In today’s New York Times, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman calls Trumpcare “a half-baked plan that accepts the logic and broad outline of the Affordable Care Act while catastrophically weakening key provisions. If enacted, the bill would almost surely lead to a death spiral of soaring premiums and collapsing coverage. Which makes you wonder, what’s the point?”
He and most others are wondering the same thing. If Trumpcare is so clearly awful and, as Krugman notes, would result in the destruction of coverage, why and how can the GOP even put it forward? Don’t they know it will fail?
The answer, which I think most people are missing, is simply: Yes.
It’s the First Commandment of the GOP — decreed from on high by Saint Ronald — that government isn’t the solution to our problems; government is the problem. As such, the GOP is always seeking to show how the government can’t do anything right and seeking to destroy anything the government does that actually improves people’s lives (in large part, of course, because many of those people vote Democratic). Indeed, the Republican party has opposed Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, equal pay for women, and on and on. Remember when Saint Ronald claimed that if Medicare was passed “we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.” Uh, how’d that work out, Ronnie?
So Trumpcare accomplishes the GOP’s consistent goals. It destroys Obamacare, which, although not perfect, has helped 20 million people obtain health coverage. And it eventually destroys itself — you know, a government program and, thus, a problem — thereby again furthering GOP orthodoxy.
But wait, you say. That’s ridiculous. Surely the GOP would pay an enormous political price for such a stunt. Wouldn’t they be afraid of significant losses in the voting booth?
No, they wouldn’t, and they aren’t, for several reasons. First, the so-called Party of Personal Responsibility never takes responsibility for anything. They will claim it is somehow all the fault of Obama and the Democrats, and their supporters will believe them, because they believe anything. (See: Fox News, “Alternative Facts,” etc.) Second, thanks to the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, our elections are quite literally bought and paid for by the super rich. So, if you’re a Republican, who gives a damn about those who can’t afford insurance? They don’t fund your campaign. Third, extreme gerrymandering has helped solidify Republican congressional seats, even as the GOP continues to receive fewer votes overall in congressional elections than Democrats. (Also, fun fact: the last two Republicans to “win” the Presidency did so while losing the popular vote.) Basically, whatever happens, most Republicans are generally holed up in “safe” districts and aren’t afraid of challenges in elections; certainly not from Democrats.
Add all this up and the fact is that while there may be some political consequences to a Trumpcare disaster, Republicans probably don’t think it will be all that much and, really, don’t care anyway in the grand scheme of things.
In the end, failure isn’t just an option for Republicans. It’s the goal.