Patterico's Pontifications

12/20/2019

Republicans Once Again Win the Wrong Battle

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:14 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Earlier today the President tweeted this:

For the life of me, I never understood why the GOP made repealing the “Cadillac Tax” on lavish health plans a high priority. I get how after failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) they have been attempting to systematically dismantling it by, for example, killing the penalty for those who fail to purchase health care. And thanks to collusion between Congressional Democrats and Republicans the tax on expensive high-end health plans was never implemented to begin with, so it’s not as if formally killing it has any budget effect. But we now find ourselves at the point where ObamaCare is still officially on the books yet with fewer and fewer options for paying for it. One interesting aspect of the tax was that it would have hit hardest among union members and other groups who generally negotiate for too-generous health benefits, so even though the Obama Administration needed to include the tax in the ACA legislation in order to balance the books they were more than happy to cynically abandon the concept once the bill had safely passed. And I have always thought it was a strategic mistake for Republicans to have acceded to this chicanery, but I guess the general anti-tax fervor of the party overwhelms any notions of fiscal sanity.

ObamaCare was and is a lousy piece of legislation, but when feckless Republicans were unable to undo it (a big part of your legacy, John McCain) they should not have agreed to a system where millions of people receive government subsidies but nobody is taxed in order to fund them. It’s likely that a supposed anti-single-payer chief executive like a President Biden or President Buttigieg won’t see the point in re-fighting this battle, so the idea of taxing high-end health care plans, many of which are already taxpayer paid, is now dead for the foreseeable future.

And we’re looking at a future of trillion dollar deficits if we don’t change course, so goodbye to fiscal sanity once and for all.

58 Responses to “Republicans Once Again Win the Wrong Battle”

  1. And don’t get me started on raising the smoking age to 21.

    JVW (eea239)

  2. The Cadillac tax was meant to mess over people who got their health care from work. If your health care was any better than the BS obamacare then you had to pay the govt for the privilege of having decent healthcare. I am glad it was repealed. Just for that BS Obama should be tried for treason. Of course I am sure Obama and Congress would be exempt.

    Sunshine (308808)

  3. It still ticks me off that Obama planned to get rid of my health care through a back door Cadillac tax. If we want to save trillions on US health care then stop giving it to illegals and fake refugees for free. This was just one more (bleep) those who are working to give free (bleep) to illegal Democrat voters. I think Obama and his minions should be tried for treason and if convicted then punished via the US treason laws.

    Sunshine (308808)

  4. National health care, to me, is a really bad idea to begin with. But to the degree that you insist upon implementing it, you’re going to have to pay for it you might as well tax the people who have great health care if you are going to be truly progressive about it.

    JVW (eea239)

  5. Twenty-six. As in 26. It’s a magic number in Obamacare. It’s the one thing that the white quasi-affluent middle-class likes about Obamacare and why their Congresspanderers of either party don’t want to repeal it in its entirety.

    “But twenty-six (26) what?”, you exclaim. “Don’t tease us, nk!”

    Ok, ok, I’ll tell! Kids can stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

    nk (dbc370)

  6. I look at this… repealing the Cadillac tax is another paper-cut towards the ACA. Soon, there won’t be much left. That should make it easier to repeal it in the future. (especially coupled with the Mandate being ruled unconstitutional in the 5th district appellate court)

    But, the spending bill… holy.moses. it’s loaded with stuff that Trump and both parties would deem as a “win”.

    Perfect example of the sausage-making of spending bills.

    whembly (c30c83)

  7. a big part of your legacy, John McCain

    Blaming McCain for Trump’s failure to keep his campaign promise ignores the facts about what was actually happening in that vote.

    The shell bill that McCain voted “No” on was being voted on with the explicit understanding (promise by Speaker Ryan) that the House would under no circumstances pass it as it stood, and was an attempt to delay the inevitable failure by going back to a conference committee to come up with something that could pass both houses (which they had already spent months doing without success).

    In other words, the bill that McCain voted “No” on would have never been signed into law, and Trump’s failure to keep his campaign promise to replace Obamacare with something that covered more people better “at a tiny fraction of the cost” is in no way McCain’s fault.

