With Republicans, It’s Always About Privatization and Tax Cuts

Trump Maladministration

Seriously, the end result of Republican ideology is to privatize all government functions, including the military; expect all these functions to pay for themselves out of profits; and then cut taxes to zero. Well, except maybe for sales taxes and user fees. Anyone reading this who thinks that would be a great idea … must be a wingnut.

Catherine Rampell writes for WaPo,

Let’s abandon the pretense.

Republicans’ “health care” bill is not really about health care. It’s not about improving access to health insurance, or reducing premiums, or making sure you get to keep your doctor if you like your doctor. And it’s certainly not about preventing people from dying in the streets.

Instead, it’s about hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts — tax cuts that will quietly pave the way for more, and far larger, tax cuts.

And she makes a good case for it. Why are the Republicans ramming through this mess of legislation that nobody likes as fast as they can? Because they need this to cut more taxes and privatize Medicare, and they know that if people actually have time to look at this monstrosity of a bill, it will never pass. It’s now or never.

The American Health Care Act, which has been opposed by nearly every possible stakeholder of nearly every ideological orientation, is being rushed through Congress with non-extreme vetting. In fact, it passed out of one committee in the middle of the night, overseen by a committee chairman who just a day earlier criticized Obamacare for being “written in the dark of night.” …

… Part of the reason they have rushed the bill through committees is to front-run an (inevitably unflattering) analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

In the meantime, other experts and government bodies have scrambled to compile their own estimates for the bill’s effects.

The ratings and analytics firm S&P Global has ballparked the number of people who would lose their insurance at 6 million to 10 million; others have offered figures as high as 15 million and 20 million. Meanwhile, a group of health researchers calculated that the bill would increase costs for enrollees on the individual insurance market by, on average, more than $1,500 per year when it would take effect, and by more than $2,400 per year by 2020.

Oh, and the Medicare trust fund would be exhausted by 2024, according to Brookings Institution researchers.

And the point is …

… tax cuts. Specifically, $600 billion of them, predominantly benefiting the rich.

And the connection is …

The presence of expensive tax cuts in a bill purportedly about health-care reform is not a side effect; it’s the entire point. They make it easier for Republicans’ (much bigger) individual and corporate tax cuts to sail through the Senate with minimal Democratic obstruction in a few months’ time.

Why? Under normal circumstances, Democrats would almost certainly filibuster the coming tax overhaul, preventing it from ever getting to a vote. But Republicans can take the filibuster option away by using the “reconciliation” process, which is an option if, and only if, the tax bill doesn’t increase government deficits in the long term, relative to existing law.

How do you keep tax cuts from increasing deficits relative to existing law? One useful tool is to change existing law — that is, to move the goalposts. Cutting taxes in the Obamacare repeal bill today lowers the revenue baseline against which a tax overhaul plan will be judged tomorrow.

Allegra Kirkland writes for TPM:

By repealing a payroll tax on high earners that provided a critical additional revenue stream for the Medicare trust fund, the GOP’s proposed American Health Care Act would speed up the fund’s exhaustion by as many as three to four years, according to estimates from health care policy experts. …

…  Critics say this provision is a prime example of the GOP bill granting tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the country’s neediest citizens, and that it paves the way for Medicare privatization. One former Obama administration official argued that by endangering the program’s funding, so-called “entitlement hawks” like House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will have cover to argue that Medicare as we know it is financially unsustainable—then realize their long-held dream of turning it into a voucher program.

Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services during the last two years of the Obama administration, has been ringing this bell loudly since the AHCA was made public Monday night.

“I think it’s a smarter play for them to move Medicare closer to a crisis, try to get this bill done, and then build a case about why this crisis needs to be addressed,” he told TPM in a Thursday phone interview.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities figured out how much Trumpcare tax credits would actually provide compared to Obamacare subsidies. In some states — mostly red ones, ironically — people will end up paying thousands of dollars more out of their own pockets every year for insurance. At the same time, the Republican bill is expected to increase the deficit because of the tax cuts. The White House has pre-emptively attacked the CBO, anticipating their bill will get a bad grade.

