A Party Not Ready to Govern

The story of Obamacare repeal would be funny if the healthcare– and, in a lot of cases, the lives– of countless Americans weren’t at stake.

We had 7– seven!– years throughout which Republicans kept promising to provide an alternative to Obamacare any day now, but never ever did. Came the months after the election, with more promises of details simply around the corner.Now there’s

apparently a strategy concealed someplace in the Capitol basement. Why the secrecy? Because the Republicans have actually belatedly found what some of us attempted to inform them all along: The only method to maintain coverage for the 20 million individuals who got insurance thanks to Obamacare is with a strategy that, surprise, looks a lot like Obamacare.Sure enough, the

new plan apparently does appear like a sort of half-baked variation of the Affordable Care Act. Politically, it seems to embody the worst of both worlds: It suffices like Obamacare to exasperate hard-line conservatives, but it compromises key aspects of the law enough to deprive millions of Americans– a lot of them white working-class citizens who backed Donald Trump– of necessary health care.

The idea, apparently, is to deal with these issues by passing the strategy prior to anyone gets a possibility to actually see or think of what’s in it. All the best with that.Then there

‘s business tax reform– an issue where the plan being advanced by Paul Ryan, the House speaker, is really excusable, at least in concept. Even some Democratic-leaning economists support a shift to a “destination-based capital tax,” which is best thought of as a sales tax plus a payroll subsidy. ( Trust me.) But Mr. Ryan has failed spectacularly to make his case either to colleagues or to powerful interest groups. Why? As finest I can tell, it’s because he himself doesn’t understand the point of the reform.The case for

the capital tax is rather technical; to name a few things, it would get rid of the rewards the existing tax system produces for corporations to load up on debt and to take part in specific type of tax avoidance. That’s not the kind of thing Republicans talk about– if anything, they’re in favor of tax avoidance, hence the Trump proposal to slash

funding for the I.R.S. No, in G.O.P. world, tax ideas always have to be presented provided ways to remove the shackles from oppressed job creators. So Mr. Ryan has framed his proposal, essentially incorrectly, as a measure to make American industry more competitive, focusing on the “border tax change” which is part of the sales-tax part of the reform.

This misrepresentation seems, nevertheless, to be backfiring: it seems like a Trumpist tariff, and has both conservatives and sellers like WalMart up in arms.

At this moment, then, major Republican efforts are slowed down for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the personality flaws of the tweeter in chief, and everything to do with the more comprehensive, more basic fecklessness of his party.

Does this mean that nothing substantive will take place on the policy front? Not always. Republicans might choose to ram through a health insurance that causes mass suffering, and wish to blame it on Mr. Obama. They may provide up on anything resembling a principled tax reform, and just throw a few trillion dollars at rich people instead.But whatever

the ultimate result, what we’re seeing is exactly what occurs when a party that quit difficult thinking in favor of empty sloganeering winds up in charge of real policy. And it’s not a quite sight.

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