I’m not sure I understand the political meaning of the oft-quoted phrase, “jammed it down our throats,” but for years I’ve kept hearing it. Best I can tell, it’s used by legislators who at some point lost a close, though nevertheless legitimate, vote to a majority of legislators on any particular issue.
For years now, I’ve listened to repeated accusations that President Obama’s health-care law, the Affordable Care Act, was “jammed down the throat” of the American people. The phrase is spoken with such vitriol that the implication is it’s an evil perpetrated against Americans, done illegally and intended to harm society.
Actually, I have yet to speak with anyone who can tell me, specifically, any actual problems with ACA. The only comment against it: “It’s bad legislation. It was jammed down our throats! ”
Not exactly. Democrats passed this law when they held the presidency and power over the House and Senate. These Democrats were legitimately elected. As such, they used their sway to pass a major legislative act they believe was truly for the benefit of the American people. Now the Republicans hold majorities of the Senate and House and the presidency. For years on the campaign trail Republicans have said their first order of business, if elected, was to repeal the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare as it’s derisively known).
I have never really understood the reason for repeal, other than Republicans resent Democrats’ use of their majority status to pass it. Curiously, whenever talk of repeal surfaces, immediate references are made to the “good parts” of the ACA that must be retained. And yet recently Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said ACA repeal is necessary because, again, the current law was “jammed down the throats” of the American people. Huh?
When Democrats passed the law in 2010, they held a 60-40 majority in the Senate. Now Republicans hold a narrower 52-48 majority in the Senate. In Cornyn’s view, Democratic passage of the law back then was “jamming it down the throats” of the people. Yet when Republicans exercise their own bare majority to overturn this or pass any other law on strict party lines, why is that not jamming legislation down the throats of the American people?
Sen. Cornyn also wants to retain popular parts of the law. So why not rework its weaker points and just retain what is acknowledged as beneficial? But, no. This would never do. The “jam-down-the-throat” crowd wants to continue to destabilize the American medical system by throwing millions of newly insured citizens back into their previously uninsured status. It’s obviously a politically inspired rejection of President Obama and payback to Democrats for having passed it in the first place. Ironically, Republicans are now keeping possible solutions a secret so, once again, we may not find out what’s in their health-care law till it’s passed. Sound familiar?
In fact, does any of this make sense? Not to me. I am a mere beneficiary of the ACA — and a loser if it’s repealed. Why would I think that John Cornyn or any of the other in the “jam-down-the-throat” crowd is interested in me and my personal disability and insurability?
After all, I voted for President Obama. If I end up on the losing end of the ACA, I must accept it not as a logical and wise decision but simply the consequence of Republican payback. If I lose my insurability, so be it. It may not be good for the people and the nation, but it’s good for the party base and what ails it.
Hal Ritter is a retired minister, counselor and educator.