It is a mark of our Republican leaders that they do not like responsibility. Trump and his spokespersons repeatedly deny that he is responsible for his words and even chide the press for holding him accountable for what he says. But the problem is bigger than Trump: the whole party seems to think good governance means shucking responsibility off to the states, despite knowing full well they are asking of the states much more than is possible for them.
America is in the bizarre position of having elected governmental leaders who are enemies of the government.
The so-called “healthcare” debate (it is really an insurance debate, not a healthcare debate) is a good example. Think of how strange it is that the Republicans have been avowed enemies of Obamacare since before it began, yet all these years later we learn they hadn’t even begun preparing an improved plan. There is no imaginable measurement by which to evaluate such total irresponsibility. And there certainly is no excuse for it.
I have problems with the Republican plans in three important areas: MOTIVE, PROCESS, and CONTENT.
MOTIVE To understand the tremendous push to make Obamacare fail so that they have an excuse to replace and repeal, we need only recall that shortly after Obama took office in 2009, the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, said his party’s only job for the next four years was to make sure Obama was not re-elected in four years. Their blind resistance to anything connected to Obama has been stubborn and often evil as they have resorted to lies, distortions, and ignominious propaganda to make sure that neither citizens nor insurance companies would support Obamacare. It is extremely difficult to avoid the observation that resistance to Obama has been strongest in states where racism continues to be a major dimension of the culture.
PROCESS The extreme ineptitude shown by the Republicans since January 20 reflects badly on another statement by McConnell, uttered shortly after the Republicans gained the congressional majority. He said, “Now we’ll show that Republicans know how to run a government.” In fact, they have been surprisingly incompetent in knowing how to run their own party and have done nothing to benefit the country. The House stumbled its way into passing a bill which only Paul Ryan claims to like. It favors the people who need the least help (especially the wealthy) and puts a far greater burden on those who need the most help. In a democracy that exists — or so we think — “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” the House bill has a terrible stench about it. The Senate bill has made a few very shallow changes to create the illusion that it is kinder to those in greatest need but it remains an utterly heartless imposition on those who need insurance the most. Clearly one of the highest and most inviolable values of the Republican Party is to remove all burdens from the wealthy. It is, then, no wonder that the Senate committee worked in secret, knowing that they were producing a shameful bill that could not withstand debate even among Republicans.
CONTENT The content of both the House and the Senate versions of the healthcare bill reveal a truly unimaginable failure to grasp the most basic understanding of the nature and purpose of insurance. As I’ve written earlier (March 26 and 27, 2017), the insurance industry runs a legitimate business overcharging healthy people so that they will have enough funds to make a profit and pay the expenses of those who need the most expensive help. The Republicans, seeking to put a greater burden on those who need the most help, prove that they simply do not know what an insurance company is. Their ignorance is appalling and inexcusable.
Paul Ryan’s repeated defense of the House bill as giving unforced access to healthcare for all is pure deceit. If I offer you an insurance plan that costs 50% of your income and then claim I’ve “given you access,” I speak with forked tongue. The House and Senate plans very obviously decrease accessibility for millions of Americans. To claim otherwise is to dwell in the land of alternative facts.
It is sad to see the wealthiest nation the planet has ever seen becoming more and more like a Third World power dominated by selfishness and self-centeredness as personified by our national leaders.