Opinion: GOP’s tax-cut push may be Obamacare repeal all over again

Happier days. (AP)

Three days later, it’s still hard to wrap your head around the magnitude of the Republican failure over Obamacare.

Seven long years of whining and complaining and promising, seven years of selling Obamacare as an absolutely unacceptable, existential threat to the economy, to the U.S. Constitution and to the basic tenets of American liberty, and the GOP crusade to save America from all that ends with a barely audible little pffffft? They turn this program into the biggest legislative villain in U.S. history, making its repeal the core unifying goal of their coalition, and when the opportunity comes to make good, they abandon the effort without managing even a simple floor vote?

It is both absolutely astonishing and for some of us at least, totally predictable.

How many times did critics point out that the GOP had no real plan to replace Obamacare, and how many times did Paul Ryan, Tom Price and the conservative media ostentatiously claim otherwise? How often did conservatives promise to produce a plan to provide coverage to more people at less cost with lower deductibles and more options, knowing full well that if given the chance they intended to do the exact opposite?

The finger-pointing afterward has been predictably entertaining. President Trump chose to blame the Democrats, which is like the Atlanta Falcons trying to blame their Super Bowl defeat on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. (The only thing more pathetic than blaming your opponents for beating you is when your opponents had little or nothing to do with it.) Trump’s defenders are blaming Ryan, demanding his ouster as speaker, while Ryan’s defenders blame the Freedom Caucus. And over the weekend, Vice President Mike Pence continued to rail against Obamacare and continued to promise that Republicans would somehow repeal it.

In a way that’s understandable. They’ve been repeating the same script over and over again for the last seven years, and they haven’t found a replacement for that either.

But let’s be clear: If you try to blame this massive failure on particular individuals or particular parts of the GOP, you’re thinking about it wrong. A self-inflicted failure this large, this humiliating, indicts the modern Republican Party as a whole, including the conservative media apparatus that both controls it and profits from it. It reveals an entire party — no, an entire movement — comprised of show ponies, not work ponies. It lays bare the incompetence, the hypocrisy, the empty rhetoric, the embrace of fantasy over reality and to put it bluntly the laziness of the Republican leadership.

Democrats spent nine long, painful months trying to pass the Affordable Care Act, from the introduction of the bill by Nancy Pelosi in July 2009 to the signing ceremony in the Oval Office in March 2010, and prior to introduction of the Affordable Care Act they had invested years of policy work and consensus-building on the issue.

Ryan introduced his bill on March 6, then walked away from it on March 24.

He wasn’t alone. At the White House, spokesman Sean Spicer proclaimed that whatever happened, Trump could not be blamed because he had “left everything on the field.” That’s silly. Compared to President Obama in 2009-2010, Trump didn’t even get his uniform dirty. This wasn’t his fight, it wasn’t his bill, he never bought into the GOP’s antipathy to government involvement in health care and the truth is that he did the minimal needed to preserve his identity as leader of the Republican Party.

So now the fight turns to tax cuts, where Trump and Republicans believe they’ll have an easier go of it. However, the same old problem –the gaping chasm between their populist rhetoric and their elitist policy — will dog them there as well.

Trump was elected on the theme that the economy had been rigged on behalf of the wealthy and powerful against everybody else, and that he was the man to change it. It proved a powerful message.  A massive Reuters-Ipso poll on Election Day found that 75 percent of voters believed that “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.” By a similar margin, voters agreed that the economy is “rigged” to benefit the wealthy, and that traditional politicians and parties “don’t care about people like me.”

Every poll that I can find on the topic since Election Day reports continued strong opposition to tax cuts for the wealthy. A poll taken for Politico in December found that just 13 percent of Americans and 18 percent of Trump voters backed tax reductions for the rich. In that same poll, just 22 percent of Americans and 39 percent of Trump voters backed lower taxes for corporations.

A Quinnipiac poll released Friday found similar numbers:

Only 22 percent of Americans back such tax cuts. Even among white men, Trump’s core demographic, just 28 percent support it.

One of the things that so quickly turned voters against the GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill was the realization that it cut $880 billion from Medicaid for lower-income Americans and handed it to wealthy Americans in the form of a tax cut. And while we don’t know for sure what final form a GOP tax cut bill might take, we can infer its general direction from every other GOP tax cut proposal, all of which represent huge gains for the already wealthy.

In his post-mortem last week, Ryan talked of the difficulty of transitioning from an opposition party to a governing party, and that’s a very big problem, bigger than Ryan will admit or perhaps even appreciates. For years, they have honed their appeals to racial, economic and class-based resentment — “the politics of envy” and “class warfare”, if you will — to a razor’s edge, using those appeals to hide the true impact of their proposed policies on the people who support them.

But once in power, and once confronted with the opportunity to implement those policies, their true impact becomes much much harder to hide.

Reader Comments 0

1344 comments
Chris Policronis
Chris Policronis

Not too biased are you AJC! Would love to see you publish a pic of Democrats laughing!!!

