Are The Republicans Ready To Just Call It Quits And Let Trumpcare Die A Quick Death?
On Thursday Bernie Sanders was on CNN with Wolf Blitzer for a wide-ranging interview and you can watch it in it's entirety above. I just want to focus on one question-- which you'll notice Bernie bringing up on his own-- the Ryan-Pence-Price repeal of Obamacare to replace it with some shitty non-starter called Trumpcare. He had to explain to the dumbfounded Beltway misinformation hack that Ryan, McCarthy and the rest of the Republicans behind the health care bill and the rest of the Republican agenda are conservatives and the Republicans opposing them shouldn't be called "conservatives," but "right wing extremists." (We have the same thing on the Democratic side of the aisle when conservative Blue Dogs and New demo are routinely labelled by the Beltway media "moderates," even though they aren't "moderate" at all, just proto-Republican or "conservative." OK, that out of the way, Bernie launched into an explanation for poor Blitzer of what Ryan's Trumpcare bill really is:
"When we look at what the Republicans are doing, it should not be seen as a healthcare legislation. Essentially it should be seen for what it is: a massive tax break of $275 billion for the top 2 percent. You have the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association saying that this will be a disaster for the American people. You have the AARP saying, 'If you are 64 years of age and you're making $25,000 a year, your premiums are going to go up by $7,000.' This is a Robin Hood proposal in reverse. [Trump and Ryan are] throwing 5 to 10 million people off of health insurance, raising premiums for low-income and working-class people, defunding Planned Parenthood, denying over 2 million women the right to get health care where they want. But the good news is, for all of you who are watching-- if you're in the top 2%, Republicans are there for you [with] a very significant tax break...Today Senator Jeff Merkley told Oregonians that our "access to health care is in serious jeopardy. After spending the better part of a decade vowing to 'repeal and replace' the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans scrambled and came up with a health care plan that is a combination of the terrible and the dangerously bad. Their plan slashes Medicaid, which would put health care out of reach for millions and jeopardize nursing home care for many. It would dramatically raise the cost of health care for older Americans. Rural hospitals and health clinics would be deeply damaged. It even eliminates the $1 billion fund that helps the CDC and state public health agencies fight disease outbreaks, like Zika and Ebola. There's a reason it's opposed by nurses, doctors, hospitals, the AARP, and scores of patient groups. Why? Why then, you might ask, would anyone support this TrumpCare plan? Here's what we should know: it gives big tax breaks to high-income Americans while raising taxes for low-income Americans. This bill includes a tax cut that will average $25,000 per year for the top 1 percent. And the cherry on top? There's a hidden tax break in the bill that rewards health insurance companies who want to pay their executives more than $500,000 a year. Access to health care is a life-or-death issue. It's not an excuse to hand out tax cuts to Republicans’ millionaire pals or favored industries."
"The American public understand that we have a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican president, and if they can't get their act together, they're going to be held accountable, not anybody else.Here is the point: hey have told us for eight years how terrible the Affordable Care Act is, and yet we have added 20 million people to the ranks of the insured. Is the Affordable Care Act perfect? Far from it! We should remind everybody that the United States today is the only major country on Earth that doesn't guarantee healthcare to all people and yet we spend far far more per capita for the very dysfunctional system we have, and Republicans want to make that worse. They want to throw so many people off of health insurance... or to raise premiums. I think what they're looking at is a disaster... And they want to pass it in the House and bring it to the Senate [with ZERO hearings in the Senate]... They don't want any discussion; they want to push this thing through because they don't want the American people to know what's in it."
