GOP’S WAR ON AMERICA RAMPS UP! — LOOT, PILLAGE, BURN UNLESS & UNTIL VOTERS WAKE UP — AFTER UNNEEDED TAX CUTS, SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE, & SAFETY NET NEXT TO BE SACRIFICED TO THE RICH — RACE TO THE BOTTOM ACCELERATES!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/12/republicans_rule_and_ruin_agenda_shows_how_bankrupt_the_party_has_become.html

Jamelle Bouie writes in Slate:

“For the Republicans in opposition to Barack Obama, it was rule or ruin. If they couldn’t advance their agenda, then they would paralyze Congress, sabotage the courts, and hold the economy hostage to hyper-ideological demands. If they couldn’t set the terms of American governance, then no one would.

Jamelle Bouie
JAMELLE BOUIE
Jamelle Bouie is Slate’s chief political correspondent.

Far from paying a political price for this behavior, Republicans rode it to the trifecta of federal power: a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and a president in the White House. Finally, they ruled. But in forging this path to power, the GOP abandoned any commitment to the public interest. The result is rule and ruin from a Republican Party that holds power but wields it in destructive, irresponsible ways.

Historian Geoffrey Kabaservice detailed the demise of the moderate Republican at the hands of an uber-ideological conservative movement in his book Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party. But the current GOP has laid bare exactly what this means when the party takes power.

Republicans pushed, again and again, to repeal the Affordable Care Act earlier this year, despite wide opposition and clear evidence of disastrous consequences for ordinary Americans. They slapped together plans with little forethought and even less rigor, with predictable results: Any one of the GOP repeal bills would have crashed the individual health care market and crippled Medicaid, leaving tens of millions of Americans without health coverage. Pressed on why exactly they were doing this, few Republican lawmakers could even answer the question. They weren’t legislating to solve problems or further the public good, they were legislating to achieve a narrow ideological goal, whatever the costs for actual, living people.

We see this, now, with the Republican tax plan. Sold to the public as a generous middle-class tax cut, the reality is just the opposite. As it currently exists, the Republican bill is a large tax cut for corporations and wealthy households, paid for by tax hikes on middle- and working-class households and designed to land glancing blows on the social safety net writ large.

Republicans would slash corporate tax rates, spending more than $1 trillion over the next decade to cut the rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. They would slash rates on the highest income earners, as well as create a new loophole lowering taxes on certain kinds of businesses. They would also make cuts to the estate tax, with an eye toward phasing it out entirely, hugely benefiting wealthy heirs. There is a middle-class tax cut, but unlike these provisions, it’s temporary. “By 2027,” notes the New York Times, “people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut.”

Adding to this, Republicans intend to use this bill to end the individual mandate in Obamacare, potentially crippling the law’s health insurance markets and lowering the insurance rate by an estimated 13 million people over the next 10 years. Other measures include the end of a federal deduction for state and local taxes—sharply raising the tax burden in high-tax states like New York and California—and a provision that would end deductibility for tuition waivers for graduate students and repeal the student loan interest deduction, policies that might restrict access to higher education for people from marginalized groups.

The economic case for these policies is nonexistent. There’s little evidence that, in these conditions, a tax cut would stimulate significant economic growth. On Thursday, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation said that the Senate GOP plan would result in just 0.8 percent more growth over the next decade. And Republican rhetoric notwithstanding, this growth would only cover a third of the cost of the tax cut. The public would be on the hook for $1 trillion. The only way to close that gap, if you won’t raise taxes on the rich, is to slash vital services like Social Security and Medicare, plans that are already taking shape.

The Republican tax plan, then, is potentially transformative. It would supercharge inequality, putting even more of the nation’s wealth in the pockets of a handful of wealthy families (one of which is the Trump family, which would benefit enormously from the provisions of the bill, even as Trump says the opposite), and it would fund this by slashing health care, burdening students, and raising taxes on middle-income families. All to fix a problem—high, burdensome taxes on the wealthy—which doesn’t exist.