So … costs more, provides less. Lose/lose! That’s the Republican way!

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  1. Tom_b  •  Mar 10, 2017 @6:14 pm

    Never mind that privatization is almost always a negative from the user/client’s POV. And frequently more, rather than less costly.

  2. Dickeylee  •  Mar 10, 2017 @8:15 pm

    Looks like we’re back to “drowning it in the bathtub” territory…

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Mar 10, 2017 @11:57 pm

    Hey, conservatives, Ya’allp wan’ some cuts?
    I got ’em fer ya!
    How about cuts from rusty and dull pitchforks and guillotines?
    (No sense in NOT extending the pain and agony, is there?
    It’s what they’d love the rest of us to experience!).

    FSM, these idiot’s exhaust me!
    But, that’s them thar plan, idn’t it?
    So, all the better to piss down their throats now, than later.
    Later, I may be too pissed-off and tired to get a good, hard yellow stream going, and hit Paul “Privatizin’ ‘n Lyin”” Ryan right in his lyin’ mouth!!!

  4. moonbat  •  Mar 11, 2017 @2:34 pm

    Gulag wrote:

    FSM, these idiots exhaust me!

    The battle ages you. One of the greatest personal things that happened with Obama’s first election, was the ability to stand down, to stop fighting, to take a rest of sorts. When Obama was re-elected in 2012, I again breathed a sigh of relief, that this rest would continue for another four years.

    Last Labor Day, I counselled friends nervous about Hillary’s prospects, to enjoy the last few weeks of this eight year summer while it still lasts. Like an unseasonably warm spell in October, something inside me knew it was ending.

    Since Nov 8, I’ve been way too engaged, bookmarking web articles, digesting all that’s coming down, horrified that it’s far worse than I could imagine. Like many, my sleep has suffered, as the nightmare from the Bush years repeats, only it’s orders of magnitude worse. I find myself playing Gustav Holst’s The Planets, especially “Mars: Bringer of War” (an inspiration for John Williams’ Star Wars music). The relentless drumbeat of war, of being on high alert, is with me again.

    I have a spiritual teacher who told me years ago, as the Bush era was ending, that this fight will absolutely age me, that the supply of idiots to argue with knows no end. It’s literally why my hair is white.

    This same spiritual teacher saw years ago what was coming in America, and left the country just before the inauguration.

    I spent the last couple of years working in California for an Australian company that was trying to conquer the world (they failed). I was in near daily tele-conferences with my Aussie co-workers, who by contrast were happy and carefree, still living under a political system that was at least tolerable and forgettable. Unfortunately I’m too old to qualify for a skilled worker visa, as I explained my desire to leave America to my boss.

    You have to find ways so the battle doesn’t wear you out. And especially that the overwhelming assault from so many directions doesn’t isolate you. Blog e-friends aren’t enough. I’m starting to use Meetup to find others.

    It is an emergency: I continue to work at finding a way to get out of this country. The drumbeat of “Mars: Bringer of War” runs in the back of my mind.

  5. Doug  •  Mar 12, 2017 @1:38 am

    Going off Topic but it says in WaPo Jan 28:

    “The presidential executive order builds off ethics rules signed by former president Barack Obama in 2009, banning executive appointees from lobbying their agencies for five years after leaving office and from lobbying anyone in the executive branch for the rest of his administration. Trump also banned appointees from ever working as lobbyists for a foreign government.

    And yesterday I read this from ABC:

    “An attorney for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn told President Donald Trump’s transition team before the inauguration that Flynn might register with the government as a foreign agent, White House officials acknowledged.”

    Am I missing something? Trump needs to explain how/why the Executive Order signed a week after the inauguration isn’t being enforced and possibly was never intended to be enforced if Flynn did in fact tell WH lawyers he was going to work for Turkey. And the question isn’t being asked WTF Trump intends to do.