    Blaming McCain is like blaming the quarterback of a team down by 14 points with 30 seconds left in the 4th quarter, who takes a sack on the 4th and long Hail Mary, for losing the game.

    Dave (1bb933)

  8. Obamacare is a beachhead; America will have a viable, affordable NHS by the end of the century, simply because of greed. And why?

    Because Americans want it.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  9. And don’t get me started on raising the smoking age to 21.

    Isn’t that a state thing?
    I realize that the federal idea of leaving some things to the states was abandoned by the GOP when it let Bush pass the No Child Left Behind act, but still…

    And the Parental Leave business…is that for military people, DoD employees, or all federal employees?

    Kishnevi (1f8073)

  10. Why are comments about the reigning fiscal insanity relegated to the fringes of political discourse? This country is destroying its future with levels of public debt that are mind boggling, and almost nobody talks about it. We need a major political party that can find a way to deliver adequate services for an amount of money that approximates government revenue. Why is this regarded as a radical idea?

    V. Francis Cox (43656d)

  11. This includes something we don’t need ( more bureaucracy with a space force) with something we didn’t want (Paid Parental Leave for Federal workers). I’d say it’s a total loss.

    Time123 (d54166)

  12. Ok, ok, I’ll tell! Kids can stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

    Probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that this is one of my least-favorite aspects of the ACA. The infantilization of the American “adult” marches onward.

    JVW (eea239)

  13. V. Francis Cox: welcome, and thanks for the comment. Please visit us often and engage with us; it seems like you a simpatico with the beliefs of a lot of us here.

    JVW (eea239)

  14. We need a major political party that can find a way to deliver adequate services for an amount of money that approximates government revenue. Why is this regarded as a radical idea?

    It’s not a question of “delivering adequate services”. Non-defense discretionary spending is about 1.5% of GDP *lower* now than the last time we ran a surplus. If ALL non-defense discretionary spending were eliminated – zeroed out completely – the budget would *still* be in deficit.

    The problem can be summarized as: We are unwilling to be taxed at a level that would pay for the entitlements being disbursed.

    This website (The Debtfixer, from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget) allows you to play around with spending and revenues to try to fix things. It includes a lot of options, cutting or raising spending in many areas, and increasing or decreasing various forms of revenue. It’s a very interesting learning tool:

    http://www.crfb.org/debtfixer/

    Dave (1bb933)

  15. In case it’s not clear, I liked V. Francis’s comment that I responded to!

    Dave (1bb933)

  16. I’d say it’s a total loss.

    I’m inclined to agree with you. If you can’t restrain spending when the economy is strong then you will never restrain spending. How our country could use a man like Calvin Coolidge again!

    JVW (eea239)

  17. 10. Following the constitution as its framers intended would be a good start.

    Gryph (08c844)

  18. hey hey
    hey ho
    baseline budgeting
    has got to go

    mg (8cbc69)

  19. John McCain was a very principled man. Very. An icon of the Senate, more principled than even Amash

    steveg (354706)

  20. Nobody had more principles than Johnny McCain.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  21. Whether its the Steele doisser, not inviting TRump to his funeral, kissing up to Jerry fallwell and then calling him a “agent of intolerance”, lying about Obamacare, Amnesty and supporting the Confederate SC state flag, etc.

    He had a LOT of principles – ever changing principles.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  22. just wait till me get Joe Biden. Then we’ll see fiscal responsibility.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  23. just wait till me get Joe Biden. Then we’ll see fiscal responsibility

    From the GOP.

    Strange how they like being for responsibility only when they are the party in Opposition, and therefore can be as irresponsible as they like.

    Kishnevi (1f8073)

  24. Hows biden going to govern in a crow bar hotel from the Ukraine?

    mg (8cbc69)

  25. Kamikaze juan

    mg (8cbc69)

  26. But if Trump and Biden are both terrible on spending it makes sense to look at
    A). Other issues.
    B). 2nd order responses. Such as Republicans care about spending when a dem is I the White House. Dems never care. So a dem President will at least get the GOP in Congress to want to curtail spending.

