The real reason Republicans can’t answer simple questions about their health care bill

From Vox — Written by Ezra Klein — Image courtesy of Olivier Douliery – Pool/Getty Images

It’s worth asking why Republicans are lying about their version of a health care bill, why they can’t give a clear explanation as to what their bill does, why they’re jamming the legislation through a secretive, rushed process that even their own members are criticizing. Because there is a reason. And it is damning.

In 2009, Democrats had an easy answer to what the Affordable Care Act was meant to do: They wanted to cover more people and cut costs. They could give that answer because it was a basically popular position, and because it’s what their bill actually did, or at least tried to do.

In 2017, Republicans have a similarly easy answer for their bill: They want to cover fewer people and use the savings to fund tax cuts for the wealthy. That is what their legislation does. But they can’t give that answer because it’s a horribly unpopular position.

Democrats always believed the Affordable Care Act would be popular. They believed that even when polls said it wasn’t popular. They were certain that when Americans understood what was in the law — when they saw it would cover tens of millions of people, and regulate away the worst abuses of the insurance industry, and let children stay on their parents’ plans, and use Medicare to pilot a host of cost-control experiments — they would come around.

By contrast, Republicans have concluded the public will hate their bill if they know what’s in it, and so they are doing everything in their power to keep it a secret and move on from it as fast as possible.

The Senate of the legislation is being written by 13 Republican senators — all of them men — in secret. No one has seen a draft of it. No public hearings have happened, and none are scheduled. Republicans briefly considered banning cameras from the halls of the Senate so they couldn’t be asked about the bill on television. Various Senate Republicans have condemned the process — “The process is better if you do it in public, and that people get buy-in along the way and understand what’s going on,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told the New York Times — but they’re not forcing any changes to it. Though no bill exists for public viewing today, Mitch McConnell’s plan is to pass the legislation before July Fourth.

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