Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Guessing The Republican Repeal Gameplan

There's been a leak or three of various Republican plans to follow through on their "Repeal And Replace Pray Nobody Notices There's No Sane Replacement" of Obamacare, and there's now reports of the GOP House leadership just deciding on a kamikaze do-or-die bill to see if it passes (per the Talking Points Memo):

The movement to repeal the Affordable Care Act appears to be approaching a do-or-die moment for Republicans, as the clock ticks on dismantling Obamacare in time to also tackle tax reform before Congress's summer recess. Many of the differences that dogged Republicans about repealing and replacing the law remain. But GOP lawmakers, particularly in the House, seem intent on moving forward, if a leaked a draft of legislation is of any judge...
Republicans have had seven years to coalesce around an Obamacare replacement, during which GOP lawmakers took dozens of vote to repeal the ACA, but in the months since Donald Trump’s surprise election, have only inched a little closer to settling on a plan moving forward. GOP lawmakers were able to pass an Obamacare repeal bill that then-President Obama vetoed in 2016. But now that they have a President Trump in the White House who will sign it, they’ve raised concerns about the timing, funding and general shape of an ACA replacement. According to the Wall Street Journal report, leadership is ready to move forward right away with a replacement strategy that resembles the previous proposals put forward by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) rather than fully litigate all of the differences within the House GOP conference. The risk of such a strategy is that it takes only a few defections -- about two dozen members in the House and three Republicans in the Senate -- to torpedo the repeal bill...
Already House conservatives -- including the leaders of the influential groups the House Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee -- are objecting to some of the ideas being floated, and particularly the proposal to offer refundable tax credits for individual insurance...

The usual practice in the House is to Whip - organize - your votes on a bill by getting your party members in line and on-message. Funny thing is, they've had months six years to rally around a planned "Repeal and Replace" package, and yet they STILL can't rally around one because the party's factions - The Freedom Caucus that wants to watch it all burn vs. the Establishment incumbents that like to keep their cushy seats until more lobbyists need to fill no-show jobs - remain divided on how sharp they want their knives to be when they gut Obamacare like a fish.

So the new plan is to play what David Anderson at Balloon Juice calls a game of chicken: Ryan and his leadership team are daring their Republican foot soldiers to either go big or go home.

Given how the Republicans tend to fall into line when it gets to be do-or-die time, this is likely a done deal: Few House Republicans have the nerve or strength of character to test their "safe" gerrymandered districts (because those gerrymandered districts are ONLY safe for those who whimper before their wingnut voter base). The Senate may be a different matter - they have to win statewide voters and thus in practice can appeal to more moderate sensibilities - but the House is IMHO 95 percent (Okay, I'm not THAT absolutist about this) ready to vote Ryan's Repeal deal. They have to before they move on to what they want to pass, their "cut taxes for the rich and kill the federal budget forever" plan.

So what does this mean? What will we see as the results of this Repeal (and no real Replace) bill?

The universe will dance down one of these four paths:

1) The Republicans pass their Repeal plan, and somehow their Replace plan isn't as devastating as the budget offices predict it will be. Thousands may lose their health care plans but there's no noticeable uptick in health-related deaths (and a possibility the states in dire straits pass their own state-level programs). Job losses to the health care industry and health provider industry are minimal. This frees up the Republicans to pass their massive tax-cut / slash-and-burn federal budget... which actually works after TWO PREVIOUS FAILED ATTEMPTS at tax cuts, and with Congress holding down on any excessive spending like they did in 2001-2006.

This is known as the "Monkeys-Fly-Out-Of-My-Ass" timeline. Every Republican budget plan since 1980 that revolved around tax cuts created massive deficits and economic hardships. Because Republicans don't care about deficits at all: they just want tax cuts ALWAYS, and to hell with the consequences.

In short: This will never happen. The Repeal plan kills one part of the economy while the follow-up Ryan Budget kills the rest. And the Republicans will do their damnedest to pin the blame on Obama, Immigrants, and the Librul Poor. But people are gonna remember who passed all this crap, who campaigned on these lies about taxes and bad economies... and still vote Republican because they're f-cking hard-wired that way.

2) The House Republicans pass their Repeal plan, but the Senate Republicans balk at the poor Replace elements and it stalls out. The bill goes back to the House for fine-tuning, but the factions still can't agree on what stays and what goes. This stymies the entire budget process for the year and the government staggers on up to the point where the Freedom Caucus, wanting to burn it all down anyway, forces a budget shutdown that creates a constitutional crisis and economic meltdown.

Faced with an obstructionist faction of 40-plus wingnuts, the remaining House Republicans are forced to deal with the Democrats to pass any kind of budget at all to save the nation, but at the cost of their own electoral safety because the wingnuts will stir up a primary shitstorm in 2018 against the Establishment GOP. I doubt the Republicans can come up with anything for a budget that would satisfy the wingnuts AND the Senate at the same time... and any budget plan HAS to do something with Obamacare anyway, which makes this still a huge mess to figure out.

In short: This could happen. The Senate has already voiced enough opposition to the House's Repeal plan to make this likely. The random factor to all this is how the House reacts to that rejection: Implosion - the party splintering and eating itself - or Explosion - pursuing an agenda that makes things worse.

3) The proposed Repeal plan can't even pass through the House because the Freedom Caucus opposes it to where the Republicans don't have enough votes to make it through. Ryan could then pursue just his tax-cut budget plan without dealing with the ACA at all - ignore it and just let it suffer through the massive spending cuts his budget already doles out - and hope that the party faithful decide to let it slide as well.

The Freedom Caucus will make noises about it in the wingnut media, but will adjust their anger towards libruls and immigrants anyway. The Republicans stumble on as a united but backstabbing party, complaining about how Obama rigged the health care system against the American people and trying to keep the Repeal rallying cry fresh for their 2018 midterms.

In short: The actual compromise situation for everyone on the Far Right to accept. It won't be pretty, and it will still cause severe harm to the nation's economic well-being, but it would be a best-case scenario for the health care system to at least on paper chug along until someone with political will fixes it.

4) Aliens appear in orbit around the Earth and beam up every sane person to transport us to one of the habitable planets orbiting Trappist-1. Also, every needed fruit and grain plant as well as enough livestock to ensure a proper food supply. And soap. We'll need toothpaste too. Access to fibers for clothing. Also our pets and companion animals. Everything we need to make good chili or the best pizza. We might need several colony ships for this.

In short: I've got to focus on finishing up my sci-fi short stories. I'm facing a shit-ton of deadlines.

I don't see many other variables here. If anyone else figures out how the GOP Repeal gameplan works out, leave a comment. Danke.

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