    Time123 (d54166)

  27. This Space Force thing. Will the orange be the commander in chief? And will he wear a nifty black uniform with a cuirass and pauldrons and a cape and a bell helmet? And will he be called Darth Trump or Darth Donald?

    nk (dbc370)

  28. Obamacare had nothing to do with keeping costs down, as Obama’s people already admitted was just a lie to get the bill passsed.

    It was all about getting people who already paid too much for healthcare to also pay for others in this country who either were not able or had no inclination to pay for their own (and would hopefully reward the Democrats w votes).

    “ The result was a huge new revenue stream for the health care industry, which rapidly reorganized itself around extracting funds from the program—which is to say, from American taxpayers—by any means possible. In the first year alone, average daily charges for U.S. hospitals shot up by 21.9 percent, according to professors Ted Marmor of Yale and Jon Oberlander of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The rate of growth of physician fees more than doubled in the year between the law’s passage and Medicare going into effect. During the first five years of the program’s existence, reimbursements through the program grew by 72 percent, while enrollment grew by just 6 percent.

    And the program kept on growing, accounting for a larger and larger proportion of both the federal budget and total national health spending. If the latter had grown at pre-Medicare rates, the United States would be spending just $220 billion today, according to Charles Silver of the University of Texas at Austin and David A. Hyman of the University of Illinois. Instead, the figure is a staggering $3.4 trillion, or about 18 percent of the economy.

    In their recent book, Overcharged: Why Americans Pay Too Much for Health Care (Cato), Silver and Hyman argue that the U.S. health system is best understood not as a means of delivering the best possible care but as a system for funneling as much money to health care providers as possible.

    https://reason.com/2019/08/26/health-care-spending-is-out-of-control/
    __ _

    harkin (15bd84)

  29. The orange is desperate for “accomplishments”. Any kind of pig he can put lipstick on and claim as his own. So he makes “deals” with the Democrats, he makes “deals” with rich jerkoffs, he makes “deals” with China, and he desperately tries to make a “deal” with North Korea. He gives away the store and in return he gets Friday night’s beer money that he flashes to his base. Since that’s their idea of wealth, it works.

    nk (dbc370)

  30. Trump says “I’m not Orange. Impeach”

    Time123 (69b2fc)

  31. sorry, typo, meant “I’m Peach”

    Time123 (69b2fc)

  32. They’re both fruits.

    nk (dbc370)

  33. And will he be called Darth Trump or Darth Donald?

    Jar-Jar.

    Dave (1bb933)

  34. R.I.P. Claudine Auger

    ‘Domino’ sugar of Bond ‘Thunderball’ fame.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  35. A). Other issues.
    B). 2nd order responses. Such as Republicans care about spending when a dem is I the White House. Dems never care. So a dem President will at least get the GOP in Congress to want to curtail spending.

    Time123 (d54166) — 12/20/2019 @ 5:55 pm

    2nd order responses? How about 2nd Amendment responses because voting for the left means abandoning the Bill of Rights.

    The left doesn’t believe in God given anything.

    NJRob (e3373c)

  36. 35. What’s worse? Not believing in God-given rights, or pandering by appealing to God-given rights when a politician doesn’t really believe in that bulls**t?

    Gryph (08c844)

  37. How much more do you want to be taxed? If deficit/debt upsets you you can volunteer to pay more.!

    asset (91f1b7)

  38. Getting rid of the Cadillac tax was a UNION goal. If it affected government plans (or rather, threatened to) then it really had to go.

    Probably the deadliest nail to go into Obamacare was done by Executive Order, undoing the “co-pay sharing” that had the Treasury spending unallocated funds to make Obamacare nearly free of co-pays for the lowest-income subscribers.

    It resulted in some getting trans-platinum plans that could not be bought by anyone else. Oddly, there were an inordinate number of lowest-income subscribers. Trump ended this scandal.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  39. Blaming McCain for saving Obamacare is intellectually dishonest. There was no way the plan that a simple repeal was going to pass the House.

    If you want to blame someone, blame the House Freedom Caucus, which blocked the only workable plan, which was also Stage 1 of a general entitlement reform.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  40. There was no way the plan that a simple repeal was going to pass the House.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  41. I guess the general anti-tax fervor of the party overwhelms any notions of fiscal sanity.