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In other words, this tax plan does not serve the larger public. It’s simply a giveaway to wealthy interests, robbing the country of needed investments and loading younger generations with endless debt and little to show for it. As we saw in Kansas and Oklahoma—states that had to make deep cuts to infrastructure and education to afford their tax cuts—this is essentially rule in order to ruin. The looting of public coffers for the sake of individuals and interests who already have so much. And while Trump is a central figure here, he is not the driving force. This is the endpoint of conservative ideology, the all-consuming priority of the Republican governing class. Replace President Trump with President Rubio or President Cruz and we’d be looking at a similar bill, with a similarly reckless process.

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Part of their calculation must be they’ll lose big next year so they have to rob the place while they can.

The “rule and ruin” ethos applies to more than just legislation. It defines the relationship between President Trump and the Republican Party, as GOP lawmakers tolerate racist demagoguery and dangerously unstable rhetoric for the sake of narrow ideological concerns, ignoring or rationalizing the real damage to America’s norms and institutions. It captures the dynamic of GOP-led states like Wisconsin and Michigan, where “rule” has meant all-out attacks on unions and higher education. You could almost see this repeat itself in Virginia, where the Republican nominee for governor, Ed Gillespie, promised massive tax cuts (while demanding steep spending cuts) had he won the election.

Backed by a network of activist billionaires, the Republican Party has launched an assault on public goods and the public interest, bent on destroying the idea that affluent citizens owe anything to the commons. It’s the return to a Gilded Age ideology, where politicians openly worshipped wealth, and where keeping that wealth in the hands of the wealthy was more critical—and more worthy—than attending to the vulnerable among us.

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Meanwhile, over at the Washington Post, Jeff Stein writes about the next target for these Mondern Day Mauraders who intend to strip many Americans of the benefits they need to live somthat they can line their own pockets and those of their fat cat cronies — all the time laughing at the fools who elected them and counting on their continuing to vote their biases rather than their best interests.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/01/gop-eyes-post-tax-cut-changes-to-welfare-medicare-and-social-security/

“High-ranking Republicans are hinting that, after their tax overhaul, the party intends to look at cutting spending on welfare, entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and other parts of the social safety net.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said recently that he wants Republicans to focus in 2018 on reducing spending on government programs. Last month, President Trump said welfare reform will “take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes,” according to The Washington Examiner.

As Republicans advocate spending cuts, they have frequently cited a need to reduce the national deficit while growing the economy.

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“You also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn’t the driver of our debt. The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said this week.

While whipping votes for a GOP tax bill on Thursday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) attacked “liberal programs” for the poor and said Congress needed to stop wasting Americans’ money.

“We’re spending ourselves into bankruptcy,” Hatch said. “Now, let’s just be honest about it: We’re in trouble. This country is in deep debt. You don’t help the poor by not solving the problems of debt, and you don’t help the poor by continually pushing more and more liberal programs through.”

The GOP tax bill currently under consideration in the Senate would increase the federal deficit by nearly $1.5 trillion over a decade, according to Congress’s official tax analysts and multiple other nonpartisan analysts. When economic growth the measure could create is included in the analysis, Congress’s official tax scorekeeper predicted the bill would add $1 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.

President Trump greets Vice President Pence, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) in July. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump has not clarified which specific programs would be affected by the proposed “welfare reform.”

During the presidential campaign, Trump vowed that there would be “no cuts” to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, although the president has reversed many of his economic campaign promises since taking office.

The remarks from leading Republicans have fueled a growing fear among liberals that the GOP will use higher deficits — in part caused by their tax bill — as a pretext to accomplish the long-held conservative policy objective of cutting government health-care and social-service spending, which the left believes would hit the poor the hardest.

“What’s coming next is all too predictable: The deficit hawks will come flying back after this bill becomes law,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the finance committee. “Republicans are already saying ‘entitlement reform’ and ‘welfare reform’ are next up on the docket. But nobody should be fooled — that’s just code for attacks on Medicaid, on Medicare, on Social Security, on anti-hunger programs.”

On the Senate floor Thursday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked Rubio and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) to promise that Republicans would not advance cuts to Medicare and Social Security after their tax bill. Toomey said that there was “no secret plan” to do so, while Rubio said he opposed cuts to either program for current beneficiaries. However, neither closed the door to changing the programs for future beneficiaries.

“I am not going to support any cuts to people who are on the program and need those benefits. But I want this program to survive,” Toomey said. To which Sanders responded: “He just told you he’s going to cut Social Security.”

