BREAKING: “Repeal and Replace” Just a Big Scam

You should probably be sitting down before you read this. Ready?

Congressional Republicans, who once promised to “repeal and replace” President Obama’s healthcare law, for now have all but given up pushing alternatives to the sweeping legislation the president signed in 2010.

….As the House prepares to take its 33rd vote to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act, senior Republicans say they will not try to move a replacement plan until 2013 at the earliest….At the same time, GOP lawmakers are rejecting the notion that any replacement legislation should expand health coverage as much as the current law.

….Republican lawmakers say they have been clear about their broad principles for healthcare, including controlling costs, giving patients more choices and limiting government involvement….But Republican leaders have not brought any of these proposals to a vote.

That has shielded the party’s ideas from close scrutiny by independent analysts, a politically risky process that could highlight legislation’s costs and its impact on consumers and others. Such scrutiny proved embarrassing for House Republicans in 2009, when they proposed a detailed alternative to the healthcare legislation that Democrats were developing at the time.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded the GOP proposal would have left more than 50 million Americans without health insurance and reduced costs for healthy people while raising them for the sick. Similar study of the House Republicans’ 2011 budget plan indicated that a proposal to make Medicare beneficiaries shop for commercial insurance with a government voucher would leave seniors paying thousands of dollars more for their healthcare.

Who could have known that “repeal and replace” was just a scam? It’s shocking. Likewise, who could have known that even the vague Republican guidelines for healthcare reform don’t actually do much of anything to reform healthcare once they’re put into a form concrete enough to score?

But do voters care? I doubt it: this is one of those things that everyone already accepts without ever talking about it. Your average Joe, to the extent he even knows anything about this at all, understands perfectly well that “repeal and replace” is just political schtick, and all that’s going to happen if Republicans win is repeal. For the conservative base, of course, that’s fine. And for the broad middle it’s just something to shrug their shoulders at. Thanks to crappy marketing from Democrats, those folks in the middle probably don’t think Obamacare really benefits them in the first place, and thanks to brilliant marketing from Republicans they probably do think it will raise their taxes. Yay politics!

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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