Indeed, if there's a single worst actor in this drama, it is Ryan, whose reputation for personal integrity and political competence have little basis in reality. Throughout, Ryan has misled and obfuscated, spinning the AHCA as a net benefit for Americans, when it's anything but. And he’s done this in service of his central agenda: tax cuts and the evisceration of a safety net he once blasted as a "hammock" that lulls Americans to "dependence." Most Americans oppose this rhetoric, which is why Ryan and his party have to lie to sell their program of slashing insurance for the poor to fund tax cuts for the rich.
Ryan and his singular drive are emblematic of the party he leads. The GOP is well in the grip of an ideological mania, committed to a rigid and hierarchical vision of America, where help comes only to those who deserve it, and where the "deserving" are a small, select group, chosen by the market, or defined by their inherited wealth and privilege. If the American Health Care Act is a callous and destructive bill, it's because it come from a party that’s made cruelty its cardinal virtue.
Yesterday evening, I saw an interesting discussion on Twitter in which several young Catholics expressed dismay at the fact that the Trumpcare bill had passed the House, and claimed that "Catholics" opposed this bill. Here's a response to those young Catholics I posted on my Facebook page this morning:
1. Paul Ryan wrote the bill (while vacationing at his luxurious beach house).
2. Paul Ryan is Catholic.
3. Paul Ryan has been the darling of the U.S. Catholic bishops for a long time now.
4. The U.S. Catholic bishops relentlessly attacked Obamacare.
5. The U.S. Catholic bishops were, as a body, ominously and complicitously silent as Trump campaigned, and have — to my knowledge — not uttered e'er a word about this healthcare bill and what it will do to millions of Americans.
6. 60% of white Catholics (or 57% in some other studies: I refuse to quibble about a few percentage points, when a solid majority of white Catholics voted for Trump) helped elect Donald Trump.
What are you folks talking about, when you imagine that "Catholics" have spoken out against the Trumpcare bill?!
The photo of Paul Ryan and other Republican House members celebrating yesterday's "victory" in the Rose Garden with Donald Trump is by Reuters.