Writing Project for October 14

Blog #2: Obamacare and the Federal Government Shutdown

Making an argument out of two sources that have been chosen for you is touchy, especially when the project concerns a subject as political as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its related shutdown of the federal government.  The two articles, Ramesh Ponnuru’s “The Republicans Fighting Obamacare Aren’t Crazy,” and Harry J. Enten’s “The US Healthcare Paradox: We Like the Affordable Care Act but Fear Obamacare,” are not as clear on their respective ends of the Obamacare polarity as my assignment called for, the authors are on separate planes in the writing field, and the only data present was a bunch of poll results, which is not exactly the hardest data available to writers.  Nevertheless, the similarities, differences, and textual idiosyncrasies are there between the articles, and I was finally able to construct a thesis.  Enten argues that the citizens’ suspicion of the ACA is due to a lack of understanding of the law, but Ponnuru insists that such skepticism is not uncalled for and that House Republicans’ opposition to the ACA is legitimate.

Even though Enten’s article contained a chart, a picture, and numbered sections, these did not add up to an exceptional piece of writing.  In fact, right away in the first paragraph, the author included himself in the realm of Americans with a deficit in knowledge about the ACA  (Enten, “The US Healthcare Paradox”) .  Enten’s title grabbed my attention right away, and I looked forward to watching him unravel some intellectual difference between the ACA and its image as Obamacare, but alas, the body of the article was curiously disorganized and lacking in developing that point.  The most informative part of the article was the delineation of five ways in which the American public’s opinion on Obamacare has allegedly changed (or not changed) within the past year.  The five bullet points were, in summary, 1. The public opinion on Obamacare has grown more negative, 2. The Obamacare vs. ACA image difference still exists, to some degree, 3. Some Americans think the ACA law is not liberal enough, 4. The provisions continue to be liked, but the mandate to join it is not, and 5. Americans still don’t understand Obamacare.  One can’t help but be skeptical of all the percentages used in this section, since political polls are just so…well, political.  Some of them are not even concrete at all, such as this one in number 4: “Over 55%, and up to 88%, of Americans regard [certain] facets of Obamacare at least somewhat favorably… “ (Enten, “The US Healthcare Paradox”) .  However, if the data is true, we can conclude that Americans are confused on this controversial law and skeptical as to if and how it will benefit them.  In his conclusion, Enten essentially admitted that the data is not sufficient to make any definitive statements about the citizens’ opinion, made a peculiar parallel between the ACA and a Colorado gun control law, and stated that the ACA’s nickname, coined for a positive connection to the president, has been adopted by the American people with quite the opposite of endearment.

            “The Republicans Fighting Obamacare Aren’t Crazy” doesn’t come across as one of Ponnuru’s best writings, but with careful analysis and creative processing by the reader, this article may actually enlighten both Democrats and Republicans and those who are satisfied with neither of the parties.  Ponnuru criticized both sides of the Obamacare debate in a clear yet remarkably tactful manner, yet his apparent goal was not to endorse or oppose the law but to defend the freedom to oppose it even a year after the law was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court.  Instead of polls and charts, Ponnuru used quotes, mostly indirect, to support his argument.  He emphasized the power and freedom of states and said that “Most of what the law’s supporters call “sabotage” is perfectly legitimate political action” (Ponnuru, “Republicans Fighting Obamacare”) .  Obamacare’s supporters often propose that Republicans should revise the ACA rather than repeal it, but the author rejected that, because there is no conservative direction that the ACA can take without losing its character altogether (and therefore being essentially scrapped).  A few conservatives have proposed deregulating Obamacare’s exchanges, but enforcing the law itself requires very heavy regulation.  In conclusion, Ponnuru points out how the liberals kept striving over decades in the private system to get their nationalized healthcare law passed, thus conservatives in all fairness have the same right to actively oppose it after its ratification.

The most striking similarity between the articles of Enten and Ponnuru was the repeated reference to the Republicans as the all-inclusive unit that opposes Obamacare.  Also, neither of the writers is happy about the federal government shutdown.  Their writing styles are entirely different, which is understandable since Enten is a young blogger from Dartmouth and Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review with a high-profile writing career.  Interestingly, though, while Enten criticized the American public’s lack of Obamacare literacy, Ponnuru took up that case by sharing less-confused opinions about the law as well as principles of the law itself, all the while making a different argument.  In that sense, these two articles did go well together after all.

Works Cited

Enten, Harry J. The US Healthcare Paradox: We Like the Affordable Care Act but Fear Obamacare. theguardian.com, 2013. Web. 1 Oct. 2013.

Ponnuru, Ramesh. The Republicans Fighting Obamacare Aren’t Crazy. bloomberg.com, 2013. 30 Sept. 2013.


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