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Why Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare
Why Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare
By Jared Bernstein
March 24, 2017
A shorter URL for the above link:
Let me briefly try to answer this question: How did Republicans fail to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? In no order, and off the top of my addled mind at the end of a crushing week:
They hated Obamacare but they never understood the Affordable Care Act. This is the uber-explanation for much of what follows. Hating Obamacare became just what you did on the right. It didnt mean you understood it, beyond maybe getting that it was a government program and thus paid for by taxes. It certainly (and this turned out to be very important) didnt mean you had any ideas about what it did, how it worked or how many people were benefiting from it or how to replace it.
Obamacare created a new baseline. Its hard to take away something in this case, health insurance coverage for more than 20 million people from which people are benefiting.
They dont have a policy bench. From Trump on down, many of todays conservatives tend be much more skilled at campaigning, opposing pretty much everything, riling up their bases with antipathy toward the other side and getting elected (granted, that last bits kind of important) than at the qualities that enable governing, like compromise and fact-based analysis. Of course, there are thoughtful conservatives with cogent ideas about health policy, but clearly theyre of little interest to todays leadership. How do I know that? Because their replacement law the American Health Care Act was an incoherent dogs breakfast of massive tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for the poor, more a caricature of Republican policy than actual policy. In this regard, credit also goes to the Congressional Budget Office, for quickly and credibly revealing the damage that would be done by the AHCA.
The one policy Republicans get is tax cuts, and little else motivates/interests them. This is a variant on the previous entry, but it meant that a real motivation for the repeal was cutting about $1 trillion in taxes, including two ACA taxes paid mostly by the wealthiest Americans. It is axiomatic that when you cut such highly progressive taxes, the benefits go to those at the top of the scale, and it quickly became clear that, for example, almost 50 percent of the cuts went to millionaire households. The 400 richest taxpayers, with average income above $300 million, would get a tax break averaging $7 million. Couple that with the sharp cuts in Medicaid and the predicted premium increases for low-income elderly people in their AHCA plan, and even in D.C., the extent of this Robin-Hood-in-reverse play was too much for moderate Republicans, many of whom have ACA beneficiaries in their districts from whom they were hearing.
Theyre ungovernable. It caught my attention when former House leader John A. Boehner predicted what just happened a few weeks ago.
President Trump wasnt much help.
Their version of reality did not allow for the ACA gaining public support. Various polls, including this one from Pew, show public support for the ACA hitting its highest level on record, with 54 percent approval and 43 percent disapproval (see Figure 3 here as well). Their bubble also seems to have kept them from realizing that their replacement bill was in terrible shape re: public support.
The complete article may be read at the URL above.
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