If you were a decent politician — one who cared about your constituents — you would plan ahead. If there was a tsunami coming, you would evacuate the coast and get clean-up crews ready for the resulting damage. But it seems that on the right in American politics, such basic actions don’t make sense. I think this is all part of the Republican Party exchanging competence for ideology. Because there are Republican governments all over the nation that are facing a major — and largely predictable — catastrophe: the ending of federal subsidies for people buying health insurance on the federal exchanges. And these governments are doing nothing to prepare.
The issue at hand is the case King v Burwell in front of the Supreme Court. If it finds for the defendants, then nothing happens. But if it finds for the plaintiffs, it’s going to be really bad — not just for the individuals who will lose their insurance, but also for the insurance companies and for the healthcare providers. So a group of healthcare researchers led by David K Jones decided to look at what is going on in five of the states that will be effected by the ruling: Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Utah. And it looks pretty bad, What Are The States Doing To Prepare For King v Burwell?
This article is just the first of three. But it provides the overall conclusions. And there are three of them. First, none of the states have a clear plan as to what they are going to do if the Supreme Court finds for the plaintiffs. Second, the governors seem to be open to some kind of a deal, but the legislators are not. And third, the timing is bad; only Michigan will have a legislature still in session after the ruling comes. Of course, even if that weren’t the case, there still wouldn’t be time to set up a state exchange for next year.
These observations are all annoying in their own way. The fact that the states have no plan is not surprising. If the worst comes to pass, they probably figure they might do something. But as long as they don’t have to do anything — they won’t. They are, in other words, hypocrites. I’m sure that the vast majority of these Republican legislators and governors are secretly hoping that the Supreme Court finds for the defendants. And they are thinking this privately even while publicly saying it is a great and just cause.
The Republican Party is out of control. It isn’t so much that Republican politicians can’t tell the truth to their base. Rather, it is that Republican politicians know that if they act reasonably about this (or pretty much anything else), another Republican politicians will come in and demagogue the issue. They know others will do this to them because they know they would do the same thing to others if they needed to. Forget the Eleventh Commandment, the Republican Party is now at the point of snake eating its own tail. They just can’t stop themselves from destroying themselves.
Clearly, the best thing for everyone is for the Supreme Court to find for the defendants in King v Burwell. But clearly, if that doesn’t happen, the problem is the Republicans’. And that’s another thing that was found in the Jones et al analysis. The Republicans believe they are going to be blamed for this. Yet even then, they can’t manage to do anything. If they use their power for the common good, they will likely lose that power at the next election. If they don’t use their power for the common good, what is the purpose of having that kind of “power”? The choice they will make is clear.