Here we go go go again

Thanks to Kay for bringing this up yesterday.

Republicans believe healthcare reform spells doom for the federal budget, private businesses and the U.S. healthcare system. They’re also enormously frustrated that the law has persevered through two elections and a Supreme Court challenge and believe a botched implementation could help build momentum for the repeal movement.

Some Republicans indicated to The Hill they will not assist constituents in navigating the law and obtaining benefits. Others said they would tell people to call the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

That does sound like an awkward position. On the one hand these guys hate Obama and want his achievements to fail, but on the other they have a certain obligation to help constituents navigate a law that they cannot make go away no matter how many times they swing their wiffle bats at it.

The GOP wants to tease this apart like some abstract problem in game theory, but it is not a game. Lack of coverage causes people to die in pain. Medical bankruptcies destroy families (there is that word again…) and cause a huge fraction of the mortgage foreclosures that are still dragging the American economy down. Poor Americans get enough punishment without having their health and livelihood jerked around by liars and bullshit artists.

As you can tell, this really pisses me off. Feel the same way? Let’s do something about it. It sounds like a big job to keep track of the how each GOP Rep dicks around his or her constituents, but there are a lot of you. I need to know how many of you live in GOP districts. Have a question about the ACA? Phone it in and then let us know what you hear. It will help if you have an real need that they could theoretically help with and you live in the district; Reps have no obligation to help others’ constituents.

Next we would need an accurate list of the real answers to these questions, preferably in plain language and specific to each state. If anyone can cite a good one in the comments I will link it in subsequent posts.

A Rep can only go a couple of ways with this. One, he or she could just try to help the constituent out. People who do their job like a grownup deserve to be noted and encouraged for it. Forwarding the caller to HHS or shrugging their shoulders both count as a non-response, in which case constituents deserve to know that their Rep either cannot or will not do his or her basic job. Outright liars, well, that is another story. I would not expect to find many Reps with the balls to openly sacrifice a specific constituents’ health and well being for a political point*, but we live in a different era now. Plenty of these nuts believe every word of their morning propaganda sheet. That sort of behavior deserves to be a story at least in the local media.

Does that sound like a plan? Is anyone in? Let me know what you think in the comments.

(*) Collective sacrifice, such as denying the Medicaid expansion, is ok for the same reason that insanely dangerous abortion bills sell better than intervening in the personal matters of of Michael and Terri Schiavo.

46 replies
  1. 1
    John Dillinger says:

    Sounds like OFA needs to start a web site tracking Congressional office constituent service dickishness. May come in handy come election time.

  2. 2
    Jerzy Russian says:

    Thankfully I am in a Dem district. Also the State of California is doing a relatively good job getting ready for ACA.

  3. 3
    Shakezula says:

    I’d love to help but if my state were any bluer we’d be ultraviolet. However…

    It will help if you have an real need that they could theoretically help with and you live in the district; Reps have no obligation to help others’ constituents.

    Point of order: I know what you’re saying but wanting the answer to a question is a “real need.” There is no theoretical about the rep’s ability to help you here.

    Another suggestion: If you own a business, ask about those portions of the ACA that impact employers. Surely a Republican wouldn’t hesitate to help a job creator.

  4. 4
    Amir Khalid says:

    Yet, Republicans believe healthcare reform spells doom for the federal budget, private businesses and the U.S. healthcare system. They’re also enormously frustrated that the law has persevered through two elections and a Supreme Court challenge and believe a botched implementation could help build momentum for the repeal movement.

    If Obamacare fails because the Republican House caucus worked against its implementation, that’s not a botched job; that’s sabotage. In that event, the Democratic party has a duty to make sure the American public knows precisely who chucked the sabot into the works, and their motive: betraying the public interest for partisan political advantage.

  5. 5
    Tim F. says:

    @John Dillinger: That is what I am doing here.

