Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive! (Sir Walter Scott)
For seven years, the Republicans lied about Obamacare, and whipped their base into a frenzy about what a terrible thing it is for the government to move the United States closer to doing for its citizens what every other advanced society does for their people: provide decent, affordable health care.
More than 50 times, they repealed this bill, which was designed to change the status quo in which some 45,000 Americans died every year because of the way our society fails its citizens, as nowhere else in the free world.
Today, the House has passed a bill — in great haste, lest the truth catch up with them before they could perpetrate yet another fraud — to “repeal and replace” Obamacare– just as they’d promised.
Here’s what I imagine was their political calculation.
Because of their lies, there’s nothing they can do that is without political costs.
“Democrats plan to tattoo every provision of this bill to the foreheads of Republicans. “You will glow in the dark,’ Pelosi said,” Huffington Post reports.
That will be one cost.
But the almost certain death of the bill in the Senate protects them against the higher costs that would come were the bill to be enacted and tens of millions of people started to suffer and die as a result of the terrible Republican retooling of America’s health care system.
The Republican lawmakers will suffer, in other words, only for the more abstract reality of having supported something terrible rather than for the palpable reality of Americans actually experiencing in their lives the terrible thing the Republicans today voted to inflict on them.*
Against that cost, they had to weigh the costs of quite visibly failing to keep that promise — repeated so many times, over so many years — to slay the Monster that they’ve painted the Affordable Care Act as being.
Having “failed” to deliver on their fraudulent promise, in other words, would be more visible to their base than the terrible realities of this law, if today’s bill never actually changes anything.
That’s why some “moderate” Republicans were willing to pretend that yesterday’s $8 billion to deal with the withdrawal of protections for people with pre-existing conditions was more than an almost-empty gesture.
So to cover up their old frauds, they’ve now committed yet another fraud. This looks like one more “repeal” of Obamacare that is pure manipulative political theater (as well as really a way of taking almost a trillion dollars out of health care to give to the richest people in America as a tax cut).
None of this will look good. When the CBO report comes out, the devastation this bill would inflict will become clear. They’ve just chosen what they think is the least politically costly path available.
What a web they’ve woven for themselves, having been dishonest about health care reform since Obama became president.
*I am assuming that this bill will not pass the Senate. If the House Republicans do not share that assumption, then my analysis of their political calculations is also incorrect.