Thursday, May 04, 2017


It's likely that the GOP-controlled House of Representatives will pass the Trumpcare bill today, even though it guts Medicaid, makes insurance unaffordable for millions of people with preexisting conditions without adequately funding the high-risk pools that are supposed to take care of those people (high-risk pools never do), and contains special twists of the knife like a cut in funding for schools that provide medical services to special-needs children, as well as a provision that could define being a sexual assault victim as a preexisting condition in some states.

We've been told by many people, including Senator Chuck Schumer, that the bill can't pass the Senate -- but we were told it was dead in the House, so I don't believe that.

This is now less about the content of the bill and more about Republican tribal solidarity, the belief that having a failed president is more dangerous to Republicans' chances at reelection than passing a cruel and punitive health care bill. The bill will probably be changed in the Senate, and I guarantee you we'll get massive amounts of drama from Susan Collins before she falls in lockstep, but I'm thinking there's a strong possibility that it will pass in the Senate if it passes in the House. The two bills will have to be reconciled, and that might be where the process breaks down. But it's less of a risk to Republican senators than is generally belueved because only a few of them are up reelection in 2018, because non-Republican voters tend to have short memories (no one nurses grievances the way Republican voters do), and because the GOP is skilled at making elections about trivialities and irrelevancies (Swift Boats, email servers, the "Ground Zero mosque"). Also, "We'll kill that awful Obamacare" has been Republicans' central message for seven years, and there's nothing a group of mostly white males finds more intolerable than the shame of failure after a boast.

But why wouldn't the voters GOP House and Senate members rely on be upset if this bill becomes law? Because Republican voters generally think like Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Ala.):
“It [The GOP health care bill] will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool that helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy,” explained Brooks. “And right now, those are the people who have done things the right way that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”
This was treated as a shocking utterance, but right-wingers routinely divide the world into the deserving (conservative Christian heterosexual white males and the women, children, and non-whites who admire them) and the undeserving (everyone else). They believe success is a sign that God loves you and failure is a sign either that you've done something to displease God (if you're in the second category) or evil members of the second category have stolen what rightly belongs to you (if you're in the first category).

So if and when Trumpcare becomes law, the suffering will be seen as either people bringing their troubles on themselves or people still being robbed by the undeserving, who get all the good stuff. Bad outcomes will still -- somehow -- be the fault of Democrats and liberal culture. For now, the notion that people will lose coverage isn't upsetting to the typical Republican voter, because those losers surely don't deserve coverage in the first place.

Maybe Republicans will pay a penalty at the polls for this. But turnout will have to increase among voters who don't think this way, or who do think this way now but will have changed their minds by Election Day. I don't think there's any guarantee that that will happen.

No comments: