It’s Do or Die Time
By Doug Porter
This is the week that will determine the future of healthcare and a lot more in the United States for the foreseeable future. If there ever was a time to stand up and be heard on the topic the time is now.
There will be political actions aimed at pressuring elected officials nationwide. On Tuesday, July 27, local activists will add to the chorus against this abomination of a bill in San Diego and Vista. (Details below)
A massive human chain surrounding the Capitol building is slated for Wednesday–2 pm PDT, — organized by Planned Parenthood Action.
A bill affecting one-sixth of the economy was written in secret by a group of white men without public input, and they expect a Senate vote to take place on Thursday. Massive and persistent pressure is the only way Trumpcare dies this week.
My goal is in writing this column is to explore the financial and ideological underpinnings of the Republican push to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. The legislation’s horrid effects on humans are being well-documented elsewhere.
Here’s the short list of horribleness you may not have already seen in the news:
- People will die–18-27 thousand, annually.
- Small businesses with health insurance plans will be severely impacted
- One million jobs will go away
- The 1.4 million people living in nursing homes paid for by Medicaid will be most severely impacted.
- More than 440,000 veterans will lose Medicaid coverage.
The Republican leadership in Washington DC is doing their damnedest to create an aura of inevitability around passage of the Senate version of Trumpcare. Tweaks will be made. Political favors will be granted.
Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s is making the case by telling vulnerable electeds voters won’t regard the bill as a health care disaster until it kicks in for them personally, which in many cases will be past the 2018 elections.
John Cassidy at the New Yorker notes the most toxic elements are backloaded, with the severe cuts phased in over six years. The proceeds–namely the tax cuts for the wealthy–have no such waiting period. They are backdated to allow changes to appear in 2017 tax returns.
In a way, it is similar to what Wall Street bankers do when they securitize risky future income streams to raise money immediately. The value of the asset or business can look impressive, even though the cash flows on which that value is based are far from assured. In this case, we are talking about a future stream of uncertain savings, rather than cash flows, but the principle is the same. You book the gains now, and spend them. If, as time goes on, some or all of the incoming money fails to materialize, you deal with the problem then. Or your successors have to deal with it.
It isn’t very ethical, of course, and it isn’t financially sound, either. But it helps the G.O.P. to pose as a guardian of fiscal responsibility even as it hacks away at the tax base. If the Medicaid cuts do get enacted, the Republicans will have succeeded in shrinking a public health-care system that could be gradually expanded to cover more and more of the population. If the cuts don’t go through, the Republicans will have already used them to justify several years of tax cuts for their most affluent supporters and donors. For McConnell and Ryan, that’s a win-win proposition.
Literally this healthcare bill. pic.twitter.com/Cm1I5cbvIy
— Joe Berkowitz (@JoeBerkowitz) June 24, 2017
There is a lot more than health insurance and doctors visits at stake, notes Norm Ornstein in The Atlantic:
The big tax reform will have to wait for another budget resolution and another reconciliation bill. But without this “health” bill, a massive tax cut under the guise of tax reform faces an almost insurmountable obstacle—the requirement that it not increase deficits or debt after a 10-year window. That is why getting a health bill that provides half the desired tax cuts and has them paid for by Medicaid cuts is so important for McConnell and his allies.
The San Diego Union-Tribune story on the expected chaos of repeal and replace points out the impacts in other aspects of government, particularly at the state level.
The cascading effects of such a retrenchment will reach far beyond those who lose coverage, according to doctors, hospital leaders, insurance executives, patient advocates and state officials across the country. To date, not a single leading patient group or physician organization has supported the GOP repeal bills.
Governors and state legislators, facing huge reductions in federal Medicaid funding, may soon have to decide whether to reduce services, limit who can enroll in the healthcare safety net or make cuts to other state programs, such as education or transportation.
In short, Trumpcare sets the stage for a fundamental realignment of services provided by governments.
This redirect isn’t an accident, nor is it driven by some notion of fiscal responsibility, something that should be obvious with the Republican change of heart about the national debt.
