GOP Reasons for Healthcare Bill Make No Sense

Jonathan Chait - GOP Reasons for Healthcare Bill Make No SenseRather than advocate for the alleged benefits of the bill — if anybody even alleges them any more — Republicans have staked their case on a series of reasons unrelated to its direct effects on the healthcare system:

1. They promised. “We made a promise and now it is the time to keep that promise,” says Paul Ryan. “If we keep that promise, the people will reward us. If we don’t keep our promise, it will be very hard to manage this.” …

A related argument maintains that Republicans would somehow take the blame for the status quo if they failed to pass the bill. “I’m optimistic that none of my members in the end want to be responsible for the status quo on Obamacare,” says Mitch McConnell. Of course, Republicans will be held responsible for the status quo regardless of whether they pass a healthcare bill.

2. Losing will embolden our enemies. “[Trump] told us if we don’t pass this bill on Thursday, it will put everything in jeopardy that he wants to do, his agenda,” Republican Representative John Duncan of Tennessee told The Hill. “If we are not able to move forward with healthcare reform, it endangers tax reform,” Representative Bill Flores of Texas, a former chairman of a House conservative caucus, tells Sahil Kapur. “The folks that were able to tear this down would feel like they’re empowered to tear the next big project down.” This is, essentially, the domino theory of legislation. But, really, think about it rationally: the folks who are tearing down Trumpcare are fellow Republicans in Congress. If Trumpcare fails, are they going to turn against tax cuts? …

3. But think of the tax cuts! The manic drive to pass the healthcare bill follows from a legislative strategy that was designed to culminate in a huge tax cut that would not have to be phased out after a decade. Republicans continue to insist health reform must be passed for this reason. …

4. We’ll lose Congress if we fail. “If we get this done, and tax reform, [Trump] believes we pick up ten seats in the Senate and we add to our majority in the House,” says Republican Representative Chris Collins of New York. “If we don’t get it done, we lose the House and the Senate.” Trump has reportedly emphasized the same point to his party. …

The AHCA is the fruit of a failed strategy. The law’s design was dictated by a legislative schedule that initially assumed Republicans would simply defund Obamacare, move on to tax cuts, and return to health care at their leisure later on. They have instead been forced to craft an actual healthcare bill on a manic time frame, using a legislative mechanism that is not designed for major social legislation. Like people leading a country into a losing war, they demand to push on and invent new reasons to justify the cost, because they can imagine nothing worse than admitting they failed.

–Jonathan Chait
Why Trump Thinks Passing a Terrible Healthcare Bill Makes Sense

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