The God-King and Speaker Paul Ryan are going all-out to sell the GOP’s Wealthcare Act…. (More)
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”
“This is the chance. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said the speaker, roving the stage with a wireless mic, gesturing at both the audience in front of him and the PowerPoint presentation behind him.
TED Talk? Late-night infomercial? Nope – it was House Speaker Paul Ryan, making a hard pitch for his health care plan after a week of loud conservative criticism.
The White House is convinced that it can bring around skeptics of the bill in the House and the Senate – one reason why Trump is stepping up his engagement, with high-profile meetings with leading GOP figures in the debate.
“He gets the complexity of this,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a sell for him,” the official said, adding that Trump sees himself as the ultimate deal maker and “I think he’s willing to cut deals,” to get this legislation passed, the official said.
Trump said Thursday that people should ignore the skeptics and opposition.
Despite what you hear in the press, healthcare is coming along great. We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2017
Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer denied the White House was rushing the bill despite the frenzied atmosphere on Capitol Hill.
“If members have ideas, we want to hear them, we want them to be part of it. This isn’t getting jammed through.”
Well, except it is:
President Trump will not be “receptive” to a “wholesale replacement” of Republicans’ current proposed healthcare bill, a White House official speaking on background told The Daily Caller.
The official said the White House wasn’t entirely surprised when conservative political groups like Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity and Club for Growth came out against the American Health Care Act, expressing hope that certain “tweaks” to the bill will win over skeptical conservatives, as long as they don’t expect too much.
“If some of these groups want a wholesale replacement of the bill, that’s not going to happen,” the official cautioned. “President Trump wouldn’t be receptive to that.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan staked out a similar position on Thursday, saying the AHCA is “the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare.”
In his PowerPoint pitch, Speaker Ryan added: “This is a binary choice.”
So yeah, it’s take-it-or-leave-it.
“Ryan made a series of misleading statements”
Of course everyone knows Speaker Ryan is a serious policy wonk who knows his stuff and that’s complete hooey. In fact, just yesterday he basically admitted he has not the foggiest idea how insurance works:
The problem with Obamacare, Ryan claimed in this presentation, is that “the young healthy person is going to be made to buy health care and they’re going to pay for the person who gets breast cancer in her 40s or heart disease in their 50s.” He then pointed to a pie chart showing a thin red slice cut into a larger blue pie.
The red slice here are what I would call people with preexisting conditions. People who have real health-care problems. The blue is the rest of the people in the individual market - that’s the market where people don’t get health insurance at their jobs where they buy it themselves. The whole idea of Obamacare is the people on the blue side pay for the people on the red side. The people who are healthy pay for the people who are sick.
ThinkProgress’ Ian Milhiser goes on to explain:
Well, yes, that is the whole idea of Obamacare. It’s also the whole idea of any form of insurance of any kind whatsoever.
Think of it this way. Imagine that 1,000 people all buy the same car insurance policy. Over the course of the year, ten of them get in car accidents that cost $10,000 each.
If none of them were insured, the ten unlucky drivers would each be stuck with a $10,000 bill, while the other 990 drivers would pay nothing. The entire point of insurance, however, is to spread this cost around to everyone in the insurance pool. So each driver would instead pay at least $100 in premiums, regardless of whether they were in an accident, and then this money would be redistributed to the ten unlucky individuals with high auto repair bills.
All insurance works this way. Car insurance redistributes wealth from people who aren’t in accidents to people who are. Fire insurance redistributes wealth from people whose houses did not burn down to people whose houses did burn down. Flood insurance redistributes wealth from people who are dry to people whose belongings are soaking wet. And yes, health insurance redistributes wealth from people who are healthy to people who are sick.
But in making his case, Ryan made a series of misleading statements, both about the current state of Obamacare and the details of the replacement bill. Three stand out:
First, Speaker Ryan cherry-picked the states where health insurance premiums rose the most last year. He didn’t mention the many other states where premiums rose hardly at all, or even declined. And he definitely didn’t mention that the ACA’s premium subsidy – unlike the Wealthcare Act’s flat tax credit – is indexed to local premium increases.
Second, he claimed Obamacare is in a “death spiral,” when it’s simply not. Yes, some insurers have pulled out …
But they aren’t a large enough decline to precipitate a death spiral, economists have said. And there are even signs that the market is stabilizing: S&P projected smaller losses for insurers in 2017 than in 2016.
And then there’s this whopper:
Ryan also claimed Thursday that “Obamacare produces job lock,” pointing to a 2014 Congressional Budget Office report as evidence. Ryan gets this exactly wrong. Job lock is an economic term for when a person cannot leave a job for fear of losing health insurance. A 59-year-old with a pre-existing condition who wants to retire may keep working to afford insurance, or a 30-year-old would-be entrepreneur may forgo starting his own business because of insurance costs. This was a problem with the health insurance system before Obamacare, which the current law went a long way toward solving. Ryan has this backward when he says Obamacare produces job lock.
Ryan and his Republican colleagues have long criticized this element of Obamacare, and Ryan said Thursday that the GOP bill avoids this pitfall. “We don’t want federal tax law or tax credits to ever encourage a person not to advance, not to get a raise, not to take a job,” he explained. But the Republican health care plan actually does do that. In their legislation, tax credits phase out starting at $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for families. Those income thresholds are higher than the thresholds under Obamacare. But they still will cause families to lose subsidies as their income increases—and it won’t just happen for people making a million dollars, as Ryan suggested Thursday.
The problem is that Speaker Ryan and Republicans hate the fact that Obamacare let lots of people leave jobs to stay home with kids, or start their own businesses, or take early retirement. Those people have a duty to work, because freedom or … umm … uhh.
“The linchpin of #Trumpcare”
Speaker Ryan even lied about the Wealthcare Act being able to pass the Senate with just 51 votes:
Remember, the linchpin of #Trumpcare – the penalty on people who lose coverage – needs 60 votes. Bill falls apart without that provision.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 9, 2017
Through reconciliation, the Senate may enact changes to the nation’s fiscal policy by a simple majority vote - shifts in how the United States spends money and most changes to the tax code, for example. But reconciliation cannot be used for regulatory changes, including most laws that govern how private parties conduct their business. These changes must meet the traditional 60-vote threshold in the Senate to overcome a filibuster.
Most of the House Republican bill deals with cuts to Medicaid, cuts to tax credits that help many low-to-middle income Americans afford health insurance, tax cuts for wealthy Americans, and subsidies for families earning as much as $150,000. These provisions deal primarily with outlays and revenues, and thus are likely to comply with the Byrd Rule.
But a provision governing how much private health insurers may charge private health consumers does not. It is neither a taxing or spending provision. And, while it may have some marginal impact on the government’s balance sheet, that impact would only be incidental to its non-budgetary function, which is to regulate the insurance market.
Cruz says that Republicans don’t need to fire parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough if she rules that GOP-favored reforms, such as allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines or repealing the mandate on insurance companies to provide coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions, must meet a 60-vote, instead of a 51-vote, threshold.
He says Pence can simply make his own interpretation of Senate rules and set aside the parliamentarian’s advice if he disagrees.
“You don’t have to override the parliamentarian or get a new parliamentarian,” Cruz said. “Under the statute, it is the vice president who rules. It is the presiding officer who makes the decision. The parliamentarian advises on that question.”
It would be difficult for Democrats to overturn Pence’s decisions. They would need to muster 60 votes to reverse him, and they only control 48 seats, including the Independents who caucus with them.
In other words, screw the rules to screw the people.
Yep, that sounds like Republicans….
Photo Credit: Zach Gibson (Getty Images)
Good day and good nuts