When All Else Fails, They Lie

The Republicans are determined to pass some form of health care bill by the end of this week when the time runs out to pass it with 51 votes. In a desperate move to get the needed votes from two of the three hold outs, Senators Lisa Murkowsky (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME), revisions were made over the weekend. When all else fails, resort to bribery and lies, a clear sign the Republican leadership has run out of options.

The revised version of the bill, written by Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, would provide extra money for an unnamed “high-spending low-density state,” a last-minute change seemingly aimed at Alaska and its holdout Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski, who has yet to say how she will vote. It would also send money toward Maine, whose Republican senator, Susan Collins, had said earlier on Sunday that she would almost certainly vote no.

Mr. Cassidy circulated a table on Sunday showing the state-by-state impact of the revised bill from 2020 to 2026. It indicated that Alaska would receive 3 percent more money under the bill than under current law, while Maine would get 43 percent more.

However, the numbers and the calculations could not be independently confirmed. Similar estimates prepared by Mr. Cassidy’s office for the earlier version of the bill differed significantly from estimates by the Kaiser Family Foundation and health policy consulting firms, which said that most states would receive less money than under current law.

The basic premise of the bill still remains and it is horrendous:

The health bill’s authors scrambled to get back on track. The revised version of the Graham-Cassidy bill is generally similar to the original version unveiled on Sept. 13.

But it now would allow states to set many of their own health insurance standards without getting waivers from the federal government. States could, for example, allow insurers to omit some of the benefits they are now required to provide, like coverage for maternity care, mental health care and drug addiction treatment.

Under the revised bill, states could set their own limits on out-of-pocket costs that differ from the federal limits. Under the Affordable Care Act, the annual limits are now $7,150 for an individual health plan and $14,300 for a family plan.

The new version of the bill would give decision-making authority to the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, now Seema Verma. The initial version gave the authority to the secretary of health and human services, Tom Price.

Under the revised bill, it appears that a state could allow insurers to set higher premiums based on a person’s health status, though not on the basis of sex or genetic information. In applying for federal grants, state officials would have to describe how they would “maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

The Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act has long ago lost the premise that it had anything to do with helping Americans get affordable health care coverage.They had promised their base and big donors they would repeal “Obamacare” and have no idea how to do it because of all the lies they have told. They spent the weekend making the rounds of talk shows lying about this bill and are finally getting called out by even FOX News

Paul Krugman, in his column today, noted that Republicans have lied so much over the last eight years about policies that won’t work they are now trapped by their own lies and it doesn’t stop with health care.

The next big item on the G.O.P. agenda is taxes. Now, cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy may be an easier political lift than taking health insurance away from 30 million Americans. But Republicans still have a problem, because they’ve spent years posing as the party of fiscal responsibility, and they have no idea how to cut taxes without blowing up the deficit.

As with health care, the party has masked its lack of good ideas with lies, claiming that it would offset lower tax rates and even reduce the deficit by eliminating unnamed loopholes and slashing unnamed wasteful spending. But as with health care, these lies will be revealed once actual legislation is unveiled. It’s telling that Republicans are already invoking voodoo economics to justify their as-yet-unspecified tax plans, insisting that tax cuts will pay for themselves by leading to higher economic growth.

At this point, however, few people believe them. The Bush tax cuts didn’t create a boom; neither did the Kansas tax-cut “experiment.” Conversely, the U.S. economy did fine after the 2013 Obama tax hike, as has the California economy since Jerry Brown raised state taxes. Party apparatchiks will no doubt engage in an orgy of Reaganolatry, but the broader public probably won’t be moved by (false) claims about the wondrous results of tax cuts 36 years ago.

So tax policy, like health care, will be hobbled by a legacy of lies.

Wait, there’s more.

Foreign policy isn’t usually a central concern for voters. Still, past lies have put the Trump administration in a box over things like the Iran nuclear deal: Canceling the deal would create huge problems, yet not canceling it would amount to an admission that the criticisms were dishonest.

And soon the G.O.P. may even start to pay a price for lying about climate change. As hurricanes get ever more severe — just as climate scientists predicted — climate denial is looking increasingly out of touch. Yet donors and the base would react with fury to any admission that the threat is real, after all.

The bottom line is that the bill for cynicism seems to be coming due. For years, flat-out lies about policy served Republicans well, helping them win back control of Congress and, eventually, the White House. But those same lies now leave them unable to govern.

Will the lies finally be the undoing of the Republican Party’s hold on congress and real progress? Saty tuned.