Graham-Cassidy, the health bill the Senate may vote on next week, is stunningly cruel. It’s also incompetently drafted: The bill’s sponsors clearly had no idea what they were doing when they put it together. Furthermore, their efforts to sell the bill involve obvious, blatant lies.
The Affordable Care Act, which has reduced the percentage of Americans without health insurance to a record low, created a three-legged stool:
- regulations that prevent insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions,
- a requirement that individuals have adequate insurance (and thus pay into the system while healthy)
- and subsidies to make that insurance affordable. For the lowest-income families, insurance is provided directly by Medicaid.
Graham-Cassidy saws off all three legs of that stool.
- it eliminates the individual mandate.
- sharply reduces funding relative to current law, and especially penalizes states that have done a good job of reducing the number of uninsured.
- And it effectively eliminates protection for Americans with pre-existing conditions.
Did Graham-Cassidy’s sponsors know what they were doing when putting this bill together? Almost surely not, or they wouldn’t have produced something that everyone, and I mean everyone, who knows anything about health care warns would cause chaos.
Republicans are trying to ram the bill through before the Congressional Budget Office has time to analyze it — an attempt that is in itself a violation of all previous norms, and amounts to an admission that the bill can’t bear scrutiny.
.. Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy, and the bill’s other sponsors have responded to these critiques the old-fashioned way — with lies.
.. Cassidy has also circulated a spreadsheet that purports to show most states actually getting increased funding under his bill. But the spreadsheet doesn’t compare funding with current law, which is the relevant question.
.. That’s actually a well-known dodge, one that Republicans have been using since Newt Gingrich tried to gut Medicare in the 1990s. As everyone in Congress — even Cassidy — surely knows, such comparisons drastically understate the real size of cuts, since under current law spending is expected to rise with inflation and population growth.
.. Republicans are desperate to destroy President Barack Obama’s legacy in any way possible, no matter how many American lives they ruin in the process.
.. most Republican legislators neither know nor care about policy substance. This is especially true on health care, where they never tried to understand why Obamacare looks the way it does, or how to devise a nonvicious alternative.
.. the evasions and lies we’re seeing on this bill have been standard G.O.P. operating procedure for years. The trick of converting federal programs into block grants, then pretending that this wouldn’t mean savage cuts, was central to every one of Paul Ryan’s much-hyped budgets.
.. Graham-Cassidy isn’t an aberration; it’s more like the distilled essence of everything wrong with modern Republicans.
.. But even if the handful of Republican senators who retain some conscience block it — we’re looking at you, John McCain — the underlying sickness of the G.O.P. will remain.
The president described Ms. Brzezinski as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and claimed in a series of Twitter posts that she had been “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a social gathering at Mr. Trump’s resort in Florida around New Year’s Eve. The White House did not explain what had prompted the outburst, but a spokeswoman said Ms. Brzezinski deserved a rebuke because of her show’s harsh stance on Mr. Trump.
.. “My first reaction was that this just has to stop, and I was disheartened because I had hoped the personal, ad hominem attacks had been left behind, that we were past that,” Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine who is a crucial holdout on the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, said in an interview.
“I don’t think it directly affects the negotiation on the health care bill, but it is undignified — it’s beneath a president of the United States and just so contrary to the way we expect a president to act,” she said. “People may say things during a campaign, but it’s different when you become a public servant. I don’t see it as undermining his ability to negotiate legislation, necessarily, but I see it as embarrassing to our country.”
.. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, urged the news media to move on, arguing during the daily White House briefing that Mr. Trump was “fighting fire with fire” by attacking a longtime critic.
Ms. Brzezinski had called the president “a liar” and suggested he was “mentally ill,” added Ms. Sanders, who defended Mr. Trump’s tweets as appropriate for a president.
.. “As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder,” Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman wrote in a statement, referring to the first lady’s remarks during the campaign.
.. Mr. Trump’s oldest friends say it is difficult for him to distinguish between large and small slights — or to recognize that his office comes with the expectation that he moderate his behavior.
And his fiercest, most savage responses have almost always been to what he has seen on television.
.. After lashing out at Mr. Scarborough and Ms. Brzezinski at one point last summer, Mr. Trump told an adviser, “It felt good.”
.. reporters interrupted Ms. Sanders’s defense of the president to ask how she felt about them as a woman and a mother.
She responded that she had only “one perfect role model”: God.
“None of us are perfect,” she said.