Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Republicans Have No Health Care Plan

The Republican Health-Care Plan Is Almost Here, and Always Will Be
It would be nice if, like Chait, reporters would demonstrate more than 24-hour memories of the last five years.  How many times have we heard about the latest vaporware plan from Republicans that was just around the corner?  How many times does Lucy have to pull away the football?  

It's understandable though. There are many vitally important stories to cover, like Forkgate and MarciaKramerHatchetPiece-gate.
Lots of people treat the Republican Party's inability to unify around an alternative health-care plan, four years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, as some kind of homework assignment they keep procrastinating on. But the problem isn't that Cantor and Boehner and Ryan would rather lay around on the sofa drinking beer and playing video games than write their health-care plan already. 
It's that there's no plan out there that is both ideologically acceptable to conservatives and politically defensible. Carping from the sidelines is a great strategy for Republicans because status quo bias is extremely powerful. It lets them highlight the downside of every trade-off without owning any downside of their own. They can vaguely promise to solve any problem with the status quo ante without exposing themselves to the risk any real reform entails. Republicans can exploit the disruption of the transition to Obamacare unencumbered by the reality that their own plans are even more disruptive. 
Now, for this method to work, you need to pretend to have a plan of your own somewhere. Cathy McMorris-Rogers's response to the State of the Union address heavily emphasized the message that Republicans were definitely, positively going to unveil their own health-care plan. "We have solutions to help you take home more of your pay, through lower taxes, cheaper energy costs and affordable health care," she promised. "No, we shouldn't go back to the things — the way things were, but this law is not working. Republicans believe health-care choices should be yours, not the government's, and that whether you're a boy with Down syndrome or a woman with breast cancer, you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you." Time noted that "the repeal and replace message is already working."
Our "liberal" media corporations repeatedly allow themselves to be used by Republicans to disseminate disinformation. It's endemic, and its a problem.

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