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Political Suicide in its Purest Form

American Health Care Act
Written by Sam Stevens

Politics is full of nuance, but at the end of the day, the formula is pretty simple – he who implements policies that make the greatest share of voters happy will be rewarded come election time.

In that respect, the House GOP’s proposed repeal bill for Obamacare, and the scathing score it received from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”), is bad politics. It doesn’t take a political science professor to point that out.  

According to the CBO’s analysis, the House bill repealing Obamacare would lead to some 24 million people losing insurance over the next decade. In 2018 alone, a mid-term election year, 14 million people would lose their coverage. Even worse, the White House’s own analysis of the bill, performed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), pegged the number of previously insured who would lose coverage over the next decade at 26 million.  

Wait, it gets worse (for Republicans).

According to the CBO’s analysis, the base of President Trump’s support would be the biggest losers. That’s because the House GOP’s proposal puts older, low-income individuals between the ages of 50 and 64 in its crosshairs. That is primarily because, under the GOP plan, insurers would be able to charge older enrollees up to five times as much as young enrollees, whereas Obamacare limits the ratio to 3:1.

Just read the following hypothetical derived from the CBO’s analysis, as presented in a recent POLITICO article:

“If Obamacare were still in place in its current form a decade from now, a 64-year-old earning $26,500, or just less than twice the federal poverty level, would pay $1,700 for premiums in a year after accounting for federal assistance. Under the GOP plan, a 64-year-old at the same income level would pay $14,600 in premiums for coverage that would also have higher out-of-pocket costs.”

If this is Paul Ryan’s idea of an “act of mercy,” then you get the feeling that there will be plenty of people crying uncle by this time next year.

In many respects, the GOP-proposed bill is much less of a health care bill than it is a massive effort to redistribute incomes in America, to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor. The argument is laid out pretty neatly in this Vox article.

Of particular note, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center projects that the House GOP’s bill would give a tax cut for the top 1 percent of earners that averages out to $37,240 per year. The top 0.1 percent of earners would fare even better with projected tax savings that would average out to $207,390 per year.

The fallout over the House GOP’s health care bill again exposes the rifts of a party that, despite controlling all of Washington, lacks unity.

Paul Ryan’s solution to lowering premiums is to push out low-income, older Americans, thus ensuring that the risk pool is comparatively younger and healthier. Donald Trump, on the other hand, promised “insurance for everybody” in a January 15th interview with the Washington Post.

As a candidate, Trump also promised not to cut Medicaid, but Paul Ryan’s bill would cut $880 billion from the Medicaid program by 2026.

The clash of ideas over what defines conservative health care policy is now on full display. The Trump administration wants to make good on populist promises by expanding coverage, yet House Republicans have prioritized getting rid of the individual mandates – that have expanded the number of insured –  in the vein of “slashing big government.” Populism vs. Conservatism. Trumpism vs. Ryanism. The battle lines are being drawn.

The political fallout from the House GOP’s purported remedy to all that ails the nation’s health care system is in its infancy, but, already, there are serious causes for concern in GOP circles. As of the writing of this article, the three-day rolling average of Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll shows a net job approval of -9 – the worst that the poll has recorded in the Trump presidency.

For some reason, I can’t muster much sympathy for the political pickle Republicans currently find themselves in. Welcome to governing, gentlemen.


Sam was raised in our nation’s capitol and, for as long as he can remember, has always been an avid political junkie. In a former life, he worked as a staffer to a U.S. Senator. He now works as an economic development consultant in Atlanta, but moonlights as a freelance political writer as a way to scratch his political “itch.” He is a regular contributor to Political Storm.

1 Comment

  • It’s suicide because the promise has been to repeal Obamacare and Ryancare does not. Trump has been doing great with keeping promises, and repeal is the most Yuuge promise he made and he better keep it. Failure will utterly destroy his support. His success as president is at stake. Ryancare is betrayal. More Republican same ole – same ole. The ‘deal-maker’ is being snookered. The great dealmaker goes down. GOP Establishment RINO’s win again.

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About the author

Sam Stevens

Sam was raised in our nation's capitol, and for as long as he can remember has always been an avid political junkie. In a former life, he worked as a staffer to a U.S. Senator. He now works as an economic development consultant in Atlanta, but moonlights as a freelance political writer as a way to scratch his political "itch."