Many conservatives have long argued for cutting and changing social safety net programs, arguing that anti-poverty programs have failed and that Social Security spending is growing at an unsustainable rate.

Still, members of both parties have long been reticent to cut benefits, especially for seniors, due in part to the potential political cost of doing so. And in discussing changes, Republicans, including Rubio, have largely confined their ideas to plans that would affect new beneficiaries, rather than current ones.

Still, it may be particularly difficult for Republicans to push those measures ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, in which many in swing states and districts face well-funded Democratic challengers hoping to ride an anti-Trump wave into office.”

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Ah, the party of grifters taking their “Begger Thy Neighbor” strategy to new heights! Because they can! (And the rest of us have let them get away with it.)

PWS

12-01-17

 

IN THE LAWLESS REGIME OF TRUMP & SESSIONS, “RULE OF LAW” REFERS MOSTLY TO LAWS AIMED AT MINORITIES — REGIME PARDONS CONTEMPTOUS, RACIST SCOFFLAW “SHERIFF JOE,” MOCKS ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS, DISREGARDS ETHICS RULES, UNDERMINES HEALTHCARE LAWS, INSULTS FEDERAL JUDGES, TRIES TO INFLUENCE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS OF BUDDIES, IGNORES POLICE MISCONDUCT, & DITCHES PROTECTIONS FOR INNOCENT DEFENDANTS, WHILE THREATENING TO STRIP LAW ABIDING DREAMERS OF LEGAL PROTECTIONS!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/09/the_law_is_just_a_smokescreen_for_trump_ending_daca.html

Jamelle Bouie writes in Slate:

“When President Trump pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio—then under contempt of court for bucking a federal injunction—he defended the action as necessary for the preservation of law and order. Lawmakers and advocacy groups expressed outrage, and for good reason. Arpaio hadn’t been a force for either law or order. Throughout his career, he repeatedly and flagrantly violated the constitutional rights of the men and women in his jails, to say nothing of his racial profiling, measures that consumed resources at the expense of actual crime in his community. Celebrated for his cruelty, Arpaio embodied a homegrown authoritarianism defined by its racism. And in shielding the Arizona sheriff from the legal consequences of his actions, Trump undermined actual rule of law, subjecting it to his whims and prejudices.

It was ironic, then, to see the president cite the rule of law in criticizing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era executive decree that shielded unauthorized immigrants who had come as children from deportation provided they paid a fee, met certain requirements, and registered with the government. Announced in 2012, almost two years after a successful Republican filibuster of legislation that would have the same effect, the consensus among legal scholars is that the action was legal. But President Trump disagrees. “As President, my highest duty to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America,” he said in an official statement. “At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are [a] nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”

His attorney general, Jeff Sessions, echoed Trump’s concerns in announcing the end of DACA. “No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of law,” said Sessions. “To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here.”

But both odes to the rule of law are difficult to square with the rationale for the Arpaio pardon, even if the pardon was clearly permissible under the president’s broad powers. The former sheriff didn’t just break the law: He violated the constitutional rights of American citizens and disobeyed a court order to cease that conduct. A president seriously concerned with rule of law would not claim Arpaio as an ally (as Trump did) much less pardon him of his offenses.

The natural explanation for this inconsistency is that “rule of law” is a smokescreen meant to obscure the actual reason for ending DACA. That reason is Trump’s own nativism—a driving force of his campaign for president, reflected in the cultural and racial anxiety of his voters—and the anti-immigrant ideologies of key advisers like Sessions and Stephen Miller (who was mentored by Sessions in the Senate). Both men hold deeply nativist worldviews and highly restrictionist agendas for immigration, with the goal of limiting and removing as many immigrants as possible, and creating an inhospitable environment for those who remain.

“Law and order” is just a smokescreen for exclusion.
The official statements from Sessions and the White House illustrate those views. The attorney general, for example, stated that DACA—which he called an “open-ended circumvention of immigration laws”—denied jobs to “hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens,” a claim with no basis in fact but in the myth that immigrants take jobs from Americans. Later, Sessions declares that the failure to enforce immigration laws puts “our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism.” This may be true in the general sense, but it has no relevance to the actual policy in question, which deals with those undocumented immigrants who came to the United States through no act of their own, and who seek to live and work in peace. The statement simply serves to associate immigrants with crime and disorder.