While the Ayn Randish secular vision of the economy is commonly associated with modern day conservatism, there’s a reason why fundamentalist religious groups are generally on board with the idea of shrinking government.
Christopher Stroop, a one-time evangelical turned secular researcher, has a good explanation for this alignment, one I hadn’t given much thought to.
He took to Twitter to give a CliffsNotes version of his thinking, and I’m sharing it here sans formatting (and with some light editing) to make it easier to read.
- …A lot of people don’t understand why conservative American Christians are so opposed to welfare and universal healthcare…
- …The utopian belief that churches and private individuals should take care of people’s needs is more than a rationalization of capitalism…
- ..It is that, of course, but it is rooted in a deep-seated ideological distrust of the role of the state vs. families and churches…
- …This is an old story and not solely a Protestant one. Check out Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891)…
- …Meanwhile, distrust of the modern state described as “the new idol” can be found even in anti-Christian 19th-cent. conservative thought…
- …As a paradigmatic example, take Nietzsche’s “The New Idol” in Thus Spoke Zarathustra…
- …Traditionalist Christianity fights to retain a paternalistic role for churches and families free of state interference…
- ..This can go to extremes, in terms of apocalyptic thinking and/or social consequences…
- ..The Russian Orthodox Church has successfully lobbied to keep Russian law from recognizing the category of domestic violence…
- …Here’s a source on that. You’ll see that I’m not exaggerating how extreme the Russian case is at all…
- …A weird example – a Fox & Friends discussion of why businesses should have the ‘right’ not to hire atheists…
- …There are paradoxes here. The conservatives want a strong military. But they want everything else private, and everything under God…
- …So there you have it. In this twisted, toxic version of Christianity, universal healthcare isn’t just socialist, it’s idolatrous…
- …This idea of the state as an idol is powerful in American conservative Christianity. It crops up all the time...
Food for thought. I woke up this morning thinking about the scenes in the movie Interstellar, where the denigration of accomplishments of the United States included popularizing the myth about the moon landing being made up…
Here are this week’s protests in anticipation of the Trumpcare vote in the Senate:
Affordable Healthcare Die-In and Vigil San Diego
Tuesday, June 27, 7pm
First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego
4190 Front Street (Hillcrest)
For More Information
Join us as San Diego stands in Solidarity with Resistance actions taking place across the country to Save the ACA! We will start with a die-in, share prayers, testimonials, songs and end with a short walk to hold a brief candlelight vigil in front of UCSD hospital.
The bigger the turnout, the stronger the message we send. Share the event, invite and bring your friends, family, and neighbors.
- We know this is not a partisan struggle, it is a moral one, about the “character of our country.”
- We ask our fierce Senators, Feinstein and Harris, to resist in every way possible.
- We call on the conscience of Republican legislators to #ProtectOurCareand vote NO on the “Mean” AHCA.
Scheduled speakers include Nora Vargas, Vice President, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, Reverend Madison Shockley, Pilgrim United Church of Christ and a congressional staffer with a message from Rep. Scott Peters. After the program at the church, participants will make a procession with candles to the grounds of the hospital, where clergy will offer prayers for the sick and suffering.
We may be tired and that is what they want. So let’s reach down, support each other, Stand tall together and Resist this evil bill.
“Our Dreams for America” Rally
Tuesday, June 27, 10am
1800 Thibodo Road Vista
For More Information
Citizens will rally outside the district office of Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49) on the congressional Republicans’ health care bill. Special guest speakers will address concerns with Issa’s donors. Constituents will create and send videos to Rep. Issa on their dreams for universal health care, immigration rights, clean water and air, and other concerns.
Darrell Issa Street Corner Protest
Thursday, June 29, 5pm
1424 Encinitas Boulevard
(at El Camino Real, NE corner)
Indivisible group Encinitas Unity protests Rep. Darrell Issa on the day of the expected U.S. Senate vote on health care legislation.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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