The more we learn about Trumpcare (aka the American Health Care Act), the less it seems like a real attempt at replacing Obamacare. It gives massive tax cuts to the rich and no one else. It lets insurance companies charge seniors more but doesn't offset the increase. It offers tax breaks to companies to encourage them to pay their CEOs even more. It phases out the Medicaid expansion that millions of Trump voters depend on.
If I were to sit down and craft a bill that would result in an electoral massacre for my party in 2018, Trumpcare would be it.
And it somehow gets even worse. After foaming at the mouth over Democrats allegedly crafting the bill in secret (they did nothing of the sort), House Republicans literally hid the bill from the public and Senate Republicans so they wouldn't have time to look it over before the House rammed it through. They looks less like a party of confident leaders and more like the kid trying to hide the hole he punched in the bedroom wall.
Donald Trump weighed in on the unfolding train wreck and possibly gave away the game:
In an Oval Office meeting featuring several leaders of conservative groups already lining up against the House Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Donald Trump revealed his plan in the event the GOP effort fails: Allow Obamcare to fail and let Democrats take the blame, sources at the gathering told CNN.
In light of the preposterous nature of the bill, I submit that letting Obamacare "fail" was always the plan and the AHCA is a ruse designed to make it look like Republicans were actually interested in fixing America's healthcare system. Of course, in this context, "fail" means "do everything possible to sabotage the ACA and then act shocked when it breaks," but let's not quibble over semantics.
Breaking the legs of Obamacare without providing an actual replacement serves several functions. First, it allows Republicans to kill the law without taking responsibility for killing it. Sure, they'll be standing over the fresh corpse with the bloody knife in their hand but the press has been a very reliable accomplice when it comes to ignoring the GOP's culpability for the law's problems.
Second, it gives Republicans a new weapon to bash the Democrats with just in time for the midterms. They're going to need every weapon they can find to overcome Trump's historic unpopularity. Third, it gives them the excuse they need to repeal the law without a replacement. The poor and middle class take a massive hit but the rich get an enormous tax cut and that's all Republicans really care about in the short run.
Fourth, it will discredit any attempt to pass a healthcare law in the future. Republicans are allergic to the very idea of using the government to ensure the country can afford insurance. As far as they're concerned, the government exists to make the rich richer. Anything else is a distraction and anything that actually helps anyone not rich is offensive in the extreme. This was evident in the sneering statement from Jason Chaffetz (R-Douchebag) that "maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they [the unwashed plebes] just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest it in their own health care." It was also evident when Trump's OMB head, Mick Mulvaney, flat out admitted that, "insurance is not really the end goal here, is it?"
There are almost certainly some Republicans who feel obligated to try to replace Obamacare after promising for years that they could but I seriously doubt Paul Ryan is one of them. Ryan is a sneaky, dishonest weasel but he's not stupid enough to think this bill will work. He knows it's a loser. He also knows that repealing Obamacare without offering something in its place was not going to cut it with conservative voters. After the AHCA gets shot down by Senate Republicans, he'll throw up his hands and claim innocence as the healthcare system goes into meltdown, giving him what he already wants: less government help for the sick and poor. Just like his idol Ayn Rand preached right up until when she needed it for herself.
Bottom line, Trumpcare is a joke without a punchline. The only other option is that Republicans have become so incompetent at governing that they're utterly incapable of drafting a bill that actually helps the poor and middle class in any way whatsoever. This would make them more of a threat to their own voters than the illusory horde of undocumented immigrants coming to steal their already outsourced jobs.
I honestly don't know which option is more depressing.
There are 606 days left to the 2018 elections.
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