Reihan Salam is known as a “reformicon” who has prominently argued that the Republican Party needs to do more to help out working class voters.  But after reading his latest column on health care in Slate, he strikes me more as a naive-icon.  This conclusion is true, but seems like it could only be written by somebody with no familiarity with today’s Republican Party:

This is the right way for Republicans to talk about the cost of the safety net: If there’s a conflict between rich people’s money and the lives of ordinary Americans, we’re going to choose the latter every time…

How can Paul Ryan and his allies send a more coherent message around the American Health Care Act? A good starting point would be to forget about cutting Obamacare’s taxes on households earning more than $200,000. It’s not that Republicans are opposed to cutting those taxes. It’s just that their priorities should lie elsewhere, namely in ensuring that vulnerable people don’t get screwed. If Ryan can’t get behind that message, his health care bill deserves to fail.

Right.  There is literally nothing in Paul Ryan’s history that suggests he is more interested in ensuring vulnerable people getting screwed than in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  Ryan is far more concerned about the problem of poor people getting the “hammock” of affordable, decent health care.  In this conflict, Paul Ryan chooses rich people’s money every single time.

I suppose I’m glad that people like Salam are Republicans to keep fighting the good fight from within the party.  But, damn, is he just hopelessly naive if he actually thinks Paul Ryan and friends truly care about America’s vulnerable.  That said, the whole column is still worth reading in diagnosing ideological conflict within the GOP.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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