On the Republicans’ stalled healthcare bill

I have a piece in The Guardian on the Republicans’ stalled healthcare bill in the Senate. Some excerpts:

At the beginning of this week, Republican senators were planning to head home for the Fourth of July recess and celebrate the nation’s independence and freedom by enacting their idea of liberty: denying health insurance to more than 20 million people. By the middle of the week, their hopes were dashed.

Once again the Republicans have found themselves in the peculiar position of possessing total control of the elected branches of the federal government, yet unable to act on one of their longstanding dreams: not just slowly destroying Medicaid, a federal program that guarantees healthcare to millions of poorer people, but also forcing people to rely upon the free market for their healthcare.

But that only begs the question: why haven’t the Republican free-market fanatics mobilized their base in support of the bill? Why aren’t they flooding the Senate with phone calls in favor of making people fend for themselves in the healthcare insurance market? Where’s the passion for the market, the hostility to the welfare state, that has so defined the conservative cause since the New Deal?

The problem, in other words, may not be the personnel. It may be the principles. Unlike Reagan, today’s Republican is no longer warmed in the same way by the burning belief that anything the state does in the realm of social welfare is automatically bad.


Read more here.


  1. Chris Morlock June 29, 2017 at 12:42 am | #

    Unenviable position of having to defend a broken healthcare system brought to us by mid 1990’s Republican think tanks. Romney/Obamacare is a failure, yet we still have to stick up for it as Republicans make it even worse.

    Sad times. Why not write an article about the inevitability of Single Payer, and how we will get there? Defending Neo-Liberals is not in the people’s interests.

  2. Brett June 29, 2017 at 1:26 am | #

    I’ve seen a lot of premature postmortems on the Republican Party over the past 20 years. They may be reeling now because they have to own all of the unpopularity of their legislation, but put them back in minority status after 2018 and 2020 and they’ll probably rebound again Tea Party style (unless the Democrats are smart enough to finally put in place rules to make voting vastly easier).

  3. relstprof June 29, 2017 at 3:44 am | #

    What’s really stopping this bill is that a few R senators (Collins, Cruz, Paul) are rightly divining the contradictory intentions that comprise the coalition that elected Trump. This coalition is a delicate combination of Republicans of both the suburban class and the working class poor (these latter voters are brand voters against Obama/Hillary — not entirely principled Rs). The dilemma is how to satisfy both.

    The R political class is trying to find the right formula of tax cuts and acceptable risks for the voting working poor R (white, mostly) to make this legislation palatable. Their problem is 1) this is a difficult situation to ‘solve’ and sell in reasonable terms, and 2) the CBO won’t cooperate. Thank God for at least one bureaucracy!

    The bigger problem is that the liberal Ds aren’t taking this opportunity to push single-payer and its economic benefits. The American left is left pointing at the UK and a few laudable voices and websites, even as California capitulates.

  4. mark June 29, 2017 at 4:20 am | #

    “Time was when even the worst legislation came with some kind of justification, when you could count on the hacks at Heritage to explain why eating children will encourage entrepreneurship, or something. ..But now we have legislation that will change the lives of millions, and they haven’t even summoned the usual suspects to explain what a great idea it is. If hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, Republicans have decided that even that’s too much; they’re going to try to pass legislation that takes from the poor and gives to the rich without even trying to offer a justification.”

    (Paul Krugman blog, 16th June 2017).

    Being bold is the order of the day.

    “The data showed that the Financial Times had the most divided readership. While the newspaper endorsed the Conservative Party, just 40 per cent of its readers voted Tory, while 39 per cent opted for Labour….In spite of the Sun’s strong endorsement of the Tories, 30 per cent of the paper’s readers still backed Labour at the polling booths. And 24 per cent of the Tory-backing Times still voted red, with 58 per cent backing the blues and 14 per cent opting for Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats.”

    (How people voted in the election according to which newspaper they read, Independent, Rachel Roberts, Wednesday 14 June 2017).

    The Sun is largely believed to be edited by Murdoch and he also owns the Times.

    Bold, Bold, Bold!

  5. Billikin June 29, 2017 at 1:20 pm | #

    Whose ox is gored?
    Maybe enough of the Republican base is realizing that it’s theirs.

  6. uh...clem June 30, 2017 at 7:17 pm | #

    Maybe the fact that the overall “health status” of the US population has seriously declined in the past 30 to 40 years has put a lid on efforts to curtail what meager offerings the US government all ready gives to the underlying mass of those who suffer from poor health. The decline in male life expectancy is just one sign of how sick the US population is becoming. And the millions upon millions who are dependent upon various nervous-system drugs, such as anti-depressants. When it comes to those kinds of issues it shows how even a single-payer system will not come to terms with the basic causes of these problems which are, globally speaking, to be found in the system of work (stultifying and insecure employment), unemployment, and the general degradation of the environment. If “socialistic” health care is to mean anything, it must go after those deep causes of ill health. Single-payer is just not adequate to the task.

    • uh...clem June 30, 2017 at 7:21 pm | #

      I meant “already”, not “all ready”, of course.

  7. benjoya July 2, 2017 at 4:51 pm | #

    destroying Medicaid, a federal program that guarantees healthcare to millions of poorer people,

    let’s not forget that medicaid also helps a lot of non-poor people, like those in nursing homes. this might explain how it’s the Rs ox that is being gored

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