    There’s lots worse in the bill that repealing the Cadillac Tax (e.g. paid “maternity” leave for both spouses). But it seems to have been the Democrat’s price to have a Defense bill.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  42. We need a major political party that can find a way to deliver adequate services for an amount of money that approximates government revenue. Why is this regarded as a radical idea?

    There is always an unmet need.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  43. Blaming McCain for saving Obamacare is intellectually dishonest.

    I don’t think JVW is intellectually dishonest. But I think he has bought into that narrative too eagerly.

    It is very convenient, in certain disreputable quarters of the Right (if you know what I mean, and I think you do), to have a scapegoat for Trump’s utter failure to deliver on one of his major campaign promises. And even better, a scapegoat who can’t defend himself.

    Remember, Trump *didn’t* promise to repeal Obamacare; he promised he would replace it with something that covered more people, with better coverage, and for “a tiny fraction of the cost” (his exact words). No such plan was ever forthcoming, however. It almost seems like Trump was lying through his teeth when he promised that.

    Dave (1bb933)

  44. Kamikaze Juan – more than just crashing and burning American soldiers. He then came after the voter. sic mofo kamikaze juan

    mg (8cbc69)

  45. Gabbard/mittens/2020
    Start the impeachment now.

    mg (8cbc69)

  46. How can you blame McCain for not repealing obamacare? All he did was vote to keep it. After promising to repeal it.

    After all, he was a man of principle.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  47. People forget that McCain not only voted with the D’s to keep Obamacare, he provided cover for several other RINO’s to kill the repeal. And we can all remember his smirk when he gave the repeal a thumbs down.

    It seems that Ol’Johnny McCain had told everyone he was in favor of repeal or “Leaning that way”. So, everyone was surprised at his vote. At no time, did he tell McConnell is could only support the repeal if they did [fill in the blank]. And he’d already voted for repeal in 2015.

    But then he was up for election. “Just repeal the dang healthcare”.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  48. 16-year old girls and dead men. Yeah, that’s about the size of the Trumpfoddil wheelhouse, and even with those “enemies” all they can do is whine and whimper like kicked dogs. Anybody tougher, foreign or domestic, sends them rushing to change their diapers.

    nk (dbc370)

  49. 16-year old girls and dead men

    And widows. Don’t forget widows.

    Dave (1bb933)

  50. And we can all remember his smirk when he gave the repeal a thumbs down.

    In your imagination, perhaps. Here in the real world, there was no smirk.

    At no time, did he tell McConnell is could only support the repeal if they did [fill in the blank].

    Wow, that is amazing that you know the content of every conversation that took place between McCain and McConnell.

    Once again, the fact is:

    McCain voted for repeal twice in 2017. He came from his sickbed in Arizona to cast a vote to proceed with consideration of it.

    The bill he voted “thumbs down” on was a shell that repealed as much of Obamacare as possible within the constraints of reconciliation, but made no provision for how to clean up the mess that would have ensued. It was understood to be a gimmick to kick the can back to the House, but if the House had passed it “as is”, it would not have gone back to the Senate, and if Trump had signed it, it would have created great dislocation.

    Obama and the Democrats were (rightly) criticized for not thinking through the original plan and creating a huge mess, and McCain (rightly) wouldn’t go along with the same kind of recklessness and irresponsibility when the GOP was flirting with the it.

    Dave (1bb933)

  51. Remember, Trump *didn’t* promise to repeal Obamacare; he promised he would replace it with something that covered more people, with better coverage, and for “a tiny fraction of the cost”

    Trump is nothing if not hyperbole. If you don’t have your hyperbole filters on when you hear him, you will miss what sense is present.

    The Ryan plan would have covered more people, at less cost, with better coverage. Particularly self-employed people over 40-ish, the point at which the income-based subsidy cut-offs started interacting badly with age-based premiums. In their 60s, a couple could find they were in a $10K-wide welfare trap. Ryan’s plan fixed this, pretty much as Trump suggested.

    But no, the HFC insisted on complete repeal, to screw over all those REPUBLCIAN tax-payers who were screwed over by Obamacare in the first place.