The White House statement is even more reliant on anti-immigrant myths. Trump says that DACA contributed to a “massive surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America” that included “young people who would become members of violent gangs throughout our country, such as MS-13.” This, my colleague Mark Joseph Stern finds, is simply false, an allegation “touted by far-right xenophobes.” Later, the president—like Sessions—connects DACA to a “decades-long failure” to enforce immigration law that has led to “the illicit entry of dangerous drugs and criminal cartels” in addition to other ills. Again, there’s little to support this claim other than familiar anti-immigrant tropes.”

**************************************

Read the entire article at the link.

Any time you hear a xenophobic modern day “Jim Crow” like Sessions mention the “rule of law” (which I guess doesn’t apply to sworn testimony before Congress), it’s time to reach for the barf bag (because, according to the law of Sessions, laughing is unlawful). It’s usually followed by some false anti-some-minority narrative read off cue cards written by nativists, Breitbart news, or Stephen Miller (as if there were a distinction).

PWS

09-07-17

 

JAMELLE BOUIE IN SLATE: Trump’s Hypocritical “Defense Of Western Values” Is Really About White Nationalism!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/07/the_white_nationalist_roots_of_donald_trump_s_warsaw_speech.html

Bouie writes:

“Thus far, Donald Trump has governed as a typical Republican president, with the usual suite of tax cuts, deregulation, and conservative nominees for the federal bench. The difference is that unlike his predecessors, Trump isn’t rooted in the tenets of conservativism. Indeed, as a man of id and impulse, it’s hard to say he’s rooted in anything. To the extent that he does have an ideology, it’s a white American chauvinism and its attendant nativism and racism. It was the core of his “birther” crusade against Barack Obama—the claim that for reasons of blood and heritage, Obama couldn’t be legitimate—and the pitch behind his campaign for president. Trump would restore American greatness by erasing the racial legacy of Obama’s presidency: the Hispanic immigration, the Muslim refugees, the black protesters.

Jamelle BouieJAMELLE BOUIE

Jamelle Bouie is Slates chief political correspondent.

This is the reason Trump’s campaign attracted, and his administration employs, men like Jeff Sessions, Stephen Bannon, and Stephen Miller. Sessions, a staunch opponent of federal civil rights enforcement and proponent of radical immigration restriction. Miller, his protégé, whose young career is marked by the same contempt for racial pluralism. Bannon, an entrepreneur with intellectual pretensions whose literary touchstones include virulently racist propaganda, and who brought that sensibility to Breitbart, a news website where “black crime” was a vertical and writers churn out stories on dangerous Muslims. Each shares a vision of a (white) America under siege from Hispanic immigration to the South and Islam to the East. All three are influential in the Trump White House as strategists and propagandists, taking the president’s impulses and molding them into a coherent perspective.

That is the key context for President Trump’s recent remarks in Warsaw, Poland, where he made a defense of “Western civilization.” He praised Poland’s resilience in the face of Nazi aggression and Soviet domination (and stayed quiet on Nazi collaboration within Poland), and celebrated the nation as a beacon of Western values. “A strong Poland is a blessing to the nations of Europe, and they know that. A strong Europe is a blessing to the West and to the world.” (It should be said that U.S. allies in Western Europe are less enthusiastic about the current right-wing Polish government.) From here, Trump presented the West as an empire under siege: “We have to say there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life. You see what’s happening out there. They are threats. We will confront them. We will win.”

Although marked by Trump’s characteristic bombast, much of this was in line with past presidential rhetoric, especially during the Cold War when American presidents routinely engaged in this kind of clash of civilizations rhetoric. (It is unclear, though, if previous presidents would have endorsed a narrative that erases victims of Polish anti-Semitism.)

But this isn’t the Cold War. The Soviet Union no longer exists. For Trump then, what are these “dire threats”? The chief one is “radical Islamic terrorism” exported by groups like ISIS. But he doesn’t end there. For Trump, these threats are broader than particular groups or organizations; they are internal as well as external.

“We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition that make us who we are,” said Trump. “If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit, and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies.”

