Thursday, March 16, 2017

The CBO blew a hole in any unity the Republicans had left

Look at the widely differing reactions among leading Republicans to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Paul Ryan's American Health Care Act (AHCA).    As shorthand, I will focus this just on the estimate of how many will be without health insurance as a result, compared to a continuation of the ACA (Obamacare).

1.   House Speaker Paul Ryan, chief author and sponsor of the AHCA, is jubilant and all smiles that the number is so high -- 24 million -- because, to his Ayn Rand brain, these are 24 million people who exercised their free choice not to have the a dictatorial government force them to be insured.

2.   Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price says the numbers are just wrong, because the CBO did not consider Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the plan.   He still insists that no one will lose anything they want to keep, it won't cost anyone any more, and there will be pie in the sky.

3.   The White House did it's own estimate and came up with 26 million, actually 2 million more than the CBO said would lose coverage.   So this seems to have quieted talk from the president's surrogates that blasted the CBO as "so wrong."   And Breitbart News has taken up this position and is blasting the Ryan plan, which DJT still nominally supports.   This is Trump trying to have it both ways.

4.   Republicans in the House are all over the place, for differing reasons.  Some want to go ahead and force a vote, even knowing it won't pass the Senate.   Then they can claim they did what they promised (repeal Obamacare), which will satisfy some constituents.   And maybe those who wanted to keep their insurance will have forgotten by the elections next year.

5.  The far right conservatives (Tea Party) say it goes too far, still, in that it is a government give-away program.   The moderates say it is too stingy and will leave millions uninsured.

6.  The Senate has a tougher road, in that it will take a No vote from only three Republicans to defeat it .   Latest count shows 10 of them oppose it in its current form.

7.  It's also awkward for Rep. Price to blame the CBO for getting the numbers wrong, since he was instrumental in the appointment of the new head of the CBO.

So we have some Republicans bucking it because it doesn't do enough for people;   some Republicans hating it because it does too much;  and now the most fact-free, fake-news Breitbart News puts out its own facts on this bill -- and reports that "It's even worse than the CBO says it is."

Now, perhaps we understand why this is the only thing that Trump has the slightest smidgen of connection to that he doesn't want his name on.   A few journalists are calling it "Trumpcare," but the president himself has not used that word.  And now, while giving lip service to passing it, he's busy backing away and planning to put the blame for its defeat on Paul Ryan.

So, Fearless Leader, whatcha gonna do now?    Let me guess.    Make up some outrageous distraction that will capture the news cycle.   What about "Obama had my phones tapped?"  Nope, already used that one.   What about leaking some tax returns?  Did that on Tuesday.  Didn't work.  Quick.   Think of something else.


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