Look at What You Made Me Do is a political cartoon illustrated by Gary Varvel in the summer of 2013. This illustration displays a clear partisan divide between the Democrat and Republican party on the issue of ‘Obamacare’, a term used in place of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The cartoon shows a donkey, symbolizing the Democratic party, crashing an ambulance truck labeled “OBAMACARE” into a street post labeled “EMPLOYER MANDATE DR.” It also presents an elephant, symbolic of the Republican party, dressed in construction-worker’s attire holding a STOP-sign by his side. The donkey exhibits blame of his crash on the elephant by exclaiming, “Look at what you made me do” towards him. Varvel’s cartoon shows a desire by the Democratic party to implement the healthcare policies under Obamacare, while the Republican party seems to be reluctant to help make it work.
After taking the Oval Office in early 2009, President Barack Hussein Obama pushed for the passage of a bill that would reform the health care system in the United States. The reason being, after decades under the “American employer-based health insurance model”, employers began to either reduce or totally eliminate their employee health care benefits. While simultaneously private health insurance became less and less affordable for many people. This resulted in tens of millions of Americans being uninsured and medical expenses becoming the most common cause of personal bankruptcy by 2007 (Alic 402). In early 2010 a bill titled, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was passed by Congress and signed into law by president Obama with the intention of curtailing this issue. The purpose of this bill was to bring a reduction in the number of individuals who were without health insurance, an increase in the availability and quality of health care programs, and a reduction in the cost of health care to individuals and the government (Newton 1842). Both parties do realize that health care reform is necessary, however, both are in heavy opposition over this law.
One of the primary sources of controversy within the Affordable Care Act is its “Employer Mandate” provision, which is referenced in Varvel’s cartoon through the street post. This provision provides a set definition for big and small employers. Then based on the definitions these businesses will either receive assistance to help pay for health care or be obligated to reach certain requirements with regard to their employees’ health insurance. For instance, the act requires the government to start issuing tax credits to smaller employers with fifty or more employees to help pay for the cost of health care. Then the Act describes large businesses as having 200 or more employees and requires these employers to enroll their workers into health insurance plans that they offer (“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” 878). This provision is the center for much of the debate about the Affordable Care Act because both of the parties have different views on the extent the federal government can intervene with business and the economy.
The modern-day Democratic party is described as being the party that leans more towards a liberal ideology. This generally means that the Democrats approve of a strong national government that heavily implements social welfare and equality and government intervention to regulate the economy (Tarr 259). The Affordable Care Act allows the government to intervene on businesses when it comes to providing for their employees’ health care. The reason why the party would be in favor of such a measure is because it provides health insurance to a broader portion of the population, further fulfilling the liberal desire for equality. Also the Affordable Care Act became law when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and when President Obama, a Democrat, had control of the White House (“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” 877).
On the other hand, the contemporary Republican party holds a more conservative ideology relative to the Democrats. Which infers that most members of the party would be in favor of a national government that has little jurisdiction over regulating the economy and providing social services (Tarr 259). The Affordable Care Act goes against the Conservative-Republican ideology by allowing the government to impede on the affairs of businesses and, as a result, the economy. After it was passed back in 2010, twenty-seven Republican-controlled states joined in a lawsuit against it. They argued that requiring uninsured people to buy health insurance or face paying a fine was a violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution and also their states’ rights ideology (Gaines 264). Over the years that the Affordable Care Act has been implemented, the Republicans have repeatedly vocalized their disapproval of the law. In the article “GOP Consumed by Obamacare” there is reports of Republican officials serving in various positions from Majority Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, to the Republican National Committee Chairman, Reince Priebus, expressing a priority to repeal and replace the Act in 2014 (Milbank A9).
The partisan disagreement over the implementation of policies and the role of national government seems to be a common occurrence throughout the United States’ history. A similar disagreement between the Democrats and Republicans is illustrated in a political cartoon from the 1930’s by John Knott entitled The Campaign is On! (Knott 2) The issue referred to in Knott’s cartoon is the New Deal polices implemented by the Roosevelt administration, a Democratic president. The Democrats and Republicans in those days seem to maintain similar ideologies to their parties in the early 2010s. The Democrats were in favor of the New Deal which promoted government induced economic regulation and social programs to bring about economic recovery. While the Republicans believed that economic recovery would come more quickly by getting rid of the government regulation on industry put into motion by the New Deal.
Look at What You Made Me Do is a political cartoon that provides the viewer with a glimpse of the partisan disagreement over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It refers to a specific provision of the law that puts certain requirements on employers depending on their particular size. The cartoon also illustrates the desire by the Democratic party to implement the Affordable Care Act because it abides by the liberal ideology that party seems to maintain. On the other side of country’s political party system, the Republicans wish to repeal or slow down the implementation of the Affordable Care Act because it directly contradicts their conservative views.
Alic, Margaret, “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Consumer Health Care. Ed. Brigam Narins. Vol. 2. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2014. 402-409. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.
Gaines, Kevin. “Obama, Barack Hussein 1961-.” Encyclopedia of Race and Racism. Ed. Patrick L. Mason. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Detroit Macmillan Reference USA, 2013. 261-265. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.
Milbank, Dana. “GOP Consumed by Obamacare.” Spokesman Review [Spokane, WA], 9 Jan. 2014, p. A9.
Newton, David E. “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).” The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Ed. Laurie J. Fundukian. 4th ed. Vol. 3. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2014. 1842- 1844. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law. Ed. Donna Batten. 3rd ed. Vol. 2: Health Care to Travel. Detroit: Gale, 2013. 877-880. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.
Tarr, Dave, and Bob Beneson. “Ideology.” Elections A to Z. 4th ed. Los Angeles: CQ Press, 2012. 259-264. CQ Press America Government A to Z Series. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
Varvel, Gary. “Look at What You Made Me Do.” Cartoon. Creators Syndicate. 7 Jul. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.