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Thursday, March 9, 2017

It's Not Just About the Tax Cuts (and Certainly Not About Choice)

Image Courtesy of Rep. Keith Ellison's shade throwing machine

As we get closer to zero hour (the vote could be today or it could be in a week):

I wanted to make one point. I Tweeted this earlier today to Matt Yglesias (who won't respond, because he's Matt Yglesias):

Note that I didn't say "trying to help the wealthy 'at the expense of' everyone else."

This isn't just about helping the wealthy save money, though that's a huge part of everything the Republicans do. It's also about undermining the labor force. By making it both more convenient and more affordable for people to be able to purchase health insurance on the individual markets, it makes it so that people are less reliant on their employers. Students can stay in school longer, parents can work part-time (or not at all) in order to stay home with their kids, people can work for themselves, older workers can retire a bit earlier, and it generally gives people more choices and flexibility about where they work and what compensation they can accept. THAT's choice. This is not:

Instead of Obamacare's individual mandate, the GOP's American Health Care Act, unveiled on Monday night, would allow insurers to charge a 30 percent penalty to consumers who have gaps in health coverage.

So if you've been looking for work for a few weeks, and you decide you might want to wait just a bit longer to wait for a better opportunity to pop up or hold out for a better offer and thus go an extra month or two without insurance, well, you're going to pay an extra 30% (for an indefinite period, maybe the rest of your life) next time you find yourself on the individual market (which if Ryan has his way, could be when you're a senior citizen).

And with the exchanges gone and lower, if any, subsidies, those aforementioned students have to get jobs, those parents have to go back to work full-time, freelancers and small business owners have to turn to large corporations, and those older workers have to stay at their jobs longer. This increases the labor force, which drives wages down. That can create a vicious cycle; if competition increases considerably for jobs and people get more desperate, they might have to take jobs that not only pay less, but not offer benefits SUCH AS HEALTH INSURANCE. This is HHS Secretary Tom Price's dream:

The legislation HHS nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) has offered over the years include mainstays of GOP plans that would usher in a drastic change in how most people receive their health care coverage. The employer-based insurance market covers seven times more people than the individual market.
"What he's getting at here, and a lot of Republicans feel pretty strongly about this, to get a functioning insurance market, you have to get away from businesses buying the insurance," explained Joe Antos, a health policy scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute. "The philosophy is, ultimately, you want to transition, in some orderly way, to where everybody is buying their own insurance." 

Along the same lines, Republicans hate Social Security not only because it taxes employers, but because it provides people with some measure of security -- they know they're have something to turn to in their 60s, so they don't have to cling to employment. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities released a study in 1999 (which I'm sure holds close to true now) showing that Social Security (to say nothing of Medicare and Medicaid) reduces poverty among the elderly 50% to about 12%. To Republicans (and their corporate overlords), that's bad.

The Republicans will be satisfied with nothing less than a Grapes of Wrath-esque company town feudalism. It's a race to the bottom. Let's not let them fire the starting gun. Call your congresspeople now.

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