  6. 6
    mouse tolliver says:

    I can’t believe the shit I’m watching right now. George Zimmerman’s defense team opens with a knock knock joke. I’m not kidding. Before that his lawyer got smacked down for going off on some tangeant about stuff his mom used to tell him. They got nothing.

  7. 7
    Steve in the ATL says:

    I look forward to discussing this with my rep, Dr. Tom Price….

  8. 8
    Tokyokie says:

    @Shakezula: I have a so-called “moderate” GOP representative. (“Moderate” Republicans these days, I think, are those who vote for right-wing proposals even though they know they suck damp ass because they fear the consequences of doing otherwise.) I also have no health insurance and a pre-existing conditioin, so I can run my tale of woe past my Congress critter. You want just House, or Senate as well?

  9. 9
    Tim F. says:

    @Tokyokie: Sorry to hear about your vulnerable health status, but excellent. Call them both.

  10. 10
    Tokyokie says:

    @Tim F.: Will do, although as I recall, the last time I tried calling Ted Cruz’s office, his voicemail box was already full, and I suspect that he keeps it that way.

  11. 11
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Some Republicans indicated to The Hill they will not assist constituents in navigating the law and obtaining benefits.

    They hastened to add, however, that they will continue to assist their constituents in, and by, screwing the last bits of progressivity out of the tax code and regulating their sex lives.

  12. 12
    PeakVT says:

    OT: Can we get a SCOTUS thread in a bit? The big cases look to have been put off until tomorrow, but there are still rulings people might want to weigh in on.

  13. 13
    rikyrah says:

    If you would like to follow the George Zimmerman Trial:

    http://3chicspolitico.com/2013.....zimmerman/

  14. 14
    4tehlulz says:

    @mouse tolliver: Obvious tank job to set up an incompetent defense appeal.

  15. 15
    Halcyon says:

    Usually a lurker here, but sure, if it’s activity time I live in red Georgia, and I’m in. Happy to help out, especially if you have specific questions. I’m still one of the younger ones, so I don’t have any health-care horror stories I actually need help with currently, but as someone pointed out upthread requiring information about the law *is* a need. It would help immensely if you could give specifics, though.

  16. 16
    Shakezula says:

    @Tokyokie: Send them letters with delivery confirmation. It will take a while for the letters to work their way through the security check, but once it is delivered you can keep track of the days that pass without a reply.

    Edit: Contrary to what I initially thought, it is now my understanding that a post card doesn’t get through any quicker than an envelope.

  17. 17
    El Caganer says:

    @Amir Khalid: This has always been the one thing that I thought could completely disrupt ACA. After all of the debate about whether it will/won’t provide a real expansion of coverage, I don’t think we’re going to find out, because the Republicans are so bent on derailing it. I don’t think a Republican congresscritter would have any trouble at all telling a constituent that he/she would love to help, but, doggone it, ACA is just too complicated and confusing and maybe it’s better if you go directly to the people who are specifically charged with advising the public about it.

  18. 18
    Tim F. says:

    @Halcyon: Thanks for checking in. The best questions to ask are things that you personally might need: how do I sign up for the exchanges in my state? What will happen to my insurance through work? Is it a problem if I have a pre-existing condition?

    Hell, I do not know the answer to a lot of these things. That is why I asked someone to link to an informational site somewhere. If nobody delivers soon I will have to google it.

  19. 19
    Citizen_X says:

    I will note that, whether Republican or Democrat, Reps and Senators & their staffs ought to be given an attaboy/girl for giving helpful guidance, OR be given a black mark for shrugging or half-assing an answer due to their ignorance.

    IOW, we should be holding Dems accountable (& praising the good ones) too. This constituent service is part of the job description.

  20. 20
    bcinaz says:

    @John Dillinger: More than just track childishness, OFA can recruit Dem Congresspeople (House and Senate) to assist anyone seeking help navigating the law. This strategy can be partisan and useful. In states that did not enact the Medicaid expansion, outreach can be a voter turnout tool and vote getting strategy. I don’t see how Republicans deny affordable healthcare to their constituents and win.