Not content to leave his message understated, Trump hammered home this idea in a subsequent line. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” said the president, before posing a series of questions: “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”

In the context of terrorism specifically, a deadly threat but not an existential one, this is overheated. But it’s clear Trump has something else in mind: immigration. He’s analogizing Muslim migration to a superpower-directed struggle for ideological conquest. It’s why he mentions “borders,” why he speaks of threats from “the South”—the origin point of Hispanic immigrants to the United States and Muslim refugees to Europe—and why he warns of internal danger.

This isn’t a casual turn. In these lines, you hear the influence of Bannon and Miller. The repeated references to Western civilization, defined in cultural and religious terms, recall Bannon’s 2014 presentation to a Vatican conference, in which he praised the “forefathers” of the West for keeping “Islam out of the world.” Likewise, the prosaic warning that unnamed “forces” will sap the West of its will to defend itself recalls Bannon’s frequent references to the Camp of the Saints, an obscure French novel from 1973 that depicts a weak and tolerant Europe unable to defend itself from a flotilla of impoverished Indians depicted as grotesque savages and led by a man who eats human feces.

For as much as parts of Trump’s speech fit comfortably in a larger tradition of presidential rhetoric, these passages are clear allusions to ideas and ideologies with wide currency on the white nationalist right.

Defenders of the Warsaw speech call this reading “hysterical,” denying any ties between Trump’s rhetoric in Poland and white nationalism. But to deny this interpretation of the speech, one has to ignore the substance of Trump’s campaign, the beliefs of his key advisers, and the context of Poland itself and its anti-immigrant, ultranationalist leadership. One has to ignore the ties between Bannon, Miller, and actual white nationalists, and disregard the active circulation of those ideas within the administration. And one has to pretend that there isn’t a larger intellectual heritage that stretches back to the early 20thcentury, the peak of American nativism, when white supremacist thinkers like Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard penned works with language that wouldn’t feel out of place in Trump’s address.

“Unless we set our house in order, the doom will sooner or later overtake us all. And that would mean that the race obviously endowed with he greatest creative ability, the race which had achieved most in the past and which gave the richer promise for the future, had passed away, carrying with it to the grave those potencies upon which the realization of man’s highest hopes depends,” wrote Stoddard in his 1920 book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy. Compare this to the crest of Trump’s remarks in Warsaw, which follows his warning of internal threat and his praise of Western civilization:

What we have, what we inherited from our—and you know this better than anybody, and you see it today with this incredible group of people—what we’ve inherited from our ancestors has never existed to this extent before. And if we fail to preserve it, it will never, ever exist again.

Those lines fit comfortably into a long history of white nationalist rhetoric. They in no way resemble Ronald Reagan’s words in Berlin or John Kennedy’s speeches in defense of the “free world.”

To read those previous presidential speeches is to see what makes Trump distinctive. Kennedy and Reagan defined “the West” in ideological terms—a world of free elections and free markets. It’s an inclusive view; presumably, any country that adopts these institutions enters that community of nations. For Trump, “the West” is defined by ties of culture and religion. It’s why a government that disdains democratic institutions, like Poland’s, can still stand as a vanguard of Western civilization, and why Muslim immigration is a chief threat to the integrity of Europe. What makes this racial is its relationship to Trump’s other rhetoric. If Western civilization is defined by religion and culture, then Mexico—with its Catholic heritage and historic ties to European monarchies—is unquestionably an outpost of “the West.” But for Trump and his advisers, it too is a threat to the Western order.

Donald Trump went to Europe and, in keeping with his campaign and influences, gave a speech with clear links to white nationalist thought. To pretend otherwise, to ignore the context of this address—to place Trump in a vacuum of history and politics, divorced from his own persona—is, at best, to cross the line into willful ignorance.”

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Trump has clearly shown himself to be a person of no values whatsoever. Although his xenophobic, white nationalist/racist agenda appears to be little more that political opportunism — parroting concepts developed by Sessions, Bannon, Miller & company — that doesn’t make it any less problematic — or dangerous.

