This past week the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued its analysis of the Trumpcare bill passed by the House on May 4. The short version is that 23 million fewer Americans will have health coverage a decade from now, thanks to people whose fundamental principle when it comes to developing a plan for health care is this: Obama sucks.
Additionally, the federal Treasury will see a gain of about $12 billion per year over those 10 years as a result of Zombie Trumpcare. Looking at it one way, this bill would mean the government will save a lousy $521 per person, per year, from all the people who’ll be losing coverage. Wouldn’t you rather our country spent that money on covering those people? And of course many of them will still get sick, get injured, and, unfortunately, worse. Either they’ll go without proper care, get care too late at an emergency room — with the costs being passed on to everyone else anyway often enough — or just die. The price of such developments cannot be fully measured in dollars.
Essentially, the bill is a massive shift of wealth from those at or below the median income to those in the top couple of percent. When you think about it, doesn’t that pretty much describe every Republican proposal that has anything to do with money? It contains a tax cut — mostly going to the very wealthy — of almost two-thirds of $1 trillion, while stripping almost $1 trillion from Medicaid as well as one-quarter of $1 trillion in subsidies that currently help middle-income folks buy insurance through the Obamacare exchanges. Do Republicans openly trumpet these reverse Robin Hood measures as the reasons why this is such a great bill? If you think they do, I’ve got a nice patch of Sherwood Forest to sell you.
This claptrap is what Trump and his Republican minions claim is the real benefit of their plan. It’s about building character, you see. All you irresponsible people getting health coverage you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford—and which, Pence implies, you don’t deserve—will now enjoy real freedom. You’ll be free to drop dead, in other words. This bullshit definition of freedom stands at the core of Republican economic philosophy. “Freedom” sounds a lot better than “feed working people and the poor to the rich,” but make no mistake: the results remain the same.
Also, let’s go further into the details here. The people who received Medicaid under the expansion of that program authorized by Obamacare are all people living in a household earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level, i.e., earning more than those in households who previously qualified for Medicaid, i.e, people who are fucking working already. And those receiving premium subsidies to buy policies on the exchanges are in households that earn even more money.
So, Mr. Pence, Mr. Trump, Mr. Ryan, Mr. McConnell: who exactly are the “not responsible” people benefiting from Obamacare? Do you really think there are Americans who otherwise would be acting responsibly but who are instead now lollygagging about thanks to Obamacare? You can’t eat health insurance. You can’t live in health insurance, or heat your home in the winter with health insurance. Yes, people need it, but it doesn’t allow anyone to not work unless they’ve got plenty of other money to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
The House Trumpcare bill is indefensible, both on moral and fiscal grounds. And Republicans know it. That’s why Republican House candidate Greg Gianforte — running statewide in Montana only a few months after Trump carried the state by 20 points — now faces a misdemeanor assault charge after he exploded at a reporter who politely pressed him for an answer on whether he supported the bill now that the CBO had released its report. The candidate had previously said he wouldn’t have voted for the House bill because, when it was voted on, the CBO hadn’t yet scored it. This is like a real life version of when Trump said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still get elected.
In all seriousness, Republicans don’t want to run on Trumpcare. Gianforte ran away from it while his opponent, Democrat Rob Quist, made Trumpcare the center of his campaign in its closing weeks. In the end Gianforte won, but underperformed Trump’s margin by thirteen points against a first-time candidate. House incumbents who are on record voting for the bill won’t have the luxury of ducking that vote.
When it comes to health care, these right-wing ideologies are going to pontificate about faux freedom until the last polling place closes. The guts of the matter is this: Zombie Trumpcare takes health coverage from working families to cut taxes for the rich. Democrats must make sure that Republicans are unable to run away from that. And this: