Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Trumpcare: Everything That Is Despicable About The GOP In One Bill

This is the final, febrile end-stage of the prion disease that has afflicted the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan first fed it the monkeybrains in 1981. -- Charles Pierce
The Senate's health care bill, cobbled together in secrecy by a few white men without input from health care experts or stakeholders (or even Republican women Senators) and rushed towards a vote before its impact could be fully digested, is a heartless piece of crap that would be devastating to the poor while providing a massive tax cut to the already-wealthy.  It does nothing to address the overarching problems with our nation's health care such as controlling rising costs or stabilizing insurance markets.  Oh, and it would defund Planned Parenthood too.  In short, it encapsulates perfectly today's Republican Party:  mean-spirited, lacking transparency, unconcerned about policy, and bolstered by lies and obfuscation.

While it appears that the bill is being pulled back in tactical retreat because there aren't enough votes to pass the Senate -- including recalcitrant Republicans who did not find the bill harsh enough -- it is worth examining what the Republican majority was trying to achieve.

The CBO score tells the story.  The bill would leave 22 million uninsured.  It would cut spending on Medicaid -- which insures most Americans in nursing homes, the disabled and the poor -- by $772 billion over 10 years, leaving 15 million fewer covered in that program.  These cuts would, however, allow for a $541 billion in tax cuts, mostly for high income earners. 

But you wouldn't know that from their comments on the TV shows, where Republicans brazenly lie about the bill's impact.  Medicaid will be cut by $772 billion, but according to Trump spokesperson Kellyanne "Alternative Facts" Conway,  "these are not cuts to Medicaid."  And in the face of rising deductibles and the slashing of subsidies for the poor and elderly, HHS Secretary Tom Price insists that "no one would be worse off financially." 

Indeed, how would Republicans know the ultimate impact of their bill given how unconcerned they are with policy-making. This is all about fulfilling a long-held promise to the base to gut "Obamacare" and capitalizing on a fervent ideological goal to provide deep tax cuts for the wealthy.  In stark contrast to the Affordable Health Care Act, which was subject to 79 committee hearings and months of refinement and negotiations, the bill was crafted in secret with zero committee hearings.  In a revealing article in Vox, Republican Senators could not answer basic questions about what problems with health care the legislation was designed to address or if they could identify a problem,  how the legislation would solve it.  The lack of concern over policy is best captured by Senator John McCain's response which was that the problem the bill was trying to solve was "getting 51 votes." 

Even the New York Times' erstwhile GOP apologist and wanker emeritus, David Brooks, appears disgusted by the Republican Party's lack of vision and manifest cruelty.  As he sadly admits, all Republicans stand for is less taxes and cutting open-ended entitlements.  And "because Republicans have no national vision, they seem largely uninterested in the actual effects their legislation would have on the country at large."

If they were transparent about their goals, if they relied on the democratic processes to achieve them, Republicans would fail miserably because what they want -- unfettered corporate power and wealth in the hands of the few and a regressive social agenda  -- is not what a majority of Americans want.  And so they have to suppress votes, control the courts, and rely on massive corporate donations.  They have to craft bills in secret, and do away with traditional norms of governance.  And they have to prop up a bigoted, mentally unstable, ignoramus to do their bidding despite his danger to the country and the world. 

The good news for us is that when their plans, like the health care bills put forward by the House and by the Senate, are exposed to the light and subject to the growing resistance, support quickly evaporates and they have to surrender -- or at least retreat.  The silver lining for Republicans in Congress is that if their conduct is a product of prion disease from eating those infected monkey brains, as Charles Pierce has long surmised, at least they have a decent health care plan to deal with it.


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