Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Real Reason Behind the GOP's Rush to Repeal Obamacare

There was in truth only one real motivation behind the GOP's thankfully failed Obamacare "repeal and replace" effort:huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.   Yes, some of the most right wing Republicans are anti-government and want the government out of the healthcare arena completely, but the net effect of a total repeal with no replacement would be the same, namely huge tax cuts for corporations and the truly wealthy.  What I found so utterly dishonest was the GOP claim that tax credits would have allowed individuals the "freedom to choose the coverage best for them."  The reality is that the tax cuts were so inadequate that there'd be only one "choice" available - to have no coverage.  Even if working class individuals were relieved of all income tax obligations, in most instances, it would still not provide the funding needed for healthcare coverage.  The "replacement" offered also ignored the reality that many employees with coverage offered through their jobs fail to secure coverage for one reason: they cannot afford to add coverage for their spouse and/or children due to the expense.   

Like so much else in the GOP agenda, what Paul Ryan and Der Trumpenf├╝hrer were peddling was one huge lie.  Voters well for it during the 2016 elections, but with every passing day, the abortion known as the American Health Care Act was increasingly recognized as a con job that would harm millions of Americans.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at why the GOP was in such a hurry.  It also suggests what any "tax reform" package offered up by the GOP will have as its underlying motive.  Here are highlights:
Why were Republicans rushing to vote on a health-care plan that they'd barely finished drafting, that budget scorekeepers hadn't had a chance to fully evaluate, and that, insofar as people did know about it, was widely despised?
In part, it's because their plan was so unpopular and because it got more unpopular the more people learned about it. But it's also because only by rushing to reshape a full sixth of the American economy without knowing exactly how they would be reshaping it would Republicans be able to use health care to pave the way for the rest of their agenda, including tax reform. In other words, the GOP didn't want to let a detail like tens of millions of people losing their health insurance get in the way of two tax cuts for the rich.
Here's what we knew about the Republican plan. The latest version that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had a chance to analyze would have, over the course of 10 years, cut taxes by $1 trillion, disproportionately benefiting the rich; cut Medicaid spending by $839 billion, exclusively harming the poor and sick; and cut the Affordable Care Act's health insurance subsidies by about $300 billion, mostly hurting older people of modest means. Add it all up, and the CBO estimated that 24 million people would have lost their health insurance as a result. Not only that, but premiums would have increased 15 percent to 20 percent more than they otherwise would have in the next four years. . . 
This wasn't just a matter of higher premiums and higher deductibles, though. Trumpcare also would have repealed the “essential health benefits” that plans are required to cover now. States would have been allowed to write their own rules, so, depending on where you lived, insurance companies might have been able to sell you “insurance” that didn't cover hospitalizations, prescription drugs, maternity care, mental health care and preventive care, and also imposed annual and lifetime limits on your benefits. 
The surprising thing, then, isn't that as few as 17 percent of people approved of the American Health Care Act. It's that as many as 17 percent did.
But there's a reason the GOP was pushing a bill that would have taken everything people don't like about the health-care system and made it worse. That's the fact that it would have allowed them to pass two permanent tax cuts for the rich. Anyone, you see, can pass a tax cut that expires after 10 years. But if you want to make it last — and you don't have 60 votes in the Senate — then you need to find a way to pay for it (or at least look like you did). Taking health insurance away from poor and sick people would have done just that for the Obamacare taxes, which primarily hit people in the top 1 or 2 percent. 
[T]he combination of tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the poor that was the GOP health-care plan would have been a reverse Robin Hood that redistributed income from people making $50,000 or less to mostly those making $200,000 or more.
If Republicans had repealed the Affordable Care Act's $1 trillion worth of taxes before they revised taxes, that's $1 trillion less they'd have to come up with to make it look like money wasn't being lost. Now, without those phantom savings, tax restructuring, Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) admitted, will be “more difficult.” Not that it was ever going to be easy. After all, the $1 trillion they were trying to save with a “border adjustment tax” seems to be on political life support, since every major retailer, including big GOP donors such as Walmart, is opposed to it.
Republicans will either have to scale back their ambitions for how deeply they will cut taxes or how long they will. Whatever they choose, though, the top tax rate isn't going to stay under 30 percent.  And for the GOP, that's the real tragedy of 24 million people keeping their health insurance.
So why do working class whites who would have been screwed royally by the GOP "replacement" plan vote Republican?  For many of the rich, it is obvious: greed and self-enrichment via tax cuts.  But why the rest?  The answer is the same one that Republicans have used for many years now.  Appeal to racism and white nationalism, generate hatred due to loss of white privilege, use abortion as a snare for right wing Christians, and demonize those deemed "other."  It's the same method used over and over again by the GOP to get individuals to vote against their own best interests.  What's amazing is that so many are so gullible - or perhaps stupid is the better word - that they keep falling for the same ploy. When are these people going to wake the hell up? 

No comments: