The Killer Lemmings

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

House Speaker Paul Ryan arrives in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 4, 2017, after the House pushed through a health-care bill. 

Well, that was a first. Never before has a political party stripped millions of their countrymen of a socially guaranteed, life-preserving benefit. At least, never before has a political party done that to its own voters.

The “fuck-you boys” (a pollsters’ term of art for voters who want to stick it to the establishment, and particularly to liberal elites) went big for Trump last November. Today, the fuck-you boys got fucked. The cuts that Paul Ryan’s handiwork would inflict on them through reductions in Medicaid and ACA subsidies would deprive millions of them of health coverage, were the Senate to pass anything like the bill that House Republicans passed today.

The first version of the Ryan’s American Health Care Act would have deprived 24 million Americans of coverage over the ensuing decade, the Congressional Budget Office (headed by a Republican appointee) concluded. This time around, the Republicans jammed their revision through so quickly that the CBO had no opportunity to weigh in. However, from all we know about the new model—call it the Health-Care Deprivation Bill—it would cut health coverage to a comparable number, if not more.

Republicans passed today’s bill not only in the face of opposition from virtually every single organization that treats or monitors Americans’ health, including the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association and the AARP, but they followed the House speaker over the repeal-replace cliff in complete defiance of public opinion. The Quinnipiac Poll numbers on Paul Ryan’s first health-care bill showed that it commanded just 17 percent support, while 56 percent opposed it, including whites without college degrees, who opposed it by a 48 percent to 22 percent margin.

Perhaps even more tellingly, 74 percent of all respondents opposed cuts to Medicaid, as did 54 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of whites without college degrees. Since today’s bill keeps those heavily opposed cuts intact, while also greatly reducing the number of Americans with pre-existing conditions who could get affordable insurance, it’s a safe bet that the bill House Republicans passed today would command even less support.

As deadly and damaging as this bill would prove to millions of Americans if it made it into law, it will—without any such qualifiers or conditions—be deadly damaging to the political careers of many Republicans who voted for it. Whatever sticks were brandished and carrots dangled to compel or persuade GOP representatives from swing districts to vote yes, it’s still hard to imagine how Republicans from districts that Hillary Clinton carried or almost carried could actually think they’ll survive the 2018 elections. All seven California Republicans whose districts Clinton carried, for instance, voted in the affirmative—even Darrell Issa, who scraped through last November by fewer than 1,000 votes.

Put those and kindred Republicans on the electorally endangered species list. History’s judgment on their souls is already set in stone.

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