we can be. Let’s be boldly confident, but bolster it with kindness, integrity, a spirit of service and a zealous focus on the issues with facts to back them up.
Let’s not permit our attention to be deflected by personal attacks or resort to such tactics ourselves.We have concerns and uncertainty, but we won’t let fear override our passion for justice and our love of liberty.
(The writer is an educator. She lives in Evans.)