The important things to understand about the Republican health care bill are that it is (a) a cruel assault on the health and financial security of tens of millions of Americans (b) being sold via a campaign of lies that is unprecedented in US politics. Defeating this bill, and/or making its supporters pay a massive political price, is priority #1.
But there are a number of secondary questions, involving how Republicans got to this point. Some of these are big and long-term: how did a whole party succumb to such moral rot? Others are more tactical: how did they get into this immediate political mess?
So I was struck by today’s report in Politico suggesting that leading Republicans — in Congress as well as the Trump administration — thought repealing Obamacare would be quick and easy:
The longer Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare flounder, the clearer it becomes that President Donald Trump’s team and many in Congress dramatically underestimated the challenge of rolling back former President Barack Obama’s signature achievement.The Trump transition team and other Republican leaders presumed that Congress would scrap Obamacare by President’s Day weekend in late February, according to three former Republican congressional aides and two current ones familiar with the administration’s efforts.
How could they have believed this? Anyone who paid the least attention to health issues knew that the ACA had dramatically reduced the number of uninsured, and that rolling it back would have devastating effects on many people — including many working-class whites. Never mind the morality: It should have been obvious that the political cost of repeal would be very high.
But apparently nobody with influence in the GOP saw the obvious. Why?
The answer, I think, is that they were living in a bubble created out of their own ignorance and cynicism.
They had spent years attacking Obamacare for things they had no intention of fixing — in fact, had every intention of making worse — like high deductibles. They appear never to have considered what would happen if they were called upon to deliver on their promises to make these things better.
They also appear to have been so wrapped up in their own propaganda that they never noticed the good Obamacare was doing. You saw that when the Indiana GOP asked for “Obamacare horror stories” and were flooded with testimonials instead.
Truly, Republicans, you know nothing. And it’s finally starting to matter.