Charles P. Pierce on what Trump voters got in their deal.
Yeah, you. All of you. All of you people who’ve been buying what the radicalized Republican party has been selling you since Reagan rode out of Trickledown Gulch back in 1980. All of you who easily gobbled up the fictions about welfare queens, and “crazy checks,” and big black bucks buying T-Bone steaks, and, most recently, of immigrants come to steal your jobs and cut your throats in the night. All of you who worried so profoundly about your neighbors who were black, or Hispanic, or Muslim that you handed the government to the people who have been picking your pocket and selling off your birthright for going on four decades.
And, especially, all of you morons who bought what the inevitable product of 30 years of fear-driven democratic malpractice was selling across the country in 2016: that he had a plan that would lower costs, cover everybody, and not touch Social Security, Medicaid, or Medicare.
Today is not the day for you to ask for my understanding as to how you’re going to afford Grandma’s chemo now that she’s busted the lifetime cap on her insurance. Today is not the day for you to ask for my sympathy for Grandpa who’s going to get his ass hoisted out of his rest home and dropped onto the couch in your basement family room because his Medicaid ran out. Today is not the day for you to moan into TV cameras about how Cousin Clyde with the opioid problem has to go back to sticking up tourists for his fix because the little hospital up by the mountain closed.
Not today. Not this particular Thursday. Maybe by Monday.
The Senate unveiled its big secret tax-cut plan on Thursday morning. It also contains some elements dealing with healthcare that will make the lives of millions of sick and elderly Americans immeasurably worse, but, since it’s actually a tax-cut bill, and it actually does cut taxes for the wealthiest among us, then I guess you can say the strategy was a success. And they say the Republicans can’t govern. Hah.
Of course, it’s as bad as we all thought it would be. It virtually zeroes out Medicaid down the line – letting it “die on the vine,” just the way Newt Gingrich recommended 20 years ago. It forces low-income people to pay more for policies once called “street-surance” back in the day. (John Grisham should sue these guys. They stole the entire plot from The Rainmaker.) There’s a lot of “handing back to the states,” which can be translated as “Give Sam Brownback more money to hand out to his donors.” The bill is such a transparent sham that one of its provisions, the repeal of the tax on investment income for wealthy individuals and families, was made retroactive to the end of last year. There is no reason on god’s earth to make this retroactive unless your main purpose is to shove more of the nation’s wealth upwards. Which is what this bill is primarily designed to do.
Let me put it in measurements that are particularly of interest to me. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be 16 million people in the United States with Alzheimer’s Disease. Right now, in 2017 dollars, the estimated costs of treating and caring for AD patients is $236 billion dollars. Of that, $154 billion is picked up by Medicare and Medicaid. Tell me now how that gap is made up by a plan that virtually eliminates Medicaid entirely by the time we get to 2025. Churches? Families? Winning the Lotto?
So, yeah, suckers. This is what you voted for. In fact, this is what you’ve been voting for, over and over again, ever since the Death Valley Days of jellybeans and missiles to the mullahs. This bill is the pot of gold at the end of Paul Ryan’s personal rainbow. This bill is everything that every young conservative brought up in the luxurious terrariums of wingnut welfare is taught to revere from the first day of his political gestation, right down to its playing-to-the-cheap-seats whack at Planned Parenthood.
This bill is the pot of gold at the end of Paul Ryan’s personal rainbow.
So far, four GOP senators have said they cannot vote for the bill. They are Ron (Shreds of Freedom) Johnson of Wisconsin, Aqua Buddha from Kentucky, Mike Lee, the konztitooshunal skolar from Utah, and Tailgunner Ted Cruz. They can’t support it (at the moment) because it isn’t repeal-ish enough for them. (Translation: The bill still coddles the poor and infirm beyond the limits God intended when He wrote the Constitution.) Now, as the redoubtable Digby often points out, if they were to torpedo this plague ship, it wouldn’t be the first time the wingiest members of the tribe saved the day. But my money stays on the notion that they will find enough crazy ideas in the House during reconciliation to satisfy the likes of these four. As for the vaunted Republican “moderates,” I have no faith in them whatsoever. I think Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia will get bought off by an increase in the bill’s stingy provisions regarding the opioid epidemic. Some version of this creature will stalk its way into law.
I’m sorry, but I can’t let the suckers off the hook on this particular Thursday, not when I know in my bones that, in a year or so, there are going to be more expeditions into The Real America in which we hear sad tales about the closing of rural hospitals, and medical bankruptcies, and children who died because the insurance company denied them a life-saving treatment. There will be all kinds of reasons postulated for this terrible state of affairs. “Culture” probably will be one of them, and it will be the stupidest one of all.
What will not be mentioned is that many of these people brought their tragedies on themselves, that voting has consequences, and that using a presidential election to hock a collective loogie at “The Establishment” and at Those People is a particularly dumbass way to participate in democracy.
Have a nice day.