Obamacare Needs Clinton’s Reforms

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies

To the Editors:

As decent as Barack Obama was, most white Americans did not vote for him even though they had two chances — first in 2008 and again in 2012. The reason that they did not vote for the first black president was, arguably, possibly due more to their disagreement with his policies than with the fact that he was black.

Hillary Clinton, the first female to be a major party’s top nominee for the presidency, may get close to 90 percent of the black vote. Her policies are much closer to Obama’s than to Donald Trump’s. But they are quite different. On the one hand, she definitely intends to support the concept of Obamacare, that rather unbelievable notion that all Americans should have access to good medical care regardless of income. But she will change it significantly, and those changes will make the Affordable Care Act a lot better.

It would be cruel and unusual punishment inflicted upon those 20 million covered under the Affordable Care Act to take away their medical insurance, returning the country to 45 million uninsured fellow citizens. Clinton is deeply committed to expanding subsidies to offset rising premium costs, and she will strain every nerve to get the other 25 million the insurance coverage they desperately need.

Obamacare was never thought of as or intended to be a perfect, more than 1,000-page document. Instead, it is a first serious attempt to heal our nation of the ugly scars of a shameful past, during which times it was acceptable to subjugate many so that a few could grow wealthier and more powerful. Though she worked tirelessly during President Bill Clinton’s first term to get medical care for all Americans, Hillary Clinton came up short. She’s wiser and more determined than ever to see that Obamacare undergoes all the modifications, improvements and revisions to make it the crowning success of a united and caring nation.

Trump, on the other hand, will surely destroy Obamacare. But he has not spelled out exactly what the replacement will be, if anything. He contents himself by saying that he will repeal and replace Obamacare, not with another 1,000-page program, guaranteeing that all the good parts of the current plan will remain intact with the much-needed improvements but possibly with the same void that previously existed, with those 45 million left out in the cold.

Obamacare has some obvious problems, but most Americans know that it is far better than what existed previously. Clinton will never throw the baby out with the bathwater, but Trump has made it clear that he will do just that.

Trump will have to struggle just to get 15 percent of the black vote. This is due almost entirely to the fact that blacks do not believe his policies will help them, and most experts agree. Clinton has to continue to make the case that blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, angry white middle-aged males and others have numerous common strands that should unite them around her policies, not his.

She’s devoted her entire life seeking to improve the lot of poor people while Trump has spent his life making billions. Admittedly, Clinton is rich, though she might be worth no more than $20 million. But Trump, if we accept his self-proclaimed worth of $10 billion, is 500 times richer than she. Neither may understand the pain the poor have. But Clinton, once middle class, is probably 500 times closer to understanding it than Trump, who was born a millionaire and is now a multibillionaire seized by a paroxysm of self-importance to become the world’s first, unheard-of trillionaire at the expense of our great nation. Celebrate this day.

– Booker C. Peek
Emeritus Professor of Africana Studies