Sally has two apples. Mitch comes along and takes both of those apples. How many apples does Sally have now?
The answer, obviously, is none. Sally has no apples. This is not a complicated story problem.
But, wait! Suppose that Mitch informs Sally that he is only implementing an “apple reallocation strategy” in relieving her of her two apples. Now, how many apples does Sally have after this “reallocation?”
Yup. Still no apples.
You can probably see where we’re going with this. You could tell Sally that her apples have been “reallocated.” You could tell Sally that her apples were stolen by the Russians. You could take Sally’s apples and offer no explanation whatsoever. However you go about removing Sally from her apples, the result is the same: Sally once had apples, but now she has none.
Republicans have been getting positively blistered by media outlets across the country ever since Senate leaders introduced their healthcare legislation on Thursday. Senate leaders are calling it “The Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA) and in describing the different facets of the legislation, they are employing numerous adjectives and phrases to make their plan sound less horrible than it really is.
The Senate healthcare proposal is a breathtakingly mean-spirited and awful piece of legislation that would be devastating to any American who is not rich and/or young and healthy. Poll after poll shows that Americans disapprove mightily of the central tenets of BCRA. Republicans are being deluged with protests, letters, and phone calls from people who are legitimately scared of the harm that this proposed legislation would cause.
Republicans seem to understand that their healthcare proposal is not being well-received, yet they appear completely oblivious as to the reasons why. In fact, when you listen to Republicans such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner discuss the bill, you get the distinct impression that they think they are merely facing a “messaging problem” with their healthcare proposal.
Take a look at this Thursday story from Denver7:
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Thursday that he was taking his first look at the Senate’s version of the replacement for the Affordable Care Act, which he helped craft, and that the bill “deserves serious debate, not knee-jerk reaction.”…
…He said he was “beginning to carefully review” the bill and to look at ways to “rescue” Colorado from what he called the “negative impacts” the Affordable Care Act across the U.S.
Senator Gardner is a member of the “working group” that was assigned to craft the Senate healthcare legislation. Gardner would like you to believe, however, that he hadn’t seen any text of the proposed legislation until it was released to the public on Thursday. Gardner has acknowledged being a member of the healthcare “working group,” and unless he participated in these discussions while wearing a blindfold, it is inconceivable that the language was a complete surprise to the Yuma Senator.
You can see how individual Senators such as Gardner are trying to spin, spin, spin their way out of this problem. As the Washington Post writes on Friday, this is also the strategy for the bill as a whole:
Republicans have gone to enormous lengths to obscure the plan’s profoundly regressive features. They have endlessly told the lie that no one will be worse off (because everyone will have “access” to affordable coverage), and they’ve developed numerous cleverly designed talking points designed to create the impression that, by slowly phasing in the loss of coverage for millions over time, this will create a painless transition to … well, to a blissful state in which everyone, again, has “access” to affordable coverage. Among these: “Smooth glide path.” “Rescue mission.” “Bridge to better health care.” “Soft landing.”
But it’s important to understand that this scam has multiple layers. The slow phase in isn’t merely about creating the impression of a painless transition. It’s also about deferring accountability. This is particularly the case with the Senate version of the bill, which must appear softer than the House bill in order to get the support of key Republican moderates who represent states with large Medicaid expansion populations.
Approximately 1 in 5 Americans rely on Medicaid for healthcare. If the current Senate bill ultimately goes into effect, literally millions of people will lose healthcare. Republicans are arguing over how long of a period they should stretch out the death of Medicaid – they call it a “transition period” – but the end result is that many people who have healthcare coverage today will not have it at some point in the near future.
Republicans are desperately trying to come up with new ideas to explain their Medicaid cuts as a “bridge” to something else, but there’s only one thing on the other side of that abyss: Fewer people with health care. If you had something before – like, say, apples – and you don’t have it later, it can be described as a “reduction” or a “cut” or whatever other phrase tickles your fancy. But it doesn’t make any difference what phrase you employ, because no words will change the math here.
The GOP isn’t dealing with a “message problem;” they are dealing with a “people are going to die so that we can cut taxes for the wealthy” problem. If you make life worse for most Americans, they aren’t going to console themselves in your boast that you repealed Obamacare.
As the headline of that Washington Post story referenced earlier states, this is “How Trump and Republicans may get away with hurting millions of people.”