    I note that this blog now dislikes the HFC, but it did not do so then.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  52. Shorter: Repeal was politically impossible. Fixing gross malfunction was not. They did neither.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  53. For somebody who was going to free us from Deep State:

    In the bizarre way that the United States government works, the Senate passed a bill on Tuesday, tucked into the budget of the National Defense Authorization Act (authorizing a new Space Force branch of the Armed Services), providing all federal workers with 12 weeks of paid parental leave for the first time in American history.
    The bill, which was lightly covered in the media due to the impeachment hearings, will offer all federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave—coinciding with the birth, adoption or fostering of a child.[Got to think of same-sex “parents”, too, you know.] First passed by Congress and this week’s vote in the Senate, the bill will now be brought before President Donald Trump to sign. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2019/12/19/in-a-historic-bill-federal-workers-will-receive-12-weeks-of-paid-parental-leave/#400a5bff2290

    Will the Grand Moff Trumpkin be eligible every time he clones a new batch of Storm Troopers, I wonder?

    nk (dbc370)

  54. The HFC was not fully Trumpaic until the shooting incident, it could have been goaded on as much by Trump loyalists as it could have been by Durbin/Duckworth as a certain former poster was keen on stating, if only to scare the HFC into full compliance.

    urbanleftbehind (e5684c)

  55. I’m always surprised that people are so ignorant of the politics of healthcare. “Cadillac plans” are very popular with unions. While the union plans have mostly survived due to questionable exemptions, this is an easy way to curry favor with union workers who worry about their super-good health plans. No real economic sense in the move but lots of good politics.

    Mcallen3 (b900ea)

  56. 51. What was the Ryan plan and what year was it proposed?

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)

  57. 43. Dave (1bb933) — 12/21/2019 @ 2:10 am

    Remember, Trump *didn’t* promise to repeal Obamacare; he promised he would replace it with something that covered more people, with better coverage, and for “a tiny fraction of the cost” (his exact words). No such plan was ever forthcoming, however. It almost seems like Trump was lying through his teeth when he promised that.

    Unconcerned about any obligation to fulfill it, and he didn’t have any idea how (unlike the case with judges where he cold name a list of possible nominees to the aUnited states supreme Court and otherwise delegate that to Don McGahn.

    At one point he said, to his surprise, that his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, would be responsible for coming up with a plan to replace Obamacare. He was a physician who had chaired the House Committee on the Budget, the Republican Study Committee and the Republican Policy Committee and he’d put himself forward as some kind of an expert on health care financing and had sponsored a bill in 2015. But he had no idea how to alter the law in a way that fulfilled all the campaign promises any more than anybody else did (or maybe didn’t want to propose something that would have some big losers)

    At another point Trump said he was surprised that health care policy was so complicated (words to the effect)

    https://www.cnn.com/2017/02/27/politics/trump-health-care-complicated/index.html

    Trump: ‘Nobody knew health care could be so complicated’

    By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

    Updated 4:10 AM ET, Tue February 28, 2017
    Trump ramps up pledge to undo Obamacare

    He was barely past a month into his presidency at that point.

    He claimed that he’d come up with “a solution that’s really, really I think very good”

    I don’t think he ever finished it.

    Since that time he has contented himself with his appointees taking potshots at Obamacare provisions – never mind what would be the result if he got his way.

    The only (significant?) things that have changed, according to NPR, are:

    https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/10/14/768731628/trump-is-trying-hard-to-thwart-obamacare-hows-that-going

    1. The individual mandate has been eliminated (as of the 2019 tax year) Now the Trump administration has sided with a lawsuit that claimed that repealed the whole law. But there’s a difference from a court striking out a provision and Congress doing that. If a court does it you can have arguments about severability. If Congress does it, even if it creates an unworkable law, that’s the law.

    2. Cost-sharing reduction subsidies to insurers have ended- and they sued.

    3. Access to short-term “skinny” plans has been expanded

    4. States (potentially) allowed to add “work requirements” to Medicaid

    5. Funds to facilitate HealthCare.gov sign-ups was slashed.

    Now we can add permanent repeal of various Obamacare taxes.

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)


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