So, the health care bill. It appears that the House GOP is poised to eliminate Obamacare’s rule that would protect people with pre-existing conditions from being denied insurance. They might say no, they aren’t, but that’s not really true ; the protection may remain in name only.
Whatever you thought of Obamacare, that part of it was fair and necessary. Why on earth would this supposedly newly populist party want to do something that stands to hurt the most vulnerable? What kind of ideologues would do this? What kind of populist president would support it?
I opposed Obamacare. I like health savings accounts, tax credits and competitive health care markets to drive down costs. But these free-market reforms have to be funded in a way to serve the least among us, not the most. This House Republican plan would increase suffering, morbidity and death among the middle class and poor in order to provide tax cuts to the rich.
It would cut Medicaid benefits by $880 billion between now and 2026. It would boost the after-tax income for those making more than $1 million a year by 14 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center. This bill takes the most vicious progressive stereotypes about conservatives and validates them.
It’s no wonder that according to the latest Quinnipiac poll this bill has just a 17 percent approval rating. It’s no wonder that this bill is already massively more unpopular that Hillarycare and Obamacare, two bills that ended up gutting congressional majorities.
If we’re going to have the rough edges of a populist revolt, you’d think that at least somebody would be interested in listening to the people. But with this bill the Republican leadership sets an all-time new land speed record for forgetting where you came from.
The core Republican problem is this: The Republicans can’t run policy-making from the White House because they have a marketing guy in charge of the factory. But they can’t run policy from Capitol Hill because it’s visionless and internally divided. So the Republicans have the politics driving the substance, not the other way around. The new elite is worse than the old elite — and certainly more vapid.
A study released this week found that mortality rates among the white working class shot up 60 percent  — 60 percent! — in fewer than twenty years. It’s complicated why this is happening, but the last thing these people need is to give insurance companies an opportunity to deny them coverage. These are Trump’s people, and as Brooks indicates, he’s selling them out for the sake of a political win. I completely understand the need to reform Obamacare and make it better, but it looks like the Congressional Republicans never had a plan for this, and went into this process hacking willy-nilly, and have no idea what they’re doing.
This is not an abstraction! This is the health care of the American people. People, not integers.
These Republicans can’t govern, can they? Again, let me mention a conversation I had last week in Washington with a conservative, pro-Trump friend. He said that policymaking is such a disaster — in large part because the president himself is disinterested and disengaged — that when the wheels come off, the Democrats are going to come roaring back, and it’s going to be hell to pay for conservatives. Feels like the GOP is careening today towards a wheels-off moment.
If the people who sent Trump to Washington come to see him as having sold them out, we are going to be at a dangerous political moment. Trump could have used what scant political capital he had to do something big on trade policy, which is what his people wanted more than anything, and arguably needed. But no, they had to mess with Obamacare. Reminds me of George W. Bush using up his re-election capital in 2005 pushing for a Social Security reform that nobody but conservative elites wanted, and that failed.
UPDATE: Note comments in the thread calling into question my math re: white mortality rate. It’s not as bad as I made it sound, I’m told … but it’s still pretty horrible!