Strong stuff from both senators and it brings us right to David Brooks' much-discussed Friday column in the NY Times, The Republican Health Care Crackup. Brooks stunned a lot of Times readers by offering a theory that "this hodgepodge legislation that pleases nobody and takes the big crises afflicting our country and makes them all worse [and], but even if it passes it will probably lead to immense pain and disruption. That will discredit market-based social reform, cost the Republicans their congressional majorities and end what’s left of the Reagan-era party." On the same page Krugman called it a bill so bad it's awesome. "It has long been obvious," wrote the Nobel Prize winner, "to anyone following health policy that Republicans would never devise a workable replacement for Obamacare. But the bill unveiled this week is worse than even the cynics expected; its awfulness is almost surreal... How could House Republicans under the leadership of Paul Ryan, who the media keeps assuring us is a smart, serious policy wonk, have produced such a monstrosity? Two reasons.
First, the G.O.P.’s policy-making and policy analysis capacity has been downgraded to the point of worthlessness. There are real conservative policy experts, but the party doesn’t want them, perhaps because their very competence makes them ideologically unreliable-- a proposition illustrated by the rush to enact this bill before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office can estimate either its costs or its effects. Basically, facts and serious analysis are the modern right’s enemies; policy is left to hacks who can’t get even the simplest things right.Ezra Klein picked up on a line in Brooks' piece to take the argument in an entirely different direction. Do the Republicans actually want to see this abomination quickly fail so they can move on with the rest of their agenda-- tax cuts for the rich-- the prt they really care about? "There is," wrote Klein yesterday, "a line worth noting in David Brooks’s column today: 'The Republican plan will fuel cynicism. It’s being pushed through in an elitist, anti-democratic, middle of the night rush. It seems purposely designed to fail.'"
Second, Republicans seem to have been undone by their reverse-Robin-Hood urges. You can’t make something like Obamacare work without giving lower-income families enough support that insurance becomes affordable. But the modern G.O.P. always wants to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted; so the bill ends up throwing away the taxes on the rich that help pay for subsidies, and redirects the subsidies themselves away from those who need them to those who don’t.
Given the sick joke of a health plan, you might ask what happened to all those proclamations that Obamacare was a terrible, no good system that Republicans would immediately replace with something far better-- not to mention Donald Trump’s promises of “insurance for everybody” and “great health care.”
But the answer, of course, is that they were all lying, all along-- and they still are. On this, at least, Republican unity remains impressively intact.
Quietly, the idea that the House bill is designed to fail is percolating around Washington. I’ve heard it from a half-dozen people now. The law’s construction is shoddy. The outreach has been nonexistent. The hypocritical, hyper-accelerated process is baffling. Nothing about it makes sense.
But if you flip the intention-- if you assume Republican leaders want to see a repeal-and-replace bill die in the Senate so they can say they tried and move on to tax reform-- all of a sudden, it makes much more sense. It explains why more time wasn’t spent getting the bill right. It explains why they’re going so fast. It explains why they don’t care what the Congressional Budget Office says. It explains why they aren’t doing the outreach that would normally buffer them from this backlash.
Why would they want their own bill to fail? Well, consider the predicament they’re in. Republicans have spent seven years promising to repeal and replace Obamacare. They won election after election atop that vow. But now that they have the power to make good, they’ve run into three problems.
First, Obamacare has become popular. Second, they don’t have an alternative plan that would make good on their promise to provide more people with more generous health care at lower cost. Third, implementing a repeal-and-replace plan-- with all the complexity and disruption that entails-- will drown the rest of the GOP’s agenda, and perhaps its congressional majority.
Arguably, the best outcome for Republicans is to try to replace Obamacare and fail. And if you believe that’s what they’re doing, much else falls into place.
Take the GOP effort to discredit the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis rather than working with the agency to build a better bill. For that play to work, they need credible, independent validators of their ideas. In 2009, when Democrats wanted to argue that the CBO was underestimating the savings from delivery-system reforms, they pointed to work by Harvard’s David Cutler, among others. The key to their argument was that top health experts disagreed with the CBO, and they made lengthy, plausible arguments explaining why. That’s what this looks like when you’re really trying.
