Saturday, March 25, 2017

TrumpCare Flops - Will The "Fuhrer's" Tax Code Effort Be Next?

Image result for brane space, Trump rage
"The Democrats are to blame for Trumpcare going down! The Democrats are to blame! BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!"

Let's admit that if I deliberately give you a 44-stone advantage  playing 'GO',  the onus is on you to win, i.e. surround my men so they've no place to move and do so pretty quickly. No excuses! Given this sort of handicap, if you still lose, then you are the one to blame.  Even with a massive piece (and position) advantage you were not competent enough to marshal your forces to best advantage and instead let victory slip through your fingers.

In like manner, if your political party enjoys a 44-seat advantage in the House of Representatives, the largest in modern history, then the onus is on your party to get its desired piece of legislation passed. It is emphatically NOT on my party to lend you its numbers or support, especially if your legislation is designed to repeal my party's original bill.   If you blame my party because your party failed - though they enjoyed a 44-seat advantage- then you are either an idiot, psychotic, stoned drug addict  or drunk.

But such was the case yesterday after Trump's (aka "Der Fuhrer's")  much ballyhooed "health care" (repeal and replace) of Obamacare came crashing down. After seven long years of vowing to kill Obamacare, and months of Trump's yapping on the campaign trail he'd do it (making it one of his main promises), e.g.

"On my first day in office I am going to ask congress to send me a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Immediately!"

The supposed vote had to be mercy -killed before it could even commence. Why? Because a quick, informal tally showed it as much as 34 votes short.   No, there were no Dem votes for it, but why should there have been?  As Rep. Joe Kennedy put it last night, to Chris Hayes on MSNBC: "The message from hundreds of thousands of Americans was 'don't do something stupid and vote on a bad bill."  Adding: "Doctors hated this bill, patients hated this bill, nurses hated this bill, hospitals hated this bill and seniors hated this bill, It was a bad piece of legislation"

And, indeed, had any Dems been stupid enough to vote for this misshapen mutation (which killed 10 health care requirements) they'd have paid dearly at the polls in the 2018 midterms.  So anyone with more than air between the ears certainly couldn't have expected them to cooperate to pass an odious bill that hurt far more than it helped. (Actually the only ones it helped were the hyper wealthy because it was actually a tax cut bill to deliver $330b in cuts on the backs of those whose ACA benefits, Medicaid were cut). Further, no sane person could expect Democratic  cooperation to kill a bill they had sacrificed to get through seven years ago! Hell, get real!  But then remember, Trump - now playing the blame game - isn't sane, but a psychotic. So he would say anything to get the monkey of loss off his back.  While President Harry Truman was the first to say "The buck stops here", Trump has now revised that to: "The buck stops with those guys there, not me!"

But what would one expect of a two-bit real estate weasel who built his "empire" on cons, bankruptcies and suspect money from Russian oligarchs.

Add in Sean Spicer's false bravado and optimism that a vote would be held, not to mention Trump's absurd  "ultimatum"  to get the Tea Baggers (Freedom Caucus) on board, and you had all the makings of a grade B drama about to unfold.  Adding to the suspense, an emergency meeting of the House Republican Caucus was called shortly before the scheduled vote. As it was announced, the House went to recess, with Democrats shouting in a taunting manner, “Vote, vote, vote”, daring Republicans to bring the bill up.  Democrats had reason to needle these Reepo miscreants as it was mainly their people - at assorted town hall meetings- who brought the shame on the Repukes as they recounted how their loved ones would be adversely affected by repeal. Did the Repukes care? Hell no!

In a short meeting that ensued, Paul Ryan announced that the bill was being pulled from the floor in a terse statement to members. What ought not have been surprising, as I noted in the previous post, is that the 'pukes ended up playing whackamole tryin to appease the Tea Baggers by adding more and more refuse to their bill. (Namely eliminating ten cornerstones of sound health care, including everything from hospitalizations, ER visits, and maternity care to prescription drugs and mental health services. )

So no wonder a losing wicket emerged with any moderates in swing districts wary of supporting the legislation, which included major cuts to Medicaid. The original bill  was estimated by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to lead to 24 million fewer Americans having health insurance over the next 10 years, and the final mutated, tortured product was even worse. So why in hell would any Dem help provide cover for these termites by adding a 'yea' vote?

The real blame for the loss, if one could be singled out, had to be the 24-odd member Freedom Caucus.  So committed were they to ideological principle and purity that they absolutely refused the opportunity to send the ACA into the annals of history, even after Paul Ryan removed all ten health requirements they asked for. They didn't want a bloody half loaf, by golly, it had to be the whole enchilada or nothing at all. The WSJ Editorial yesterday (p. A14, 'The Freedom From Reality Caucus')  put it this way:

"By insisting on the impossible over the achievable, these self-styled guardians of conservative purity could become the worst friends conservative ideas and free markets have had in decades."

Meanwhile Trump, who bragged endlessly about his ability to make this happen and his deal making, couldn't budge one single Tea Bagger. Not one. This left him bellyaching over issues of "loyalty" in the wake.  SO much for the art of the deal, but as one pundit put it last night:

"This bill isn't some abstraction. It's the entire health insurance market for a nation of 330 million people. You can't just negotiate it like you're doing a development deal in Atlantic City."

