My next newspaper column:
“This is who we are. This will define us.” Speaking truth for once, Paul Ryan chose those remarkable words to rally Republicans behind his brazen wealth transfer from the not-rich to the rich, disguised as a health care plan. His words were laughably dim yet absolutely accurate. It is who they are. It should define them, until elected Republicans return to sanity or the end of time, whichever comes first. Drowned in the latest execrable excretions from the Gold House, Trumpcare still struggles for life.
It’s revealed truth on the right that the Affordable Care Act was “jammed down our throats,” hurried through with no hearings, no input or amendments from conservatives. Everything about that is false; even Nancy Pelosi’s infamous quote was taken out of context. It is, however, almost entirely true of Trumpcare. Some Republicans acknowledge the difference. Cobbled together in the basement of the Capitol, it was rushed to the floor with little input outside Paul Ryan’s circle and before it could be scored by the CBO or read by pretty much anyone. That introductory ruse would have yanked coverage from tens of millions. Nothing in the latest changes that.
After eight years of cynical “our-base-will-believe-anything” repeal votes on Obamacare without proposing a replacement, their first depredation with Trump in power garnered 17 percent approval. (One assumes it represents those who’ll get enormous tax breaks, and those who don’t care as long as they’re unaffected.) Passing the House by a hair, the latest go-round pried loose a couple of vote switches by adding an amount to high-risk pools so paltry it’ll help about five-percent of people in individual markets with preexisting conditions. Unlike Obamacare, though, Trumpcare did achieve bipartisanship: twenty Republicans joined Democrats in voting no.
Since the few Republicans willing to speak publically lie about it or offload such ignorance as “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care,” or imply it’s your fault if you get sick, they’re less than credible. Some data, however, are undeniable.
Trumpcare gives the wealthy nearly a trillion dollars in tax cuts, paid for by cutting about the same from Medicaid. No matter how you parse that, it’s a servile gift to big donors and disaster for people who’ve counted on and received help for insurance coverage. Republican priorities couldn’t be more obvious. As a Virginia Congressman responded when asked about his constituents who said they’d been saved by Obamacare, “They probably didn’t vote for me.” Unsaid: “Or if they did, they didn’t donate enough.” (“This is who we are. This will define us.”) And he admitted not reading the bill.
Also true: Trumpcare will severely raise rates on older Americans. Happily for Congressfolk who voted for it, the greatest impact won’t be felt till after the next election. Smart, if contemptuous, politics. It’s “states’ rights,” bray they. Freedom. To trust Medicaid funds to the likes of Scott Walker and Sam Brownback. Who’ve bankrupted their states.
If you’re unsure whether or how Trumpcare covers preexisting conditions you’re not alone. Again, though, there are certain undeniable not-fake facts: high-risk pools generally produce unaffordable or meager, high-deductible coverage. The amount provided by Trumpcare to mitigate those higher premiums rounds off to a pittance. Watch this impressive woman enlighten her Congressman.
Trump, Congressional Republicans, and their bewitched supporters deny all of this. If anything like it becomes law, though, there’ll be no need for speculation. Time and outcomes will clarify who’s right. (Hint: it’s Democrats. And the American Cancer Society, AARP, AMA, AHA…)
If doubt remains about Trumpcare’s venality, it also cuts funds for special education. For those who wonder why, remember: “This is who we are. This defines us.”
This continuing debacle affirms the need for single payer, sooner than later. Trumpcare is a boon to the wealthy and the never-sick. For everyone else, it’s calamity. But celebratory glee abounded in the Rose Garden. High fives! Dancing, on future graves! Trump reminding everyone he’s president! Electile dysfunction and premature congratulation is what it was, the Senate having already rejected the bill. In fact, because of Ryan’s rush, a revote might be needed. Which means citizens who bought Trump’s lies promising the opposite of Trumpcare have time to speak out. Is that who they are? What will define them?