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Here comes Trumpcare: Deconstructing its terminology



Whenever I hear a Republican use the word “choice” I reach for my gun. Choice, for Repubs, means: We’re taking your rights away, only we’re calling it something that sounds positive. Now, they want to take away guaranteed, affordable healthcare for tens of millions of people and replace it with: “If you can afford it, fine. If you can’t, stop whining.” It’s funny; they hate the notion of “choice” when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, but they love it when they can dismantle a government program that helps real people. Of course, they can’t admit they’re wrecking a popular program, so instead they resort to Orwellian double-speak: “We’re taking away affordable healthcare from you, but don’t worry, you’ll have many more choices than you had under that awful Obamacare.”

Another favorite Republican word is “innovate” Now, they want to destroy Obamcare to let the states “innovate.” What it really means is: We’ll let states discriminate against minorities, instead of having a common national standard of fairness for all Americans. Let North Caroline “innovate” in deciding who’s free to use which bathroom. Let Mississippi, one of the poorest, unhealthiest states, “innovate” by cutting the amount of money they spend on rural healthcare. Let Texas make it harder for people of color to vote by “innovating” on the Voting Rights Act. Same thing when Repubs, like HHS secretary Price, talk about “empowering Americans” with Trumpcare. What a load. To them, “empowering” means taking away current rights and then forcing the disenfranchised to figure out how to do without them.

Imaginery conversation. Here’s HHS’s Price to Poor Person: “I’m taking away your healthcare subsidy.”

Poor Person to Price: “Then how can I afford healthcare?”

Price: “I’ve empowered you, dude!”

Repubs are touting “a broad set of plans Americans can actually use” as their rationale for Trumpcare. Interpreted, that means “You’ll be able to have the plan you can afford. And since our new law is going to make healthcare a lot more expensive, that means more of you will not be able to afford coverage at all.” Repubs also are hell-bent on killing Medicaid; they are about to yank insurance away from millions of the poorest Americans. In eliminating the Medicaid expansion part of Obamacare, they are making it nearly impossible for cash-strapped states to come up with the money to provide insurance to their poorest citizens.

But hey, that’s choice! Innovation! Empowerment!

The chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, when asked yesterday if he earnestly believes Trumpcare will increase quality and coverage while decreasing costs, replied, “Not only do I think that but President Trump believes that.” Well, that’s reassuring no? Donald J. Trump, the fount of truth and credibility, who never told a lie. Doesn’t that make you feel better?

Similarly, when I hear Repubs talk about “access” to healthcare, I hear: “Dear Americans, each of you will be able to get a healthcare plan, in theory. Whether or not you can afford it is a different story. But, hey, that’s not our problem, it’s yours!” It’s like saying, “You have access to the Moon.” True, dat—in theory. But I can’t get there on my own.

As for those “health savings accounts,” major problems! First and foremost, you can only put money into an H.S.A. if you have discretionary income, just like with an I.R.A. or 401(K). And a lot of people don’t have that extra $50 a month. Secondly—again like a retirement plan—it takes years to build up enough capital in a health savings account for it to do any good. If you’re facing a mastectomy or stent procedure, you need the money now, not in five years. Do you have any idea how long it would take for the average $50,000 a year wage earner to save up for a stent? The Affordable Care Act gave people that money now, through subsidies and the Medicaid expansion. This replacement is a con job that will cost lives; tax exemptions will do nothing for poor people who barely pay taxes anyway. But then, Republicans don’t care about poor people.

Look, there was never anything wrong with the Affordable Care Act that some congressional tinkering couldn’t fix. Obama himself so acknowledged. But Repubs were never interested in fixing it. They wanted to insult President Obama, personally and politically. They wanted to humiliate a man they hated, because he was a Democrat…because he was articulate and respected…because he was kind and smart…because they’re afraid History will adjudge him to have been a great President…because he is black…because he has a beautiful, black wife and two beautiful black daughters, thus lending the lie to the Republican meme that “The blacks” (as Trump calls them) are “thugs” who have “no spirit.”

Now, they’ve done what they wanted. I’m sure Obama is sitting in a dark room someplace, nursing his wounds and feeling resentful. Not! I think he’s getting ready to come out any day now and take some kind of active leadership of The Resistance. He went overboard to be respectful of Trump and, post-election, Obama did everything he could to remain above the fray and be helpful. But imagine how he must feel. Most everybody I know loathes Trump. Obama has special reasons to hate him—not so much personally, for Obama is above that sort of petty emotion, but to hate him for the disgrace with which Trump has stained the American Presidency.

Wouldn’t it be something if Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush held a joint news conference in which they warn America about the dangers of this man and his regime? We know how George W. feels about Trump: Trump not only insulted him repeatedly but was personally offensive towards George’s little brother, Jeb. I was not a big George W. fan, but let’s give him credit for being a decent human being, with an interest in preserving the dignity of the Oval Office, and in seeing only honorable men or women occupy it. Which is not the case now.

President Bush? President Clinton? President Obama? Talk to each other. The quaint old practice of ex-Presidents retiring into a shell of silence is over. Your country needs you!

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