Saturday, April 22, 2017

Why are Republicans going down the repeal/replace blind alley again?

A coalition of Freedom Caucus and moderate Republicans has been working on a compromise [Republican] health care bill that they say they will introduce and try to pass before the 100 day marker.   Why?

The answer seems to be in the previous phrase:   100 day marker.   The Trump administration is desperate to be able to claim some legislative success -- and it has none.    Here's the way Huffington Post's political editors, Sam Stein and Ryan Grim, explain it:
*     *     *
"The House Republicans' zombie health care overhaul bill rose from the dead once more Wednesday night, with moderates and conservatives coming to a tentative agreement on draft language. Immediately, though, it became clear that the new bill faces even tougher odds than the one that was already laid low in the House and that caused no shortage of political damage to Republicans.
"All of which raises a vexing question: Why are they doing this to themselves again?
"After all, their first effort . . . rais[ed] questions about Speaker Paul Ryan's ability to manage his caucus,  President Donald Trump's ability to inspire votes, and the viability of the rest of the GOP agenda. It left the Freedom Caucus wounded and at war with the president, while moderates had to suffer an outpouring of intense opposition back home.
"Since then, Obamacare has only grown more popular and the pathway to its demise more narrow in the Senate. . . . " 
[There follows a discussion of the likelihood and the politics of trying to pass another version.   Some seem to feel that they have to introduce something -- even knowing it won't pass -- because they raised expectations so high that they would "repeal Obamacare."  They can't just give up on one try.]
". . . . To abandon it after one attempt at passage (and a meek three-week effort at that, without even a vote) would be to risk alienating their core voters.  At that point, your base collapses . . . .
"And so, the party is pursuing the repeal of Obamacare out of a desire to ― at a minimum ― show it is still in pursuit. . . .  The actual vote-getting part is not their problem. It’s good PR. Neither side [conservatives nor moderates] actually speak for any significant bloc of votes.
"As long as the bill appears to still be alive, it gives Republicans running for re-election something to point to, the thinking goes. This has been the GOP’s electoral formula for seven years already, so perhaps it can be played on the base through the next election, too. . . ."
[That's one view.  Other Republicans still believe that the ACA is failing in many areas, especially rural areas where much of Trump's base voters live.   They're banking on them still blaming Democrats when it fails.]
. . . . "The problem, though, is that the kind of help needed in rural communities ― greater subsidies, a more generous Medicaid expansion ― are the opposite of what the GOP plan would do. . . . [So] many believe the 'let-it-collapse' approach would backfire dramatically.
“'When I hear people say ‘let it fall apart and implode,’ do they really think they will have the political willpower to let that happen?' asked former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). 'Imagine the news stories. It will focus on how the callous, mean, son-of-a-bitch Republicans aren’t willing to fund whatever. And so and so will be without health care. There is no way Republicans are going to sit back and let this fall apart.' 
". . . .  And so, Kingston predicts, they might just do the most congressional thing possible: pass something ― anything ― and let it collapse in the Senate.  'I think the way to get it out of the way is to get something to the floor and then blame it on the Senate,' he said. 'They just have to.  Any piece of paper will do.'"
*     *     *
There you have it.  To be fair, Kingston's words were taken out of context, and this may not be representative of his overall views about health care.    But, sadly, it does seem to match with their actions:   Not how can we make people's lives better?  But how can we manipulate this bad news and fool the people so they keep voting for us?  It's all about the politics of it, not about people's needs and the good of the country.
Republicans have painted themselves into a corner by promising something they can't deliver.   Yes, Mr. Trump, health care is complicated.  It's good that you know that now, and it would be better if you really understood a little more about why it is so complex.   Then you would learn that the Republicans have been lying to you too, as they have been lying to their constituents.
You see, there is just no way to keep the good stuff (like no pre-condition limitations), get rid of the stuff you don't like (like mandatory enrollment) -- and also get rid of the tax increase on the wealthy to help pay for it, without losing coverage for millions.  It's just mathematically impossible.   So something in that equation has to go.
That "most beautiful chocolate cake anyone's ever seen" comes with a price tag.  Didn't they tell you that, Mr. President?

No comments:

Post a Comment