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The crab and his mother

By Justin Kolikof,


Aesop tells us an interesting story called “The Crab and His Mother.”  The fable goes:

A crab said to her son, “Why do you walk so one-sided, my child? It is far more becoming to go straight forward.” The young crab replied: “Quite true, dear Mother; and if you will show me the straight way, I will promise to walk in it.” The mother tried in vain, and submitted without remonstrance to the reproof of her child.

Hold that thought for just a moment, while Senator Orrin Hatch tells us another interesting story.

In a recent interview with Politico, the Senator was attacking the Affordable Care Act—no surprise there—saying the health care law “can’t be fixed.” He also said he supports efforts to defund or repeal the law outright, even if that means defeating long-term spending bills for the federal government and putting our fragile economy at risk. Unfortunately, that’s pretty standard stuff from the right-wing these days.

So, you’re probably wondering what the Senator’s interesting story is?

Well, in the same interview, Senator Hatch recounts his partnership with the late Senator Ted Kennedy on the creation of CHIP—the program that provides health coverage for American children in working families.

As Senator Hatch told Politico:

The two had a tense, but ultimately productive, working relationship on the creation of CHIP, Hatch recalled. The program wasn’t Kennedy’s ideal model, Hatch said, because it was state-based rather than a federal approach. And when Hatch brought up the legislation during a late-night Finance Committee session, he said, Kennedy was furious.

“Kennedy got real aggravated at that and called me and blasted me, and, frankly, I hung up on him. Well, the next day, he was the first guy in the office saying, you know, ‘That’s really a wonderful bill. That’s going to go down in history as one of the great bills,’” Hatch recalled.

So, if we’re following this correctly, even though Senator Kennedy didn’t completely agree with Senator Hatch’s plan for CHIP, he recognized that the bill would improve the lives of millions of families and he was willing to put politics aside and work with Senator Hatch to advance a good bill.

That was 1997. Fast forward to today.

While Republican leaders—including Senator Hatch—continually work to undermine and repeal our health care law, the fact is, the law is helping to improve the lives of millions of Americans. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act:

  • In the past two months, 150,000 seniors have received free annual wellness visits;
  • Since January 1, Medicare beneficiaries are no longer on the hook for deductibles, co-insurance, or copayments for preventive services like flu shots, colonoscopies, and annual check-ups. This provides substantial savings for struggling seniors. Over 45 million Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for free preventive services;
  • Parents have the peace of mind that comes from knowing their children can be covered under their family health plan until age 26. This change could help more than 3.4 million uninsured young adults;
  • Mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters have access to preventive care services, like mammograms, free of charge;
  • Children have access to well-child visits and vaccines at no cost to their families; and
  • We all have protections that mean we can never be denied coverage simply because we have a pre-existing condition.

So Senator Hatch praises Senator Kennedy for putting politics aside and working together on a good bill that helps people, while at the same time he and his Republican colleagues refuse to put politics aside to support a good law, in this case the Affordable Care Act, that will help millions of people.

Which brings us back to “The Crab and His Mother.” All fables have a moral, and I think Senator Hatch’s story does to.

The moral of both of course: Practice what you preach.