The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

The Aspects of Health-Care Reform Republicans Don’t Like Discussing

The Aspects of Health-Care Reform Republicans Don’t Like Discussing

My colleague Dan McLaughlin has good advice for congressional Republicans regarding the effort to reform health care, which means they almost certainly will not follow this advice:

All of this is why Republicans should not hitch their wagon to any single, comprehensive bill, nor should they promise the voters a “Republican health-care plan.” Instead, they should seek to roll out a series of improvements to the health-insurance system, each with its own voting coalitions. That conclusion is supported by two observations. One, many parts of the AHCA were more popular than the bill itself, so the odds of passage — and sustainable entrenchment over time — increase as votes are broken into pieces. And two, the entire dynamic of each party seeking to pass party-line total overhauls of the system is bad for the system and bad for Republicans and conservatives, neither of which groups is truly comfortable having gigantic fights over health-care issues every two to four years.

This next point is particularly important, and my sense is that very few “Why can’t they just repeal the whole thing now?” Republicans don’t want to hear it at all:

A lot of people, many of them now Republican voters, depend on government subsidies (via Medicaid or otherwise) to cover their health insurance. Republican deregulatory policies can reduce some of the costs of insurance, by eliminating barriers to interstate competition, reducing tort liabilities, converting “essential benefits” mandates into disclosure requirements, etc. But they can’t, any time soon, solve the basic problem, which is pervasive in education and health-care debates these days: The costs have spiraled so far out of the reach of ordinary middle-income people that they’ve despaired of paying for them from their own earnings. And even if they could, it would take time to resolve the political reality of finding new insurance for the people who are currently on the Obamacare dole, who will need to be grandfathered to allow them to stay on the current system for some time.

I don’t like the fact that Obamacare added 10 to 11 million new people to the Medicaid rolls. But I also don’t think it’s wise, fair, or good to yank Medicaid coverage away from these people without a reliable way to move them to alternative affordable private coverage. This doesn’t make for good table-founding talk radio or cable news segments, but it is a fact of life. What do we, as conservatives, want to tell a single mom with two children making about $40,000 per year, whose employer does not offer coverage, about health insurance? The Obamacare answer is, “relax, you’ve got Medicaid.” (Medicaid has plenty of flaws, most notably the number of doctors who aren’t accepting new patients on it, but at least it’s something.) The Republican answer can’t be, “don’t worry, with enough competition amongst different insurers, you’ll find a plan with premiums, co-pays, and deductibles that you can afford someday, maybe in about ten years, based on the CBO score.”

The French Elites, Comfortable with American Elites’ Playbook from 2016

Writing in the New York Times, Kamel Daoud contends that France’s political elites are telling themselves reassuring lies about how Marine Le Pen couldn’t possibly win:

Why is it, finally, that Ms. Le Pen cannot become president? Because while the far right has changed its discourse, the mainstream elites still hold on to their old ways of seeing the world, or imagining what it is.

Their analysis of the rise of populism is out of sync. It rests on assumptions, faulty reasoning and denial. The prospect of a Le Pen presidency upsets a kind of political positivism: the view that democracy can go only from good to better, from being a necessity to being a right. Ms. Le Pen’s election would run counter to the course of history, the reasoning goes, and therefore it cannot be. This is a happy ending for elites: a narrative convention, a marketable concept, a variant form of utopia — and the basis of an irrational political analysis.

Out-of-touch elites believing that they are destined to win forever because they represent progress? We know the feeling.

Fox News’s Steady Nurturing of a Certain Kind of Right

Our Ian Tuttle offers an intriguing assessment of Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump, and a generational divide on the right:

The last year has revealed just how significant that divide really is. Eager for a young, conservative, idea-oriented presidential candidate, many second- and third-generation conservatives lined up behind Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. But Donald Trump leapt into the race and unwittingly found himself the beneficiary of a center-right energy that many thought had dissipated forever. The clearest example was among the “religious Right,” where older, Moral Majority–era types (such as Jerry Falwell Jr. and Pat Buchanan) backed Trump vigorously, while younger Evangelicals (such as Southern Baptist minister Russell Moore) rejected him. A similar dynamic played out in conservative media, where Trump alienated many young, prominent conservatives (early opponents of Trump included Ben Shapiro, Katie Pavlich, and Ben Domenech) but found fierce defenders in O’Reilly and Hannity. When much of Fox News de facto backed Trump, midway through the primary season, it could hardly come as a shock: It was already obvious that the same type of person Fox had targeted for 20 years was likely to be an ardent Trump supporter.

It is difficult, of course, to distinguish cause and effect in all of this. Has the Right made Fox? Or has Fox made the Right? The answer is surely: both, to a degree. But what becomes increasingly clear is that, to the extent that Fox has made the Right, it has made a certain kind of Right and become the model for other conservative media. Tomi Lahren, a former host on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, was attempting to re-create the glib, pugnacious Fox News model for a younger audience. It is not clear, though, that the model can be translated — or ought to be. Fox News’s success has to no small degree depended on its appeal to a particular form of right-wing sentiment, and that success has sharpened a divide between groups of right-wingers with very different visions of what a “conservative” America ought to look like.

I recall a somewhat similar generational split in 2011 when easily forgotten presidential candidate Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment and affairs. Prominent conservative voices of the Baby Boomer generation were quick to insist the accusers had to be lying and this was all part of a smear campaign by liberals. Generation-X conservative writers weren’t so eager to rush to the ramparts to insist there was no way Cain would behave badly. It seemed to the older voices, Cain was “one of us” and thus deserved to be trusted and defended on faith; the younger voices weren’t quite so certain that “one of us” couldn’t possibly have done something wrong. They remembered John Ensign, Vito Fossella, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Mark Foley, Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, Bob Packwood…

By December, Cain was denying an affair with one woman, insisting he merely been friends with the accuser for thirteen years, that his wife didn’t know about the friendship, and that he had given the woman money to help with paying her rent and not told his wife about that gift, either. Furthermore, Cain was unwilling to say how much money he had given her. When you’re not willing to say… we can assume it’s considerable enough to be embarrassing to disclose. People will draw their own conclusions from that sort of generous secret arrangement.

ADDENDA: A packed show on this week’s pop culture podcast: Mickey and I look ahead to the joys and aggravations of spring wedding season; wonder about just what the culture of Fox News was like behind closed doors; dissect People’s debatable criteria for the most beautiful people alive; ask whether there’s a point to wanting healthier options at fast-food places; react to the many, many listeners who offered beloved bad movies; and finish with a quick dissection of the new Star Wars trailer.

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