The Republican healthcare plan called the American HealthCare Act suffered a monumental defeat of historic proportion on Friday March 24th, 2017. The bill was promoted by President Donald Trump and Republican leadership as repeal and replace legislation that would finally rid America from the purported disaster of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, there weren’t enough Republican votes for passage so Trump instructed Paul Ryan to pull the bill.
With a political failure of this magnitude, it is appropriate to look primarily at Donald Trump and his role in the outcome. But that would be too easy. We know Trump is intellectually disabled and almost certainly didn't read the bill. He resorted to his usal arsenal of threats, promises of vengeance and bleak ultimatums, and it still didn’t work. But the real storyline should be Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. As I’ve written in the past, Ryan’s pristine reputation as a defender of American exceptionalism and a man of substance and laudable morality was permanently damaged by his support of Donald Trump’s hate-filled candidacy for President.
However, it seems Paul Ryan felt he had an obligation to further cement his crumbling reputation by demonstrating his ruthlessness and lack of human empathy by creating the American Health Care act legislation.
When the political opportunity was in front of him, Paul Ryan and his Republican minions showed little regard for the American people and their healthcare by hastily putting together legislation in less than two months – behind closed doors. Ryan took a leading role in the development of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that would have provided hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the rich and destroy Medicaid. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported that 24 million people would lose health insurance under the GOP plan. If enacted, seniors would have seen their premiums rise to unaffordable levels, the poor would be more vulnerable to untreated disease and illness that could lead to death. We would have seen important services for women cut with this legislation. But that didn’t matter to Paul Ryan. He also lives in his own alternate reality. Paul Ryan continued to promote this unpopular bill even though Republicans were experiencing town hall uprisings all across the country. The perceived wonkiness of Ryan was exposed as a sham with his pathetic powerpoint presentation that showed he had no clue how insurance works.
There was nothing compassionate about the American Health Care Act and unsurprisingly, there is nothing compassionate about Paul Ryan. The man is on record saying he’s been dreaming about kicking poor people off Medicaid since his yuppy college days pontificating about the virtues of Ayn Rand ideology. His morality is measured by bank accounts, corporate appeasement and sanctimonious lectures about why people are poor in the first place.
Over and over, Paul Ryan shows himself to be an intellectual fraud and a man incapable of seeing beyond his own extremist ideology. The civility of his discourse should not blind anyone to the calculated terror he attempts to inflict on American citizens -- from senior citizens to the poor.
Paul Ryan’s humiliation at the defeat of the American Health Care Act was welcomed because it saved lives. But rest assured, Paul Ryan radicalized vision of a less secure safety net for Americans has not gone away. He will test America’s resolve again in the future. We need to be ready.