The New York Times on Wednesday published a House Republican memo for a sustained attack on the Affordable Care Act. Over at New York, Jonathan Chait noticed that the document contained a sketch of a football play—and that, to anyone with even the barest understanding of football, the drawing made no sense. The GOP playbook also provides a “FREE AMERICA” poster, overlaid on the iconic image from the movie Free Willy.
It’s a riff on the news that SeaWorld is one of several large companies that capped its workers’ hours, possibly to avoid complying with Obamacare. Inspired by Chait, we decided to unpack why the GOP’s Free Willy allegory doesn’t make any sense, either.
1) Presumably, in this allegory, Obamacare is the theme park where Willy is trapped. In the movie, the park has ensnared Willy because it wants to use him to make money. The GOP’s gripe about Obamacare is that it’s going to cost money. (And contrary to the Fox News line, the Affordable Care Act is projected to save the federal government about $190 billion over the next decade.)
2) The Republican Party’s avatar here must be Jesse, the punk kid protagonist who manages to—you guessed it—free Willy (tee hee). But Jesse is an orphan who only ended up living with a nice foster family and working at this amusement park because a social worker placed him there. If the GOP had its way, Jesse would never have been picked up off the streets: The House of Representatives’ budget for fiscal year 2013, for example, would have eliminated foster care for 451,000 children in 36 states.
3) If America is Willy, maybe Republicans who advocate for the fossil fuel industry should think about the fact that climate change is destroying the food chain and endangering killer whales. Does that make this poster a metaphor for how Republicans are endangering America's health and survival? So maybe it makes sense after all...