But see, with Trump the Reepos had a turkey who (unlike Obama with the ACA) didn't even keep up with the changing content of the bill or what those changes meant for individual congressional districts and their reps. One Goopr Rep even complained to Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker:

"We're astonished how in over his head Trump is. He seems to neither get the politics or the policy of this."

But what would one expect of an ignorant, arrogant, psychotic asshole? Especially one with delusions of grandeur and authoritarian narcissism issues that rival those of his Onkel Adolf.

As far as Trump was concerned it was as if he was just dealing with so many below par properties to be fobbed off on gullible suckers.  Trouble was the would be victims weren't gullible, and by the end of the recent recess most of the Reepos knew it. At least those who had the balls to attend their town halls, as opposed to hiding or inventing the lamebrain excuse those gathered were "paid protesters".

Trump's other egregious claim in washing his hands of the bill, is that he would "just let Obamacare explode". Of course, he's on some kind of drug or else losing even more gray matter. There is no "explosion" as the CBO noted in its report. But, there is a danger of erosion of benefits given the Reepos did manage to nix the mandate which paid for the benefits most people value the most, such as for pre-existing conditions and keeping adult kids on parents' plans.

This is why, as Michael Moore warned last night, the Dems can't spend too much time gloating or in jubilation mode. They - we- have to get to work and ensure those provisions are made more secure.  This is especially given the final iteration of the AHCA that almost went for a vote last night was the most extreme form possible eliminating such things as emergency services, hospitalization, pregnancy and newborn care, rehabilitation services, lab services, prescription drugs, outpatient care, pediatric services and preventive services (e.g. colonoscopies, PSA testing etc)

Moore emphasized the nature of the bill on offer was that health insurance wouldn't have to provide the above services even for those with regular health insurance!  That is how sweeping the bill was and how devastating the repercussions would have been if passed: None of the listed service would have had to be covered by insurance companies. (All were put in to sweeten the bill for the Freedom Caucus assholes. )

Moore's solution is that we now need to push for a "Medicare for all"  type of healthcare, similar to what oldsters like me already have, as well as most citizens of the planet. But he isn't unrealistic concerning what would be needed, i.e.the Ds winning next year with veto-proof majorities. A long shot to be  sure, but after Trump's election it was also regarded as a long shot that the ACA would remain in place  after the first year.  Everyone on the R-side, and certainly Trump supporters, expected it to be repealed as per his campaign promise. (But given how his Mexican wall promise also fell down, i.e. getting the Mexicans to pay for the thing and not U.S. taxpayers, we ought not express too much surprise.)

At the very least, Dems need "to fix those parts of Obamacare that cost us votes last year."  Moore also advised the resistance now needs to shift focus from the congress critters to the for profit insurance companies.  So, we need to exert as much political pressure as possible on the money-grubbing bastards.

Trump, ignoramus that he is (apart from being a psycho) actually believes now he can pivot to tax reform and have better success. But I have news for him, he won't. As Rep. Karen Bass (CA) put it last night:

"If Trump thought this was tough wait until he comes to tax reform"

The same issues that divided Reepos with their foolish AHCA will also divide them on the tax reform - why?  Because they again will need the votes of the same Freedom Caucus extremists to get anything through. But, those extremists - as per their performance yesterday - will demand far greater cuts than Ryan will put up, and more centrist Reeps will tolerate.

The WSJ today ('GOP Focus Shifts To Tax Code Revamp', p. A5) also pointed out an overlooked little fact: the healthcare bill was to be the lead-in for the tax code revamp, i.e.:

"Repealing Obamacare would cut spending on health care subsidies and cut $1 trillion in taxes."

With their stupid AHCA bill having bitten the dust, most of the momentum is lost for the tax bill. As a policy strategist for Cornerstone Macro LP quoted in the piece notes:

"Defeat on healthcare is a blow that could make it harder to pass a more ambitious tax plan such as proposed by House Republicans."

Indeed. And because the Reepos are going to use budget reconciliation again (where only a simple majority is needed, so they don't have to depend on Dems) they will have to adhere to the reconciliation rules. Those "forbid any plan from increasing budget deficits beyond the current budget window."

So, not only will Ryan and Trump likely have to contend with the touchy twerp Tea Baggers....errr....'Freedom Caucus', but also the budget hawks. That lot that won't tolerate one more cent added  to the deficit.

If Ryan and Co. expect Dem cooperation for this next round they won't get it. Because the Dems are smart enough to know that any tax bill put out by Ryan & Co. will have "bombs" buried inside. As  Rep. Bass observed: "We must be on our guard because another way for them to come after health care is by cutting the taxes that pay for health care coverage."  In other words, she recognizes a party of rats when she sees it, and also that -  like rats- they will keep coming after the 'cheese' by new and varied avenues if a primary one is denied. Dems can't rest and neither can the resistance movement.

Rep. Bass may also have nailed the basis for the Republican anti-ACA campaign most accurately, noting it was probably "political rhetoric to gin up their base" and "this was really sad because it misled an awful lot of people".     As she further observed, many of the ACA problems in states were self-inflicted, because when given the chance for Medicaid expansion and federal subsidies, they demurred - tossing their citizens into the crapper.

Bass, like Moore, did leave room for the Reeps to "come back to the table" - and maybe even work with Dems to improve Obamacare.  BUT that has to be for an affirmative (not destructive) objective. Dems will never cooperate so long as the mission is to deny healthcare to millions and toss people off what they have, then use the money saved for tax cuts to give the upper 1 percent.

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