Republicans know they want to cut taxes on the wealthy and corporations, but they don't know how to pay for their plan. As we discussed in some detail on Monday, that poses a major procedural challenge for GOP policymakers, leaving them with limited options.
Yesterday in the Senate, Republicans apparently made a decision.
To help pay for the GOP tax bill, Republican Senate leaders announced Tuesday that they plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act's requirement that Americans maintain health coverage. [...]
"We're optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal (into the tax bill) would be helpful," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters after a caucus meeting.
Helpful for whom? In this case, the answer is obvious: the real beneficiaries are Republicans desperate to pass tax cuts for people who don't need them.
There's no great mystery as to what's driving the GOP's motivations on this. The party has long opposed the individual mandate in "Obamacare," and by scrapping the policy, Republicans will have an additional $338 billion over the next decade to pay for more tax breaks. For Donald Trump and his allies, it's the best of both worlds: the GOP is gutting the health care law they love to hate, and using the money to cut taxes on millionaires, billionaires, and corporations.
But the details matter: the Congressional Budget Office has already told Congress that repealing the ACA's individual mandate will destabilize the insurance market, force many consumers to pay higher premiums, and end coverage for 13 million Americans over the next 10 years.
Indeed, the reason this move would save $338 billion is because the federal government would be paying less to provide coverage for millions of families.
What we're left with is practically a caricature of Republican policymaking: under the Republican tax plan, the rich would pay less, many in the middle class would pay more, millions would lose their health care benefits in order to help finance tax breaks for the wealthy, and many who keep their coverage would end up facing higher costs.
And it's likely to pass anyway -- because Republicans have convinced themselves that this will make the party more popular with voters.