  21. 21
    Persia says:

    @bcinaz:

    I don’t see how Republicans deny affordable healthcare to their constituents and win.

    Yeah, I’m pretty skeptical about this myself. It’s one thing to stand up to Big Government, it’s another to tell actual constituents to fuck off.

  22. 22
    Chat Noir says:

    I don’t live in Michigan anymore but I’m still on Carl Levin’s email distro list. I received an email over the weekend that said the senator “recently added a section to [his] website aimed at providing information to help you better understand the new healthcare reform law and how it can help you and your family.”

    The link is here.

  23. 23
    Bokonon says:

    I live in a Republican congressional district. And this “heh heh – dump them off on the HSS” stuff would be an improvement over the way my Congressman and his staff handle constituent calls about issues or positions that they don’t like.

    During phone calls, if my Congressman’s staff doesn’t like what you are calling about or asking about, they will speak right over you with a set of talking points or hang up the phone.

    When you send them e-mails, the staff will often not respond (silence is its own message). Or they will respond back, but they will send a brutal set of GOP leadership-approved talking points full of ideological jabs and partisan attacks. Bonus if you can throw in a brave statement from Eric Cantor or a supporting quote from Fox News.

    So the bottom line of this rudeness and disengagement and slapdowns is that if you are a constituent in this Congressman’s district, and you don’t agree with the Congressman’s ideology, or share the existing GOP party line … you have disqualified yourself as a constituent. You aren’t getting listened to, and you don’t have a voice. You are occupied territory. You don’t have representation.

  24. 24
    p.a. says:

    Check out Kaiser Family Foundation website for FAQ and more, then see what your rep. says.

  25. 25
    cvstoner says:

    Most GOP districts elected their representatives to help keep the “gubmint’s dirty hands off their health care”, and everything bad that happens will be blamed on Obamacare, not obstructionist Republicans. Not sure how much is going to change.

  26. 26
    Eric U. says:

    @Bokonon: my experience with republicans is similar. I used to get letters that basically said, “thanks for agreeing with congressman dingus’ position” — which I didn’t. They just had stacks of letters about a particular subject and sent the same ones no matter what. I’m sure they found it amusing to mischaracterize my position on the topic.

  27. 27
    Bokonon says:

    @Eric U.: yup. I get particularly mad about the whole thing, because I used to work on Capitol Hill … answering those constituent phone calls and letters for a US Senator, and crafting those exact sorts of responses. Back then, rudeness and snark was unacceptable. Heck, these were CONSTITUENTS! They vote! You didn’t dare treat them like that. You would have been fired for being disrespectful.

    These days, when politicians ignore their consituents or backhand them for speaking up, or tell them that they are ignorant, wrong, and badly informed? It is dealing out a dose of attack politics against your own voters. It reveals deep disrespect, and arrogrance, and a disturbing lack of concern about political accountability. And it just smacks of the GOP’s closed system of thought.

  28. 28
    currants says:

    @Tim F.: http://kff.org/health-reform/ Excellent info at this site.
    http://kff.org/health-reform/f.....eform-law/

    And…I’m sure someone else has already posted it.

  29. 29
    currants says:

    @currants:
    Sorry, that second link should have been this one, to the FAQ section.

  30. 30
    Ethics Gradient says:

    Could this be an opportunity for a sort of shadow government exercise, where enterprising potential or actual Dem opponents set up their own constituent services?

    Unfortunately I despair of the actual existence of enterprising Dem politicians in too many cases

  31. 31
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Bokonon: There are Americans. And there are Democrats. That’s their world.

    Welcome to the cold civil war. No shooting, but two countries.

  32. 32
    mds says:

    On the one hand these guys hate Obama and want his achievements to fail, but on the other they have a certain obligation to help constituents…

    Ah-HA-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa.

