The health care bill could be Donald Trump’s Iraq War

Sold on lies, poorly planned, deadly to thousands, and a catastrophe for its authors.

Conservatives believe it is not the government’s responsibility to ensure the poor can afford decent health insurance. They argue that if taxpayers are pitching in for someone’s coverage, that coverage should be lean; a high-deductible plan that protects against catastrophic medical expenses is plenty for charity care.

Under this view, the basic structure of Obamacare — which taxes the rich to purchase reasonably generous coverage for the poor — is ill-conceived and should be reversed.

.. Much as Americans were told the Iraq War was about removing the threat of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, they have been told that the GOP’s health care effort is about replacing Obamacare with “something terrific” — a plan that covers everyone with good health insurance that they can actually afford to use. In both cases, they were lied to.

.. But Republicans have taken everything they said they didn’t like about the process behind Obamacare and supercharged it — it’s as if they’re using their critique of the ACA process as a playbook for retribution. They are moving faster than Democrats did, and they are doing so with less stakeholder support, with a smaller congressional majority, with less bipartisan input, with an unpopular bill backed by an unpopular president, with less information about what their bill would do, and while providing fewer opportunities for members of Congress to amend and improve the underlying ideas.

.. The 2003 “shock and awe” campaign to topple Saddam Hussein reflected a misconception that the hard part of the Iraq War would be fighting through to Baghdad — but once we were there, and once Hussein was gone, it would all work out. It didn’t. The hard part was after Hussein fell, and the United States was responsible for the future of a country it didn’t understand and faced with chaos it hadn’t planned for.

.. President George W. Bush famously called the invasion of Iraq a “catastrophic success” — it was a military victory that left America embroiled in a catastrophe.

.. This is the heath care version of Dick Cheney’s promise that American troops “will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”

.. A cautious estimate, based off the best available evidence, suggests coverage losses on the scale Republicans envision will lead to more than 24,000 deaths annually.

.. Democrats could, within a matter of weeks, pass a short, clear law restoring and expanding the Medicaid expansion, restoring and expanding Obamacare’s tax credits, allowing Americans to buy into Medicare as an option on the exchanges, and paying for the whole thing by levying hefty taxes on the rich. The bill would be easy to write and easier to explain.

.. If Republicans upend Obamacare, their replacement plan is unlikely to survive the aftermath — it’s simply too different from what voters want, too vulnerable to future change, too loathed by existing interest groups, and too shoddily constructed to build support on its own merits. Rather, their plan will create chaos in insurance markets, anger among voters, and radicalization among their opponents; the policy that eventually fills the vacuum they create will not be one they like.