  6. aj  •  Mar 12, 2017 @1:53 am

    AHCA, the ass hole care act. dilutes pre existing clause, defunds planned parenthood, eliminate the 50+ employee mandate to offer coverage, cuts 1 billion from CDC, if lose job and let your insurance lapse, get a 30% surcharge to get insurance again, terminates Medicaid expansion2020, caps Medicaid cost per person, will blow out state budgets which are already broke, higher premiums less coverage. of course defense will get 54 billion increase for what reason for what policy goals who knows

  7. aj  •  Mar 12, 2017 @2:53 am

    And don’t forget Medicaid pays for 48% of births in US and pays for 51% of long term care in nursing homes. Now let’s get rid of it and see what happens.

  8. bernie  •  Mar 12, 2017 @8:27 am

    Privatizing Ryan, has not convinced Sarah Palin that Alt-care is not Socialism.  Obviously the sick and dying are not sufficiently exploited in this proposal to merit her approval.  Breitbart, which I thought had achieved cabinet status if not higher, gave her the forum to say this according to the Huffington Post.  It is like trying to herd cats, getting these proponents of Extortionism in line, as one wing fears the other wing will gain more victims and more money than theirs.

    Meanwhile, in West Virginia, the heart of Trump country, the indigent burial fund is out of money due to the killing fields of prescription pain killer overdoses.  I suppose any effort to consider this a social problem would also just lead to more rampant Socialism.  This would not meet with the approval of the Palinistas who love her run on, rambling, sentences and cannot live without them.  Many of them are armed and dangerous. 

  9. c u n d gulag  •  Mar 12, 2017 @10:33 am

    Yeah, I love “Mars,” too. And I totally get what you’re saying about it.

    But, once I start getting the feeling that we’re into some really deep doo-doo, Wagner’s “Die Flugt Der Valkerie” assuults my senses (it’s probably best known as that song played while the “Air Cav” attacked that Vietnamese village in “Apocalyse Now”).

    We’ve been lucky and dodged total collapse so far:
    Aka: Nixon, Reagan, “Papa Doc” Bush, and “Baby Doc” Bush.
    I don’t feel like we’ll luck out of this one.

    All of the books, movies, cartoons, and TV shows that featured evil super-villains, were wrong:
    Real evil doesn’t come in the form of some super-genius of an evil man/woman ordering his/her minions from a secret cave to grab control of the world.
    Real evil comes from an unenlightened, bigoted, ignorant, grifting, narcissistic, insecure, (really rich?) schmuck with father issues, who sorrounds himself with conservative idealogues, bigoted morons (but I repeat myself), and “yes” men/women), and tells voters what they think they want to hear.

    He sold the fools.
    But the joke’s on all of us.
    The fools used us and our money, as well as their own, in t-RUMPLE-Thin-Skin’s massive political grift.

    Hint to Trump supporters:
    When you go out to the Soup Kitchen, don’t wear your “MAGA” hat.
    It’s one thing if the rest of us in line suspect you’re a gullible fool.
    You don’t need to advertize it.
    Or, want to, come to think of it…

  10. goatherd  •  Mar 12, 2017 @11:27 am

    I can identify with what Moonbat wrote. But, I think I am being more selfish, at least in the priority of staying healthy and keeping the internal peace, to the extent that I can.

    Ironically, my wife and I were strongly considering retirement overseas, but, now, we’re more likely to be toughing it out here. If things go up in smoke, our reasoning is going to look pretty lame.

    Your title reminds me of something Cent Uygur said a few years back about tax credits. He said, “If a flying saucer landed on the Whitehouse lawn and people from outer space stepped out, the Republicans would offer them a tax cut.” They’ve sold the Libertarian fairy dust pretty well and they’ve reinforced the habit of blaming the liberals for everything. So, my inner pessimist is expecting that the baggers and Trumpsters won’t change their minds until there is a collapse, until they have no option but to face the truth. Fortunately, my inner optimists hasn’t flatlined yet.

    I’ll have to dig out my CD of Holst’s “The Planets.” I’ve been playing Dowland
    a lot.

  11. Bonnie  •  Mar 12, 2017 @6:32 pm

    Isn’t AHCA the sound you make when you stick your finger down your throat to make yourself throw up? Just asking

  12. Swami  •  Mar 12, 2017 @8:08 pm

    Bonnie… 🙂 it sure is!

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