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Republicans' pursuit of Obamacare is basically a shot-for-shot remake of a Roadrunner cartoon

September 21, 2017

Ahab and the whale. Iago and Othello. Khan and Kirk. Donald Trump and his deathly ill grandnephew with cerebral palsy.

 

All classic revenge stories. All terribly tragic.

 

You can add to that list congressional Republicans and Obamacare.

Actually, come to think of it, that’s not so much a revenge story as a Looney Tunes cartoon. Republicans don’t really know why they hate making it easier for poor and sick people to get health insurance; they just do.

 

Why does Elmer chase Bugs? Why does Wile E. Coyote have it in for the Roadrunner? No particular reason — it’s just who they are. And what have Republicans been for that past eight years besides stooges for the 1 percent and clownish foils for that thing they hate? It dares to exist, so it must be destroyed. It doesn’t matter how many times they have to shoot themselves in the face, they’re determined to kill this thing and replace it with this other thing that no one has read or understands.

 

Just don’t ask them to explain what this second thing is, and for God’s sake don’t ask Donald Trump about it. He’s too busy making the world safe for cockroaches.

 

They wanted to kill it from the start, even though it was largely based on conservative and Republican ideas.

 

They voted to repeal it more than 50 times, even though they knew their efforts would be repeatedly vetoed.

 

They sabotaged it at every turn, bringing lawsuits designed to cripple itweakening the risk corridors that were intended to stabilize the insurance markets; refusing to accept Medicaid expansion, which would have not only insured millions of poor people in nonparticipating states but would have also made premiums more affordable for people on the exchanges; and more recently, convincing the angry haggis they elected president to slash Obamacare outreach funds and threaten to stop vital CSR payments.

 

And let’s not forget the repeal-and-replace efforts. Since they’d been bitterly complaining about Obamacare for seven years, they must have had a great boilerplate bill that they could have easily passed with the enthusiastic support of their new majority.

 

Um, no. You know that dream you sometimes have where you’ve shown up for your final but realize you went the whole semester without going to class or studying? That’s been the Republican reality for the past seven months.

 

The first bill was terrible, and would have thrown 23 million off the insurance rolls.

 

The revised bill was worse — 24 million Americans would have lost their insurance.

 

The insurance industry deemed the Senate version’s Cruz amendment “simply unworkable in any form,” perhaps because the pages were stuck together.

 

The “skinny repeal” wasn’t so much a bill as a plea for a deus ex machina from the all-knowing health care fairies. In short, it was a way of kicking the health care can down the road by passing a terrible bill in hopes that the House — which had already passed its own horrible, poor person-killing bill — would somehow find a way to fix it. And as we all know, that train wreck was barely averted.

 

So what we saw was a series of political blunders masquerading as health care bills in which the predicted outcomes somehow kept getting worse, despite the GOP’s determination to fix the trail of awful messes they’d created.

 

Now Republicans have once again poured out their little mound of free bird seed and lined the road with Acme TNT, and they’re certain that maybe, perhaps, with a little luck, their latest Obamacare trap won’t blow up in their faces. 

 

Their latest effort, the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson-Fuck-You-Poors bill, promises to be the worst of all.

 

Vox’s Sarah Kliff, who has covered the various Obamacare repeal efforts from the beginning, says it’s the most radical plan yet:

 

While other Republican plans essentially create a poorly funded version of the Affordable Care Act, Graham-Cassidy blows it up. The bill offered by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy takes money from states that did a good job getting residents covered under Obamacare and gives it to states that did not. It eliminates an expansion of the Medicaid program that covers millions of Americans in favor of block grants. States aren’t required to use the money to get people covered or to help subsidize low- and middle-income earners, as Obamacare does now.

 

Plus, the bill includes other drastic changes that appeared in some previous bills. Insurers in the private marketplace would be allowed to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, for example. And it would eliminate the individual mandate as other bills would have, but this time there is no replacement. Most analysts agree that would inject chaos into the individual market.

 

Taken together, these components add up to a sweeping proposal sure to upend the American health care system. Because the Senate hasn’t seen an independent analysis yet from the Congressional Budget Office, I can’t even say for sure how sweeping, and neither can any of the Republicans who have come out in support of it.

 

How is it possible that a bill that was so bad that only 12 percent of Americans supported it — 12 percent! — could actually be degrees of magnitude better than the bill the Senate is currently considering as a last-ditch effort to “keep its promise to the American people”?

Compared to congressional Republicans, Wile E. Coyote really is a super genius.

 

But give them some credit: They really know how to build to a climax for dramatic effect.

 

Enjoy the explosion. It will either come next week when the GOP fails to pass one of the worst bills ever to plop into the halls of Congress, or next year when Republicans have to explain what exactly they’ve been trying to accomplish for the past eight years.

 

 

 

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