This is a Math Problem, not a Message Problem

Would I still be smiling like this if I really wanted to take away your healthcare?

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.”

24 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Zappatero says:

    After the Mythical Moderate Republicans, hiding over there behind that herd of unicorns, fails to rescue the Entire Democratic Party from its years of ineptitude, all the super smart consultants will come up with the "there will be ads" ads that will finally convince voters that Democrats aren't that inept after all. 


  2. skeptical citizen says:

    I've sent Mike Coffman plenty of "shame-on-you" messages, and am certainly not a fan of his, but to his credit, he voted against the House's horrid AHCA.

  3. RepealAndReplace says:

    Dean Heller, a Republican from a state carried by HRC, became the 5th GOP senator to come out in opposition to Trump Care. If you're  scoring this at home,  it's now 53 "no" votes to some unknown number of yeses".

  4. Powerful Pear says:

    How the hell did Sally get 2 apples. Did she grow them? Did she buy them with food stamps. Did she steel them. Did she get them from the local food pantry or church. Did she buy them with her own money. What a stupid analogy. Did you get this idea from Banger?

    • unnamed says:

      She bought them at King Soopers.  They were on sale if you had your Sooper Card.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Says a stupid Republican analogist . . . 

      (PearS — I accept your apology)

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      (PearPearS — I knew that the two-apple math was gonna' present too much of a challenge to someone here, . . . I just assumed it would be Moderatus doing the whining.)

    • Voyageur says:

      She took her Uzi with her 100 round magazine to whole foods and asked nicely for two free samples of apples, that's how she got them!  When last seen, she was playing chess with Negev, who had two oranges.  This could be the start of something great.

      • mamajama55 says:

        If so, I came across something Sally should read before becoming too deeply involved with any gunhead.

        • Voyageur says:

          Can't get thelink to work.

          • mamajama55 says:

            Never mind, it was unkind. Funny, though. It was from a satirical news site "", which aggregates stories aboutguys doing stupid things with guns. Motto: 2 inches plus 2nd amendment = big man.

            Oh, and some women, too. This was a
            Colorado story, too.

            I actually haven't noticed any, um, physical correlations with being a gun head. However, there is a pretty clear emotional attachment to weapons and a need to stay heavily armed and protected against any eventuality, which do not tend to make for good relationships. I would warn any woman away from becoming involved with a gun "fancier".

            So, Negev, this isn't about you. Unless it's about you.

            Threadjacking complete!

            Back to the point of this thread – the Republican "health plan" actually takes health care away from people who have it now, and gives the money as tax breaks to rich individuals who don't need it. Sally can't eat her apples, but they can be speculated upon in the Apple Market.

            • Andrew Carnegie says:

              How do you know "rich individuals" "don't need it"?  It is the rich people's money that is taken away by the government to pay for the poor people's healthcare.  Maybe the rich people are getting tired of paying for it.

              • mamajama55 says:

                Which of these are necessities? Food, shelter, medicine? Or vacation homes, trips  luxury cars, extra padding in the IRA,  funds to buy politicians?

                Also, which ones help the economy when they are spent?

                Let me know when you've figured it out.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Please propose a more appropriate analogy regarding this transfer of wealth.

      Our nation has a long tradition of helping the less fortunate in our society.  President Reagan spoke about lifting ALL boats.  Jesus devoted himself to feeding the hungry and healing the sick.  This current legislation is class warfare designed to punish the poor and reward the rich which is the antithesis of our historic national compassion.  If you are hung up on how many apples Sally started with please substitute your own analogy and let us consider if it is more appropriate.


  5. Davie says:

    Gerbils can't chime in on all this wonderful news from his GOP lords because as he was practicing his spin, he wound up drilling a hole half way to China.  

    Extraction teams working the weekend think they might be able to get him back on shill duty by Monday.

  6. Gilpin Guy says:

    Gardner is going to have more than a messaging problem after he votes for this legislation.  AARP is vowing to hold all 100 senators accountable for their votes.

  7. Meiner49er says:

    "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."

    All true. Yet rich Americans put Trump over the top in 2016, and young/healthy Americans are likely to care less than you may think about what happens to the aging Boomer demographic that has done little for the under 30 set since assuming power two decades ago. In ten years, the Boomers will no longer be a force in politics because they'll be dead or infirm, and the Boomlet is likely to be better off for not having to pay all their medical bills. This is how you purchase political loyalty for a generation.

    It may be callous politics–hell, it's incredibly callous politics–but the Republicans at least seem to  understand the long game. Maybe if we Democrats stopped trying to recreate the 1960s we could develop our own long game for the 21st century?

    • If Republicans were really playing the long game with young voters, they would be working on climate issues, jobs, education… Republicans are working the short game here. Immediate gratification and to Hell with the future (which is somewhere after the Rapture anyway).

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