The House GOP isn’t really trying. The conservative intellectual apparatus is overwhelmingly against Ryancare-- when you’ve lost Cato and Heritage and AEI and Yuval Levin and Avik Roy and Philip Klein, then discrediting CBO doesn’t come off as CBO is wrong, and here’s a persuasive argument for why; it comes off as we’re wrong, and we’re trying to make sure as few people as possible know it. It’s a flashing signal of weakness.
...Imagine you’re a backbench Republican House member. You’re a conservative. You didn’t see this bill until Monday. All the think tanks you normally rely on-- all the think tanks you normally agree with!-- hate it. The hospitals hate it. The doctors hate it. The major conservative activist groups hate it. Your leadership appears afraid of CBO’s analysis-- even though they appointed the director of the CBO! Wouldn’t this look a bit weird to you? You want to be a good soldier, of course. Paul Ryan says this is your only chance to repeal and replace Obamacare, and Obamacare is terrible. But you’ve got to be a bit antsy. How much would it take to shake you?
That depends, of course. Imagine Trump (and Ryan) really turn into a gargantuan electoral disaster for the Republicans to the point the Democrats win back the House. Very feasible. (Help make it happen here.) But what about the Senate? Next to impossible. A "best case" scenario for Democrats would be that they lose none of their vulnerable seats-- hard to imagine-- and manage to win 3: Cruz's seat in Texas, Flake's seat in Arizona and, the only realistic one-- Dean Heller's seat in Nevada. Heller is a hapless backbencher, a conservative in a blue-trending purple state, who was appointed in 2011 when GOP pervert and phony religious fanatic John Ensign was forced to resign after he got caught dorking his best friend's wife and then spread around a bunch of money illegally to fix the problem. He only won the seat in 2012 because he ran against a worthless pile of garbage candidate, New Dem Shelley Berkley. If the Democrats put up someone even worse and more worthless-- say Jacky Rosen-- Heller will be safe. Otherwise... this poll tells the story:
Republican Senator Dean Heller will likely face an uphill battle for reelection next year. Indeed, today Nevada voters give Heller worse overall job ratings than they give President Donald Trump... [J]ust one third of likely voters rate the job Heller is doing as excellent or good, while a majority say he is doing a fair to poor job. While the intensity of disapproval for the President, that is those offering the worst rating of “poor,” is an astounding 44 percent, it is notable that fewer than one-in-ten voters give Heller “excellent” reviews, while nearly one-in- four say poor.There are 8 Senate Republicans who have indicated they are considering a vote against Ryan's Trumpcare bill if it reaches the Senate. Heller has kept quiet about his own intentions. My guess though, is that he'd be #9-- or maybe just #4 if push came to shove over this.
In more bad news for Heller, 30 percent of respondents who approve of President Trump’s job performance say Heller is doing a fair to poor job. Further, a broad majority of voters in the Reno Media Market-– a market critical to Heller’s 2012 victory-– offer negative reviews, 6-in-10 in Washoe County specifically, while in the Las Vegas Media Market, Heller’s professional reviews are only slightly better. Among critical self- identified independent voters, a solid majority disapprove of Heller’s job performance as do self-described moderates. Even one third of his own base, registered Republicans, give Heller negative job ratings today while a bare majority give him excellent or good reviews.
Overall, the intensity of the disapproval of President Trump’s job is also a serious caution sign for Heller and all Republicans, for that matter, as it is demonstrative of a significant energy gap brewing in advance of the 2018 midterm election and a trend that often leads to greater electoral turnout among those who are most passionat-– with Democrats and voters of color most notably being the most passionate in their disapproval today. All in all, although there is still a long time between now and November 2018, this survey is a clear danger sign for Heller and the GOP.
Labels: 2018 congressional races, Bernie Sanders, David Brooks, Dean Heller, Ezra Klein, Jeff Merkley, Nevada, Paul Ryan's toxicity, repealing Obamacare, Senate 2018, toxicity of Donald Trump, Trumpcare