    If you’re someone who needs help with obtaining affordable health insurance, you should have the decency to fuck off and die under a bridge as Jeebus intended, rather than bothering your member of Congress with your greedy mooching demands. If that upsets you, well, it’s all Obama’s fault anyway, just like the tornadoes in Oklahoma.

  33. 33
    Warren Terra says:

    They’re dicks and psychopaths, but they like getting elected and by and large they’re only self-destructive idiots when they’re in front of a camera. So, no, they’re not going to receive sob stories from their constituents and then be like “Sucks to be you! Loser!”. They will help their constituents get their ACA benefits, all the while telling them that it was only their wonderful help that could possible have navigated the treacherous Federal Gummint for them, and that they deserved the help while all those Democrats were lazy sucklers on the Federal teat.

  34. 34

    Is the post title a line from the end of “Here We Go Again”?

  35. 35
    Eljai says:

    I live in a blue state, but I have family in Missouri and Kansas and they’d be on board with this. I’ll see what kind of responses they get.

  36. 36
    VividBlueDotty says:

    I live in Kenny Marchant’s district in Texas. I am curious to know how his office will respond. I have emailed him about a couple of issues over the past 10 or so years. I always get a reply, reiterating the GOP talking points and written as if I agreed with that position (which I absolutely did not.)

    I know we are supposed to ask a real question as it relates to us, but I really need something that will make someone have to DO something for me. Any ideas? I recently picked up voluntary and fully paid (by ME) health insurance at my contract job, at a rate of nearly $100 a WEEK. I don’t think there’s any point in asking about exchanges in TEXAS (LOL). If someone has ideas/tips, plese post ’em. And I’m bailing the thread for a few hours (at work) but will check back tonight. navigating?

  37. 37
    aretino says:

    @reflectionephemeral: I was hoping it was a reference to Amadou and Mariam’s Dougou Badia.

  38. 38
    Marmot says:

    I’d like to help. I’m in Michael McCaul’s district.

    So, I luckily got insurance through my employer in the nick of time, otherwise I’d ask how to get it. What’s left to ask?

    I’d like it to be a genuine question, but under ACA, I recall my plan basically stays the same.

  39. 39
    JGabriel says:

    Shakezula:

    I’d love to help but if my state were any bluer we’d be ultraviolet.

    Same here. The biggest contest in my district is whether the Democrat will get more votes on the Democratic Party line or the Working Families Party line.

  40. 40
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @VividBlueDotty: The feds will run the exchange for Texas…. How Can I Get Ready To Enroll In The Marketplace.

    If you make between 1 and 4 times the federal poverty level, and spend more than 9.5% of your income on premiums, you’re potentially eligible for subsidized coverage…..

  41. 41
    drkrick says:

    I strongly endorse this strategy. There is no surer way to ensure a failed reelection campaign than to get a reputation for bad constituent service. Lots of people will vote for an incumbent -even one that they disagree with on policy – for years if they were well taken care of when they needed help. Monkeywrench away, Republicans.

  42. 42
    VividBlueDotty says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Thanks! Not sure I will fit these criteria, but I did want to help with Tim’s suggestion to ask our congresscritters and share. I agree with the premise that making it a constituent services issue could help turn some potentially “former” Republicans.

  43. 43
    Jebediah says:

    @drkrick:

    There is no surer way to ensure a failed reelection campaign than to get a reputation for bad constituent service.

    Maybe the people who get ignored or treated rudely could write a letter to the editor detailing their experience. I understand some people still read newspapers. (I assume this is what tim meant up top about it being ” a story in the local media.”)

  44. 44

    I’d be happy to help, but I’m one of the lucky ones. I live in a Democratic district. I do hope that others who have the bad luck to have Republicans representing them will take this task on.

  45. 45
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    I live in MO’s 8th district now represented by a particularly useless dlck named Jason Smith, also we have Senator Roy Blunt who is not very sharp. So, will do.

  46. 46
    Emmy Lou says:

    @Tim F.: there’s also getcoveredamerica.org. My city also has a local ACA how-to, so ask your city council people.

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