Friday, March 10, 2017

Morning Reading - More On RepubliCare/ TrumpCare

Several interesting reads this morning on the House Republicans' "health care" bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). As always, please go to the link for the full articles (our emphasis throughout).

Catherine Rampell illuminates the real purpose of the bill:
Let’s abandon the pretense. 
Republicans’ “health care” bill is not really about health care. It’s not about improving access to health insurance, or reducing premiums, or making sure you get to keep your doctor if you like your doctor. And it’s certainly not about preventing people from dying in the streets. 
Instead, it’s about hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts — tax cuts that will quietly pave the way for more, and far larger, tax cuts.
She points to the strategy behind this nothing- about- health- care monstrosity:
The presence of expensive tax cuts in a bill purportedly about health-care reform is not a side effect; it’s the entire point. They make it easier for Republicans’ (much bigger) individual and corporate tax cuts to sail through the Senate with minimal Democratic obstruction in a few months’ time. 
Why? Under normal circumstances, Democrats would almost certainly filibuster the coming tax overhaul, preventing it from ever getting to a vote. But Republicans can take the filibuster option away by using the “reconciliation” process, which is an option if, and only if, the tax bill doesn’t increase government deficits in the long term, relative to existing law. 
How do you keep tax cuts from increasing deficits relative to existing law? One useful tool is to change existing law — that is, to move the goalposts. Cutting taxes in the Obamacare repeal bill today lowers the revenue baseline against which a tax overhaul plan will be judged tomorrow
With these Republicans and their weaselly Speaker Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (R- Galt's Gulch), it's always about tax cuts for the well- to- do and to hell with everyone else.

Eugene Robinson picks up on the other Republican myth exposed here:
It’s time to put an end to the myth that Republicans believe in fiscal responsibility. Saving taxpayer dollars takes a back seat to the ideological imperative of blaming and shaming the poor. 
Witness the GOP’s long-awaited plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. House committees are moving forward on the legislation before the Congressional Budget Office has even had a chance to estimate how much the measure will cost. Why the rush? Because if the plan doesn’t snatch away health insurance coverage from millions of people — and both President Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) swear it won’t — then it’s surely going to cost a ton. 
The Republican plan would take away the ACA’s subsidies and replace them with refundable tax credits based on age for incomes up to $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a married couple. This means a windfall for those who are older and well-to-do. In essence, the plan would expand government assistance to encompass many who don’t really need it — in order to avoid targeting help toward those who do
The GOP plan would also eliminate the ACA’s penalty fee for not having health insurance, which goes into the public till — and replace it with a different penalty fee that goes to the insurance companies. Apparently Republicans have no problem committing what they once called “extortion” if the benefit goes to private companies, not the common good. 
Keep in mind that Trump and GOP leaders in Congress promise that after dealing with health care they will seek huge tax cuts, including for the wealthy. As fiscal policy, how does this make sense? 
It doesn’t. It only makes sense as ideology. In today’s Republican Party, policies have to satisfy the belief that the less fortunate are poor by choice
Will any of this transparent hypocrisy and sociopathy ever become apparent to the Republican or Republican- leaning voter, and would it matter if it did?  Some polling shows these voters are split on the issue of tax cuts for the wealthy, but the reality is that the historical tribal urge to vote Republican regardless ensures that policymakers like Ryan continue to try to enact their dystopian, plutocratic vision to their detriment and to the detriment of the most vulnerable among us.

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