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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Leonhardt: The Cynicism of Trumpcare

The Cynicism of Trumpcare

NYTimes:David Leonhardt
Earlier this week, the pollster Matt McDermott posed a question: Why are Democrats working so hard to prevent House Republicans from passing their health care bill?
"It's an extreme bill that's probably dead in Senate. And puts vulnerable GOPers on the record for vote that'll cost them House next year," McDermott predicted. Democrats were opposing it anyway, because they believed it was wrong — "a truly awful bill that will truly hurt everyday Americans," he wrote.
He added: "In this health care debate, Democrats are doing something few in politics ever do: staking a moral position regardless of the politics."
On Wednesday, House Republicans finally seemed to find a path to passing the bill. But it's an amazingly cynical path. They flipped the votes by adding a fig leaf, of an extra $8 billion over five years to help cover sick people. The amount is not nearly enough to prevent the bill from doing terrible damage, as reporting by Reed Abelson and Margot Sanger-Katz shows.
The bill, at its core, is still what it has always been: It's a large cut in health benefits for the sick, the old, the middle class and the poor, as an academic study published today — which I cover in a new column — shows. The savings from these cuts is then funneled into tax cuts for the rich.
That's why the bill continues to be opposed by conservative, moderate and liberal health care experts, as well as groups representing doctors, nurses, hospitals, the elderly, the disabled and people with cancer, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Oh, and that's a partial list.
No wonder Republicans are hastily rushing through the bill. "There have been no hearings, no studies, no Congressional Budget Office analysis; not even the text of a bill circulated the day before Thursday's vote," Jonathan Chait's latest piece for New York magazine points out. No major bill has ever passed Congress in this fashion.
My colleague Ross Douthat put it this way: "Say what you will about European right-populists, but they wouldn't be dumb enough to vote for this health care bill."
In the end, the principled Republican resistance to the bill in the House appears to have been smaller than the desire to let President Trump and Paul Ryan claim a political victory. House Republicans seem to be betting that the progressive resistance to Trump has exhausted itself, as Ezra Klein noted.
If the bill really does pass, the next two battles become clear: Persuading at least three Republican senators that they shouldn't take away 24 million people's health insurance — and then, as McDermott's question suggested — making sure some House Republicans who voted to take away that insurance pay with their jobs in 2018.
The full Opinion report from The Times follows, including Andrew Rosenthal on James Comey.
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John Case
Harpers Ferry, WV

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