Stephen Scruggs
Stephen Scruggs

Uh, GOP owns house and senate. GOP wants Obamacare to fail. With its failure all blame is on democrats. In 2018 elections democrats will no longer be a party.

OldAtlanta
OldAtlanta

This bill was never about healthcare. 

Peachs
Peachs

There will be a Democrat winner in the sixth district!

NativeAtlantan57
NativeAtlantan57

Repeal of climate change measures is extremely disappointing, but no surprise from the already pollution-riddled mind of Trump. He cannot see past his next tweet.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Pinko causing trouble again. Must be because of the Rachael Maddow show yesterday. She went into detail of the connection between Trump son-in-law and head of sanction Russian bank who also went to spy school.


So when Kushner going to testify. Would love to hear his reason on why the meeting and what business was discussed?

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@McGarnagle 

She went into detail of the connection between Trump son-in-law

-

Well, what else is this Alex Jones of the left going to focus on? 

She knows which side her bread is buttered on evidently.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@FIGMO2 @StraightNoChaser @Donnie_Pinko @MaryElizabethSings  We did what abroad?  What does that have to do with an investigation into whether or not Russia interfered in a US presidential election?  Why is the right so scared of an investigation?  With respect to Hillary interfering in Putin's election, what she did was speak out against ballot box stuffing and stated that the people should be allowed to vote and their vote should be heard.  What is wrong with that?  Seriously, I have always thought of you to be more intellectual than what you just posted.  

TBS
TBS

She is deflecting and desperate

In other words it's just another day in her world

TBS
TBS

Well tap dance would be much too advanced for what you see taking place.

That's known as the two right foot clod hop.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@StraightNoChaser @FIGMO2 @Donnie_Pinko @MaryElizabethSings

Hillary defeated Hillary.

The GOP's failure to deliver on conservative principals, along with Hillary's horrible campaign brought us Trump.

I would also add that the DNC's annointment of Hillary as THEIR preferred candidate contributed as well.

Therein lies the truth. You'll not find it in Putin. He's simply DNC's scapegoat.


StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@FIGMO2 @StraightNoChaser @Donnie_Pinko @MaryElizabethSings Still has nothing to do with Russian interference into a US presidential election and their successful ability to manipulate a presidential candidate.  The investigation is not about results but about the interference and why it can never happen again.  What is the fear of letting the investigation play itself out?  

honested
honested

@OldJacketFan 

That's what I was referencing earlier.

"Don't tell the truth because my 'privilege' supersedes the truth!!!

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

The next negative word Trump says about Putin will be the first.


He will criticize the cast of Hamilton at 3 am. He will criticize a food critic for saying the food at his hotels sucks.


But Putin. Nope. Nada.


Does that prove collusion? Nope. But it is curious isnt it ?

Kamchak
Kamchak

@FIGMO2

I'm among a small group here who gets what you're saying, Donnie.

That group is not a small as you think it is.

The small group is the one not buying what he is "saying".

Kamchak
Kamchak

@FIGMO2

Your post on March 26:

According to Dennis, Obama wanted no part of a single-payer system.

Still waiting on a quote from Dennis Kucinich confirming this assertion.

Just remindin'.   

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Kamchak @FIGMO2

Take a math class if you're looking for precise.

You'll find it there, and there only.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Kamchak @FIGMO2

If that's what you need to believe, Kamchak, feel free.

No skin off my assets.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@FIGMO2

Soooooooooooooo, you just make sh it up to fit a narrative.

Got it.   

Kamchak
Kamchak

@FIGMO2

I have your permission?

That's mighty white of you!

Now, I will allow you the opportunity to have the last word on this matter.   

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

Hedley - Condescension noted.

BTW. Im betting if you stepped foot on Stanford it was to deliver a pizza.

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Woah! 

Speaking of condescension, nice class-based swipe there bro!  lol

I'm offended on behalf of all exploited workers like pizza delivery personnel.

May I suggest a magnifying glass so you can better see the log in your own eye as you point out the speck in mine? 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Donnie_Pinko  I'm offended on behalf of all exploited workers like pizza delivery personnel.


Yes that was clearly my intent.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@Donnie_Pinko 

I went to Stanford! 

In 1984, I saw an Olympic Soccer game there.  The US won, as I recall...

Here's_to_Blue
Here's_to_Blue

Sometimes I think there is more than one troll who inhabits the AJC moniker "Donnie Pinko."  At times, his writing style seems to differ.  Either that, or he exhibits a form of bipolar disorder.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Here's_to_Blue

Donnie a sock puppet?

No way!

Donnie's attempting to get you liberals to seize the day and stop allowing yourselves to be distracted.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@FIGMO2 @Here's_to_Blue Hopefully the investigation into collusion between Trump and Russia finds nothing.


I honestly dont think there was any collusion. I think Putin prefered Trump. I think Putin thought HRC was going to win and the email stuff was to damaging her.


At this point its something Americans are thinking about. For that reason alone it must be resolved.

gotalife
gotalife

Major cover up mode is ongoing.


Time to pull the plug on this thug criminal regime.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

Not exactly a grad seminar at Stanford this place.  lol