So. That health care bill. Quite a little show, wasn’t it?
Republicans campaigned for years on repealing Obamacare, House Republicans in fact voted many times to do so, and President Trump promised to get rid of the thing and replace it with something better (a ‘something’ that would somehow provide better health care to more people at a lower cost).
Then Paul Ryan went and advanced a bill that delivered on the ‘lower cost’ promise at the expense of the ‘better health care’ and ‘more people’ promises.
Understandably, this was unacceptable to moderate Republicans from swing districts, who knew that their constituents would care more about actually having health care than achieving the abstract of repealing Obamacare. Yet Ryan’s bill was also unacceptable to far-right Republicans, who were serious about their oft-stated goal of repealing Obamacare and the subsidies that make it possible.
So over the course of a couple of weeks, despite many assurances that all would proceed as planned, the whole thing fell apart.
Go figure. Republicans could not deliver the undeliverable. They could not wrangle their own party members (let alone Congress at large) into submission in a matter of days.
They couldn’t make real life resemble the simplicity of campaign promises.
And that’s the lesson I think we should take from this.
In this whole swirling mess of frustration with politics and politicians, in the movement to drive out the old-hands / ‘drain the swamp’ / replace the whole lot with outsiders, we’ve lost something important: a sense of the possible. We’ve been rewarding those who make the wildest, most gut-satisfying claims. We’ve been huddling around those who tell us what we want to hear. We’ve been accepting the impossible because we like how it sounds.
There is no way to provide better healthcare to more people for less money. That’s not how the real world works.
If you are serious about your desire to cut the federal government’s costs and you are consistent enough to accept the consequences (i.e. maybe don’t rely on Medicaid to pay for Grandma’s nursing home bill) – I guess I can accept that.
If you care more about the government acting as a well-functioning safety net and you are consistent enough to willingly pay the (higher) taxes that will make that possible – I can accept that too.
But you and I, we have to stop acting like we can have it both ways. The U.S. Government doesn’t have a spending problem because it throws money at a bunch of undeserving people and liberal arts projects. The government has a problem because we expect it to keep delivering the Social Security checks, the Medicare coverage, and the Medicaid payments (the bulk of which go to the elderly and disabled – not just the poor) our friends and family members rely on, but we don’t want to pay the taxes to support them.
We’re never going to get anywhere by believing the “you can have it all” campaign promises meant to draw in our votes and our donations. One of these days we’re going to have to wake up and face the uncomfortable realities awaiting us.
I guess on health care, at least, we just haven’t reached that day.
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March 31, 2017 11:07
By Julie Walsh