PWS

07-07-17

 

BREAKING: GOP SENATORS ANNOUNCE PLAN TO TRASH HEALTH CARE FOR 10S OF MILLIONS OF AMERICANS, FUND MORE TAX BREAKS FOR RICH CRONIES! — Why? — Because They CAN!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/06/why_the_gop_would_pass_an_objectively_bad_health_care_bill.html

 writes in Slate:

“It is difficult to overstate the sheer unpopularity of the American Health Care Act, the Republican Party’s plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. And it’s not hard to understand why the bill is so unpopular. What’s mystifying is why Republicans insist on passing it, acting as if there won’t be political consequences for a plan that promises pain for tens of millions of Americans.

Jamelle BouieJAMELLE BOUIE

Jamelle Bouie is Slates chief political correspondent.

At Obamacare’s least popular moment, in the fall of 2014, 56 percent of Americans held a negative view of the law, versus 37 percent who approved. Compare that with the Republican version of the AHCA that passed the House of Representatives in early May. In a recent survey from CBS News, 59 percent of Americans disapprove of the GOP proposal, versus 32 percent who approve. A Roper Center analysis shows the proposal with just 29 percent support, making it the most unpopular piece of legislation Congress has considered in decades. And its unpopularity isn’t just a function of blue states like California, New York, and Illinois—there is no state in the union where a majority of voters support the bill.

If the AHCA ends up improving outcomes for Americans—if it delivers affordable health insurance or protects families from medical bankruptcy—it might recover some popularity in the implementation, as was true with the Affordable Care Act, which now has majority support. But we know from the Congressional Budget Office’s evaluation of the House bill that it would increase the number of uninsured by an estimated 23 million people; there are no signs the Senate version will be any less damaging. What’s more, the AHCA may upend the employer health market as well; its deregulatory measures could result in lifetime limits and substantially higher out-of-pocket costs for people who receive insurance through work. The universe of people potentially left worse off by the Republican bill is close to a cross-section of the American public: salaried employees, ordinary workers who rely on the Obamacare exchanges, and the millions of low-income people, children, elderly, and disabled Americans who rely on Medicaid.

Under most circumstances, this would be the ballgame. As a general matter, lawmakers don’t pass hugely unpopular legislation that might harm constituents in such a direct way. It’s easy to say that, for House and Senate Republicans, their “constituents” are those wealthy Americans who receive huge tax cuts under the bill. Still, it’s also true that winning donors isn’t the same as winning elections. Politicians don’t need to value the public interest to reject a bill like the AHCA; a survival instinct should be enough.

Which gets to what’s mystifying about the present situation. If the health care bill becomes law, there’s every indication the Republican Party will suffer for passing it. It is already responsible for a substantial and so-far enduring decline in the president’s approval rating, and it is fueling grass-roots opposition to the already-unpopular Trump administration. If Republicans face an increasingly difficult environment for the 2018 general election, it is at least in part because of the AHCA. And yet, Republicans are intent on passing the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has cannily adopted an unprecedentedlysecretive process meant to insulate the proposal from criticism and expedite its passage. There have been no hearings and no debate. The plan, as it exists, is for a one-week period of public input before Congress votes.

It’s likely that Republicans know the bill is unpopular and are doing everything they can to keep the public from seeing its contents before passing it. As we saw with the Affordable Care Act, the longer the process, the greater the odds for a major backlash. But this presupposes a pressing need to pass the American Health Care Act, which isn’t the case, outside of a “need” to slash Medicaid, thus paving the way for large-scale, permanent tax cuts. The Republican health care bill doesn’t solve any urgent problem in the health care market, nor does it represent any coherent vision for the health care system; it is a hodgepodge of cuts and compromises, designed to pass a GOP Congress more than anything. It is policy without any actual policy. At most, it exists to fulfill a promise to “repeal Obamacare” and cut taxes.

Perhaps that’s enough to explain the zeal to pass the bill. Republicans made a promise, and there are forces within the party—from hyperideological lawmakers and conservative activists to right-wing media and Republican base voters—pushing them toward this conclusion. When coupled with the broad Republican hostility to downward redistribution and the similarly broad commitment to tax cuts, it makes sense that the GOP would continue to pursue this bill despite the likely consequences.

