Yesterday Republicans finally released their plan to dump Obamacare while duping Americans about how badly it’s going to hurt. And how badly will it hurt? Paul Waldman offers a quick summary of the most salient parts of this mess – in short, it will cut benefits for older and poorer people, cost them more, undermine the insurance market, undo Medicaid expansion, cut Planned Parenthood funding and drain Medicare sooner – but, hey, it will also give a big tax cut to the wealthy so it’s all good right?
And then there’s the question of its cost relative to the number of people it will deprive of insurance. A question that we can’t answer because Paul Ryan is intent on getting it out of committee and up for a vote before the Congressoinal Budget Office (CBO) has a chance to score it. It’s that bad.
Paul Krugman explains just how bad the GOP Dump and Dupe plan really is:
For the GOP proposal basically accepts the logic of Obamacare. It retains insurer regulation to prevent exclusion of people with preexisting conditions. It imposes a penalty on those who don’t buy insurance while healthy. And it offers tax credits to help people buy insurance. Conservatives calling the plan Obamacare 2.0 definitely have a point.
But a better designation would be Obamacare 0.5, because it’s really about replacing relatively solid pillars with half-measures, severely and probably fatally weakening the whole structure.
First, the individual mandate – already too weak, so that too many healthy people opt out – is replaced by a penalty imposed if and only if the uninsured decide to enter the market later. This wouldn’t do much.
Second, the ACA subsidies, which are linked both to income and to the cost of insurance, are replaced by flat tax credits which would be worth much less to lower-income Americans, the very people most likely to need help buying insurance.
Taken together, these moves would almost surely lead to a death spiral. …
Nothing here that’s too surprising. The GOP boxed itself into a corner, braying continuously about the horror that was Obamacare – which, in fact, incorporated many ideas devised by conservative thinkers at the Heritage
Institute Foundation. Obamacare pumped all the workable ideas out of the conservative idea well. Which why the repeal part of replace and repeal hasn’t gotten much attention from Republicans apart from bland assurances that all will be well. Of course, now that they have to come up with something, they don’t want to be left with the mess repeal and replace will inevitably create, so they’re twisting and turning and hoping to placate their base with dump and dupe.
Lots of observers think that this particular iteration of dump and dupe will die in the Senate if it even makes it that far – the super rightwing House Freedom Caucus rather emphatically doesn’t buy into the replace/dupe part of the exercise – they want straight out repeal or nothing. That assessment has been cautiously echoed by Missouri’s always cautious Roy Blunt, a junior member of the Senate leadership group:
“Well, I haven’t had time to look at it in great depth yet, so we’ll see,” Blunt said of the plan on KMBZ local radio Tuesday. “What I don’t like is it may not be a plan that gets a majority votes and let’s us move on. Because, we can’t stay where we are with the plan we’ve got now.”
Blunt said any final plan would need to be negotiated.
“I think the nucleus of the plan is clearly there and the President says it’s negotiable and so do House members,” he said. “So, I’ll be interested to be a part of that negotiation as we work toward a majority in the House and Senate that puts a bill on the President’s desk.”
There are two things we can unpack from this statement that tells us a lot about Roy Blunt:
1. Blunt’s priority is, as usual, the political ramifications – he doesn’t really care too much about the bill itself. He just wants to get something done so that he and his fellow corporate shills can get back to doing their real work serving the interests of the folks who write the campaign checks. He knows, though, that Republicans need to check this rather tiresome box off – the GOP’ has demonized Obamacare and promised to repeal it for so long that they have to deliver something or eat some very public crow.
2. Blunt tells us that he believes that “the nucleus of the plan is clearly there” and we can’t stay “where we are with the plan we’ve got now.” But if Obamacare is really so bad, why preserve its structure, the nucleus, I presume, while making it less effective and hurting thousands of his constituents in the process? Could it be that he just doesn’t care what it does or doesn’t do for Missourians?
Roy wants to be part of the process, the “negotiation,” going forward. And that fact should scare us. We know who Blunt is in congress to serve. And it isn’t those folks who finally got insurance under Obamacare. If the new dump and dupe plan is bad, its next iterations will probably be even worse, and we’ll have Roy Blunt and his cronies to thank for it.