The real Republican health care plan

We have it.  It’s called the Affordable Care Act.  And Republican extreme dishonesty about the matter has helped put them in their current pickle. Good reminder on the matter from David Leonhardt:

You hear it from Republicans, pundits and even some Democrats. It’s often said in a tone of regret: I wish Obama had done health reform in a bipartisan way, rather than jamming through a partisan bill.

The lament seems to have the ring of truth, given that not a single Republican in Congress voted for Obamacare. Yet it is false —demonstrably so…

If Republicans still pass it [AHCA], they will take political ownership of the flawed American health care system — after making it much more flawed. Tom Cotton, the Republican senator from Arkansas, has said the bill is so bad that it would “put the House majority at risk next year.” On the other hand, if Republicans fail to pass their own bill, they’ll look weak and incompetent, which is also not a good look to voters.

How did the party’s leaders put themselves in this position? The short answer is that they began believing their own hype and set out to solve a problem that doesn’t exist…

So Democrats slowly moved their proposals to the right, relying more on private insurance rather than government programs. As they shifted, though, Republicans shifted even farther right. Bill Clinton’s plan was quite moderate but still couldn’t pass…

They embarked on a bipartisan approach. They borrowed from Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts, gave a big role to a bipartisan Senate working group, incorporated conservative ideas and won initial support from some Republicans. The bill also won over groups that had long blocked reform, like the American Medical Association.

But congressional Republicans ultimately decided that opposing any bill, regardless of its substance, was in their political interest. [emphases mine] The consultant Frank Luntz wrote an influential memo in 2009 advising Republicans to talk positively about “reform” while also opposing actual solutions. McConnell, the Senate leader, persuaded his colleagues that they could make Obama look bad by denying him bipartisan cover…

The reason is simple enough: Obamacare is the bipartisan version of health reform. It accomplishes a liberal end through conservative means and is much closer to the plan conservatives favored a few decades ago than the one liberals did. “It was the ultimate troll,” as Michael Anne Kyle of Harvard Business School put it, “for Obama to pass Republican health reform.”

Today’s Republican Party has moved so far to the right that it no longer supports any plan that covers the uninsured. Of course, Republican leaders are not willing to say as much, because they know how unpopular that position is. Having run out of political ground, Ryan, McConnell and Trump have had to invent the notion of a socialistic Obamacare that they will repeal and replace with … something great! This morning they were also left to pretend that the Budget Office report was something less than a disaster.

Their approach to Obamacare has worked quite nicely for them, until now. Lying can be an effective political tactic. Believing your own alternative facts, however, is usually not so smart.

Yes, yes, and yes.  Leonhardt is totally spot-on.  And, of course, Republicans still lie to themselves about the history of this.  And, it is also worth emphasizing that not that long ago Republicans (other than Trump) used to at least pretend to like the idea of insuring more people (with actually adequate insurance).

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to The real Republican health care plan

  1. Jeremy Tarone says:

    “How did the party’s leaders put themselves in this position? The short answer is that they began believing their own hype and set out to solve a problem that doesn’t exist…”

    This is pretty much Republican’s problem in a nutshell. They have become insular and have been lying to their own supporters for so long that those supporters started electing those supporters who had become true believers. Now they have the far right Republicans and the truly crazy.
    As we’ve seen with Trump’s election, the few Republicans with actual ethics are too few to change the party, and many of the elected Republicans are simply opportunists. Too many Republicans publicly denounced Trump, but crawled back to him and licked his shoes.

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