It's not exactly a secret that Republicans hate the Affordable Care Act with every fiber of being -- or at least they claim to. It's never been altogether clear why GOP officials are so disgusted with the reform law, but when asked, Republicans tend to have some key complaints at the ready.
"Obamacare," they argue, doesn't cover enough people and it costs consumers too much. With this in mind, Republican officeholders and candidates have spent years pleading with the American electorate: give the GOP power and they'll make the health care system better. How? They've been reluctant to say for the last seven years.
It's now painfully clear why. The new proposal from Senate Republicans is stunning in a wide variety of ways, but perhaps the most striking takeaway is the degree to which it's a substantive non-sequitur. The Republicans' purported goals and their proposed legislation have almost nothing in common. Vox's Ezra Klein explained yesterday:
The Senate GOP's health care bill is a strange document. It doesn't fix what conservatives dislike most about Obamacare. But it takes what everyone else hates about Obamacare and makes it much, much worse. [...]The new world created by the Senate health care bill will be based around higher-deductible plans that cover fewer health benefits and cost people more. The plan degrades Obamacare's insurance regulations, and cuts insurance subsidies so that Americans won't be able to afford plans as generous as the ones they purchase now. If the Medicaid expansion really does die out in 2024, then the poorest of the poor will be pushed from comprehensive, low-cost health insurance to extremely high-deductible plans.
Obviously, the scope and scale of the damage this legislation would impose on the nation is what matters most, but it's also worth pausing to appreciate the pernicious dishonesty that serves as the bill's foundation.
There's no meaningful connection between what Republicans say is wrong with the health care system and what they're proposing. GOP officials said the Affordable Care Act doesn't cover enough people, so they're pushing a plan that covers fewer people. Republicans said the costs for consumers under "Obamacare" are too high, so they're advocating a new system that would force consumers to pay more.
In other words, their questions and their answers don't match. Republicans, concerned about a simmering fire, are trying to put it out with a flamethrower.
That may sound insane, but it's also an accurate reflection of the circumstances we find ourselves in.
This doesn't even require any leaps or suppositions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told everyone, in detail, exactly what he doesn't like about the Affordable Care Act in a speech earlier this year: "[W]hat you need to understand is that there are 25 million Americans who aren't covered now. If the idea behind Obamacare was to get everyone covered, that's one of the many failures. In addition to premiums going up, co-payments going up, deductibles going up. And many Americans who actually did get insurance when they did not have it before have really bad insurance that they have to pay for, and the deductibles are so high that it's really not worth much to them."
On every point McConnell raised -- literally, each of them -- the Republicans' Senate leader has proposed a "solution" that makes the problems worse. No exceptions.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but we're witnessing legislative madness. It's like trying to treat a headache with a hammer, or fixing a flat tire with a machete. This is an awful proposal, to be sure, but it's also nonsensical by any sane standard.