Living in Miami and having learned Spanish as a kid, I always enjoyed the city’s multilingual nature. I particularly enjoyed being able to understand my Cuban friends and those wonderful idiomatic expressions and jokes that, while hilarious in Spanish, made absolutely no sense in English.
Six years ago, we moved from Miami to South Carolina. While there is only one language to deal with here, there are dialects that are sometimes challenging for a “halfback” such as myself (started out in New England, went to Miami and ended up in Carolina — about halfway back). I may still root for the “Dawfins,” but I know what “sweetea” is, and I am extremely pleased to live in a place where mac & cheese is considered a vegetable.
Boston has its lobstah; New Yawkers love their lunchtime “slice” or a “regular” coffee. California has its surfer-laced lingo and valley-girl speak, but Texas may beat them all. Nowhere else in our great country is “I’ll tell you wha’” considered a complete sentence.
Over the years, my Texas friends have taught me a few of their favorite idiomatic expressions. Thinking about PPACA implementation, one expression in particular keeps coming to mind: “This thing is loose at both ends and swinging in the middle.”
It’s such a better way to describe the current state of affairs than Sen. Max Baucus’s recent “train wreck” analogy. Because in train wrecks, the cars eventually stop falling off the tracks.
Journalist and Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan captured the current environment perfectly: “Stories of inadequacies and flaws dribble out day by day. They produce a large negative blur, and a feeling of public anxiety: what will we find out tomorrow? The administration reacts, as the president has, with protestations about how every large, life-enhancing bill has hitches and bumps along the way. But this thing looks now like one large hitch and big and never-ending bump.”
Some of the hitches and bumps are more visible than others. In February, the administration (single handedly — no help from Congress) delayed part of the requirement that some plans cap employees’ out-of-pocket costs. This has just come to light, buried as it was under a metric ton of other regulatory refuse. This is a double-whammy for consumers. Renewals are in double digits, and now they learn they will have to dig deeper into their own pockets than they were promised.
This will burden one of PPACA’s professed key constituencies: those with chronic conditions or those who need expensive medications. Marc Boutin, executive vice president of the National Health Council, said, “There is an inconvenience for some, but for other people, this will mean life-altering differences in quality of life or death, if you have certain illnesses.”
The backlash begins?
As members of the American public begin to understand how the PPACA panacea is going to work in the world — the real world — they’re expressing disapproval. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll (July 2013) reflected that 47 percent believe the law was a bad idea. That level of dissatisfaction had not been seen since 2009, which was a year before Congress passed, and the president signed, the bill into law.
A lot has happened since then, of course. From the first outright cancelation of the 1099 Tax Reporting Mandate (in April 2011) to the July postponement of the employer mandate, a delay in random checks on employee income, and the suspension of tobacco-use penalties until 2015, there has been a laundry list of “bumps.” In the aggregate, these “hitches” have driven public opinion lower — and that is just over the summer.
According to an Aug. 9 Fox News poll, 57 percent believe the way the law was being rolled out was “a joke.” Looking at polling across a variety of sources (Fox News, Gallup, Rasmussen) the inescapable conclusion is that Americans are already disenchanted with this gargantuan law. Sixty-three percent of voters believe the law needs to be changed. That question alone has shown a 5 percent increase in a month. A recent Gallup poll indicated that Americans have a negative view about the law’s future impact on their family and their country.