Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Healthcare Debacle and the GOP Culture of Cruelty: "A Display of Incompetence and Cruelty"

New York Times, "The TrumpRyanCare Debacle": 

Repealing the Affordable Care Act was meant to be the first demonstration of the power and effectiveness of a unified Republican government. It has turned out to be a display of incompetence and cruelty. . . . 
Despite their ceaseless attacks on the health care act since Mr. Obama signed it into law in March 2010, Mr. Trump, Mr. Ryan and their colleagues have never had a workable plan that could gain the support of a congressional majority. That is why they rushed their turkey of a bill to the floor without going through the laborious process of holding hearings and building coalitions. The last-minute wheeling and dealing did nothing to disguise the bill’s underlying and increasingly obvious purpose, which was to reduce taxes for the wealthy by cutting benefits for the needy.

Henry Giroux, "The Culture of Cruelty in Trump's America": 

The culture of cruelty has a long tradition in this country, mostly inhabiting a ghostly presence that is often denied or downplayed in historical accounts. What is new since the 1980s—and especially evident under Donald Trump's presidency—is that the culture of cruelty has taken on a sharper edge as it has moved to the center of political power, adopting an unapologetic embrace of nativism, xenophobia and white nationalist ideology, as well as an in-your-face form of racist demagoguery. Evidence of such cruelty has long been visible in earlier calls by Republicans to force poor children who get free school lunches to work for their meals. Such policies are particularly cruel at a time when nearly "half of all children live near close to the poverty line." Other instances include moving people from welfare to workfare without offering training programs or child care, and the cutting of children's food stamp benefits for 16 million children in 2014. Another recent example of this culture of cruelty was Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) tweeting his support for Geert Wilders, a notorious white supremacist and Islamophobic Dutch politician. . . . 
The culture of cruelty has become a primary register of the loss of democracy in the United States. The disintegration of democratic commitments offers a perverse index of a country governed by the rich, big corporations and rapacious banks through a consolidating regime of punishment. It also reinforces the workings of a corporate-driven culture whose airwaves are filled with hate, endless spectacles of violence and an ongoing media assault on young people, the poor, Muslims and undocumented immigrants. Vast numbers of individuals are now considered disposable and are relegated to zones of social and moral abandonment. In the current climate, violence seeps into everyday life while engulfing a carceral system that embraces the death penalty and produces conditions of incarceration that house many prisoners in solitary confinement—a practice medical professionals consider one of the worse forms of torture.

Michelle Goldberg, "Trumpcare Is What Happens When Misogynists Craft Health Care Policy": 

The cruel and stupid legislative clusterfuck known as the American Health Care Act has now failed. In trying to ram it through, however, Republicans succeeded in demonstrating, with coruscating clarity, what misogynist government looks like. In the negotiations over the ACHA, male Republicans treated women's health as a token to be traded away, repeatedly upping the ante with inventive new ways to make women vulnerable. Before it went down in flames, the Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare showed us how total disregard for women’s lives translates into policy.

Ernest Dumas, "Attack the Poor": 

If there is a unifying motif to the labors of Congress and the Arkansas legislature this spring it is to make life harder and existence more intolerable for Americans who don't have or make much money or else find themselves socially unacceptable owing to some physical or mental condition. Though masked by discussions about disincentives and religious convictions, the purposes are as simple as that. 
The tumult among Republicans over whether to scrap Obamacare altogether or just change a few key provisions to make the whole thing unworkable is altogether about how far to pull up the safety net for the poor — OK, and cutting taxes for the top tenth of 1 percent, drug companies and insurance companies that were levied by Obamacare to shore up Medicare and Medicaid. As part of the reform of Obamacare, Congress is about to start shriveling Medicaid (but after two more elections have passed) so that the needy, from indigents in nursing homes to the disabled of every description, will have to fight among themselves to preserve some access to medical care. The Trump and Ryan budgets — let's save them for another day. 
Bills are flying through the Arkansas legislature to make it harder to get nutrition and medical help, to dictate exactly what nourishment the poor can get with public assistance (no more Snickers or 7Ups), to cut off medical aid for people who don't have payroll jobs, to reduce unemployment benefits (Arkansas is not quite at the bottom yet), and the list goes on.

Juan Cole, "It's Class Warfare, Stupid. The GOP Crusade Against Health Care": 

The struggle over health care in the United States is a form of class warfare, complicated by racism. 
The Republican proposal for the "American Health Care Act," as they called it, made this warfare clear. The bill was not so much a health care act as a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, paid for by tossing 24 million people off health care insurance. 
In fact the bill failed because it made the class warfare too transparent. You can't give CEOs $500k tax breaks and throw 24 million people off health insurance and still be maintaining that you represent "the people." . . . 
In fact, half of those under the poverty line are white. But the corporations and wealthy who do not want their resources being used to keep the poor alive will make sure to play on these racialized fears. 

Ezra Klein, "The Failure of the Republican Health Care Bill Reveals a Party Unready to Govern": 

Big policy change is hard. The modern Republican Party has built itself in opposition. Paul Ryan won fame designing budgets that were never meant to pass, and by criticizing Barack Obama. Donald Trump established himself as a political force through his leadership of the crackpot birther movement. This is a party that has forgotten how to do the slow, arduous work of governing. Perhaps it’s worse than that. This is a party, in many ways, that has built its majority upon a contempt for the compromises, quarter-loaves, and tough trade-offs that governing entails. They need to learn from this defeat, or they are doomed to repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it. 

Charles Pierce, "The Republican Party Cannot Govern": 

They cannot govern. The Republican Party as it is presently constituted, from party base to congressional leadership, is competent to do two things: complain and vandalize.

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