But ultimately it’s not clear the party believes it would face those consequences. The 2018 House map still favors Republicans, and the party is defending far fewer Senate seats than Democrats. Aggressively gerrymandered districts provide another layer of defense, as does voter suppression, and the avalanche of spending from outside groups. Americans might be hurt and outraged by the effects of the AHCA, but those barriers blunt the electoral impact.

The grounds for political combat seem to have changed as well. If recent special elections are any indication—where GOP candidates refused to comment on signature GOP policies—extreme polarization means Republicans can mobilize supporters without being forced to talk about or account for their actual actions. Identity, for many voters, matters more than their pocketbooks. Republicans simply need to signal their disdain—even hatred—for their opponents, political or otherwise. Why worry about the consequences of your policies when you can preclude defeat by changing the ground rules of elections, spending vast sums, and stoking cultural resentment?

It seems, then, that we have an answer for Republicans insist on moving forward with the American Health Care Act. Because they can. And who is going to stop them?”

Here’s some analysis of the GOP Senate Bill from the Washington Post:

“The Senate proposal largely mirrors the House measure with significant differences, according to a discussion draft circulating Wednesday among aides and lobbyists. While the House legislation would peg federal insurance subsidies to age, the Senate bill would link them to income, as the ACA does.

The Senate measure would cut off expanded Medicaid funding for states more gradually than the House bill but would enact deeper long-term cuts to the health-care program for low-income Americans. It also would eliminate House language aimed at prohibiting federally subsidized health plans from covering abortions, a provision that may run afoul of complex Senate budget rules.

But McConnell faces the prospect of an open revolt from key conservative and moderate GOP senators, whose concerns he has struggled to balance in recent weeks. Republicans familiar with the effort said Senate leaders have more work to do to secure the 50 votes needed to pass the measure, with Vice President Pence set to cast the tiebreaking vote, from the pool of 52 GOP senators. No Democrats are expected to support the bill.

According to two Republicans in close contact with Senate GOP leadership granted anonymity to describe private conversations, McConnell is threatening to bring the bill to a vote next week even if he doesn’t have the votes to pass it. But some believe that message is aimed at trying to pressure Republicans to support the bill, rather than an absolute commitment. A McConnell spokeswoman declined to comment.

Republican aides stressed that their plan is likely to undergo more changes to secure the votes needed for passage, but there were major concerns Wednesday from senators on opposite ends of the GOP spectrum.

“My main concern is I promised voters that I would repeal — vote to repeal Obamacare. And everything I hear sounds like Obamacare-lite,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), whose state expanded Medicaid and has been pushing for a more gradual unwinding of that initiative than many conservatives prefer, said she is waiting to scrutinize what is released but has not seen anything yet that would make her drop her concerns with the proposal.

“Up to this point, I don’t have any new news — tomorrow we will see it definitively — that would cause me to change that sentiment,” she said.

Like the House bill, the Senate measure is expected to make big changes to Medicaid, the program that insures about 74 million elderly and lower-income Americans and was expanded in most states under the ACA. In effect, the revisions would reduce federal spending on the program.

The Senate measure would transform Medicaid from an open-ended entitlement to one in which federal funding would be distributed to states on a per capita basis. The Senate measure would also seek to phase out the program’s expansion — although at a more gradual rate than the House version.

Yet the Senate bill would go further than the House version in its approach to cutting Medicaid funding in the future. In 2025, the measure would tie federal spending on the program to an even slower growth index than the one used in the House bill. That move could prompt states to reduce the size of their Medicaid programs.”

Here’s a link to the complete Post article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/senate-gop-leaders-set-to-unveil-health-care-bill/2017/06/22/56dbe35c-5734-11e7-a204-ad706461fa4f_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_healthcare835am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.31690d0232b7

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As long as folks stubbornly keep voting for their own demise, that is, against their own best interests, Trump and the GOP are going to take them to the cleaners every time. The GOP Congressional leadership has “bought into” the Trump “Time Square” theory:   “There’s absolutely nothing that we could do that would make these folks vote against us. And, we’re going to take full advantage of them by sticking it to them just like they were Democrats or minorities (or both).”

I suppose if it works, why not line your pockets (and those of your buddies) to the full extent possible at the expense of the People until the party ends (which it might never do — and, if it does, the GOP will be laughing all the way to the bank)?

PWS

06-22-17