Republican health care pitch built on a foundation of falsehoods

U.S. President Donald Trump (C) celebrates with Congressional Republicans in the Rose Garden of the White House after the House of Representatives approved the American Healthcare Act, to repeal major parts of Obamacare and replace it with the Republican healthcare plan, in Washington, U.S., May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Yesterday morning, ahead of the House vote on the Republican health care plan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told CNN, “We’re not taking a benefit away. Nobody on Medicaid is going to be taken away.”

That’s plainly untrue. The GOP proposal slashes spending on Medicaid, and many of the program’s beneficiaries stand to lose coverage. How many? According to a Congressional Budget Committee report, about 14 million Americans.

Marveling at McCarthy’s misleading rhetoric, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said soon after, “In 20 years in public service, I have never seen the level of bald faced, intentional lying that is happening right now.”

Americans face health care consequences of new Republican bill

The White House may have seen that as a dare, because the avalanche of bald faced, intentional lying picked up steam after the House vote. Donald Trump, hosting a celebration of a bill that stands no realistic chance of reaching his desk, made this declaration with great pride:

“And I will say this, that as far as I’m concerned, your premiums, they’re going to start to come down…. I think, most importantly, yes, premiums will be coming down. Yes, deductibles will be coming down.”
None of this is true. In fact, it’s the opposite of the truth. It shouldn’t even make sense to anyone who pauses to think about it for a minute.

As Vox’s report on this explained, “The AHCA doesn’t do either of [the things Trump claimed]. After all, how could it? The heart of the bill is a $600 billion tax cut for affluent households and health industry corporations. The bill contains no reforms to the American health care payment or delivery systems. All it does is shift money around, largely by taking it away from subsidizing health coverage for older, sicker, and poorer people and plowing it into tax cuts. The inevitable result is that millions of people will lose their insurance entirely, and those who remain will end up on average paying more for skimpier coverage.”

The president obviously doesn’t care. You, however, should.

Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum, understandably exasperated, had a good piece on GOP mendacity yesterday.

Like Trump, Republican politicians just say whatever they want. There’s no longer any pretense of retaining even a nodding acquaintance with the facts. TrumpCare is going to benefit the rich. “No it won’t.” TrumpCare will do away with protections for pre-existing conditions. “No it won’t.” TrumpCare will rob 24 million people of health coverage. “No it won’t.” TrumpCare will take Medicaid away from the poor. “No it won’t.”

That’s it. Just make the assertions and then sign off.

In the broader context, we’re dealing with waves of cascading lies. Republicans lied about what the Affordable Care Act would do; they’ve lied about what the ACA is doing; they lied about what their alternative to “Obamacare” would do if they were put in power; they’re lying about what their bill would do now that they’re in power.

At a certain level, I can appreciate why this may seem like a dog-bites-man story. Politicians deliberately deceiving the public? Yawn. But we’re not just talking about some senator dissembling when asked about an alleged affair, or some candidate over-promising at a town-hall meeting to get out of an awkward exchange.

This is vastly more serious. Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are playing a needlessly cruel life-or-death game in order to scratch an ideological itch. It is not an exaggeration to say some Americans’ lives would be at risk if the president were to sign the GOP’s American Health Care Act into law.

If Republican policymakers are going to take deliberate steps that may lead to people’s deaths, they have a responsibility to start being straight with people.

What does it say about the party and its policymakers that they can’t bring themselves to tell the truth about their endeavor, even with lives on the line? How confident should the American public feel about their future when their elected leaders – the people who now have families’ health security in their hands – are caught making claims that have no basis in reality?

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