Ryan Care taught me one thing…

The collapse of Ryan Care was probably the first big failure of the young Trump administration (not counting the tweets-4D chess and all that). And to that, as on many things, I’m of two minds.  For all of its flaws, being able to block grant Medicaid funds to the states and capping its growth would be a major victory; a major reform of a major entitlement program.  Just that would have been a major administration accomplishment.

On the other hand…the bill was seriously flawed in virtually every other way and didn’t meet the President’s goal of providing coverage for everyone.  And even worse than the flaws of the bill, it revealed how amateurish the Republican House was.  It was like they had not even considered the idea of writing a health care bill until a few weeks ago.  And when they did, they repeated every bad Democratic mistake in doing it by keeping the bill writing secret to exclude… not Democrats but the real enemy; other Republicans.  And in fact, it was Republicans that ultimately killed their own reform plan.  Democrats just had to sit by and eat popcorn.

This of course, is yet another example of why the GOP has the amply deserved moniker of the stupid party.  Democrats usually have a handy bill just sitting on the hard drive of Democratic Congressional servers just waiting for a crisis.  You know, so they cannot waste it.  School shooting?  Just hit print and run out to the House floor waving a fully written Gun Control bill, “for the children.”

With Republicans, after passing multiple repeal bills during the Obama years, including having a full replacement bill in committee in 2013, the Options Act, suddenly became the proverbial deer in the headlights; “Wait we won?  That wasn’t supposed to happen!”

So after thinking that the GOP had at least a draft of a consensus plan tucked away waiting for its own opportunity, it soon became obvious that there had probably been not a single meeting or discussion on it until recently.  So after crafting a bill in secret with zero input from any effected groups, it turned out there was no constituency for the bill.  Even the late lamented Options Act had buy in from several conservative think tanks, and Tea Party groups.  No conservative groups even had a peek at it until it was unveiled.

Sorry, but that’s not how you do things.

But…none of that was the “one thing” that Ryan Care taught me.

Have you ever noticed that you never hear the left clamoring for Medicaid for all? Since Medicaid has no premiums, co pays, or deductibles, it’s truly free healthcare (from the consumer point of view). Meanwhile regular Medicare has an 80/20 cost share. Medicaid has lower provider reimbursement rates than Medicare so in theory it should be cheaper. Why shouldn’t the left/liberals/Democrats like Medicaid as the basis of a national healthcare plan over Medicare?

The other day I was on a forum discussing the late, unlamented Ryan plan, and how it weans off Medicaid funds to the states with a different formula over the years. Some left leaning poster complained that means the states would have to raise taxes to make up the difference!  Well duh, but if you’re liberal, shouldn’t that be a feature rather than a bug?  Don’t those guys love taxes, the higher the better?  How could increasing taxes be a flaw in a health care reform plan if you’re liberal?

Epiphany time. Unlike Medicare, which is fully federally funded, states have to pitch in for the cost (not counting the expanded Obamacare version) for Medicaid. Medicare, or any fully federal plan is paid for by deficit spending, so no one is really paying for it (yet) but the states have to tax real money to pay for things like expanding healthcare for people in their own state.  That’s why even the bluest states don’t have their own universal healthcare plans. Vermont tried to do it and spent three years trying to make it work before abandoning it because of taxes.  California is attempting to do it now, and the lessons of its attempt on this regard will be instructive.  I’m not sure any state can afford both a 50 billion dollar bullet train to nowhere and single payer health insurance.

So the lesson?  That’s how you defang the left: Make them pay for it.  A Balanced Budget Amendment would do more to rein in the Democratic Party than any comparative cluster of policy reforms that will be undone by the next Democratic administration.  The basic tools in the Congress and in statehouses across the country are all there to make it happen. Democrats love the rhetoric of raising taxes on the rich but the reality is that the rich are much of their constituency, and it’s not clear how far that constituency is willing to go if every single thing the Democrats want they had to pay for up front.

I’d like to find out.

No Secret Trump Vote

On more than one occasion lately, Rush Limbaugh has been hanging on to the rather thin reed that never mind the polls, there may be a group of secret Trump voters out there who haven’t voted, are not being polled, and may pull through a surprise Brexit like victory for Trump in November.  This is based on a comment that Washington Post Reporter Robert Costa made on the Charlie Rose Show about this alleged hidden Trump vote:

It’s wider than any party.  I mean, it includes some Bernie Sanders supporters. It includes some libertarians.  The most important voter in this movement, uh, when I travel around the country, is the previously disengaged voter.  They’re almost a nonpartisan voter, but they’ve given up not just on the political process, but they’ve disengaged from civic society. They don’t really follow politics. If that’s a real coherent voting block, then Trump — regardless of the polls — will have a shot in November — and regardless of all the mistakes — because that’s a huge block.  There’s so much of this country that rarely, if ever, votes, and if — for some reason — they come to the polls in droves, that changes everything.”

That seems to make sense.  The primaries saw a surge of Republican registration and the largest number of Republican primary voters ever.  So who knows, could there be a group of maybe working class types who dropped out of politics out of disgust years ago but now are raring to go for Trump?  Nobody knows about them because they haven’t been voting, so they have not been polled.  They’re just out there waiting for the moment…

But I think we’ve had enough elections since then to test that proposition and to me, it seems to come up wanting.

Paul Ryan’s Wisconsin primary challenger Paul Nehlen, a pro Trump activist, was easily beaten by Ryan by an astonishing 84% of the vote.

In Arizona John McCain beat challenger Kelli Ward 55% to 35% in spite of Ward linking herself to Trump.

And in Florida, “Little Marco” Rubio, a long time Trump nemesis, beat pro Trump businessman Carlos Beruff 72% to 18%, in spite of joining the race late and being markedly unenthusiastic about returning to the Senate, so much so that he couldn’t even promise to stay for a full 6 year term.  Beruff put himself squarely in the Trump corner. Interestingly, the Republican Senate primary race had 3 Hispanics and 1 African American; no WASPs to be seen.

But the point is that if there was a secret Trump vote, there was ample opportunity for them to show and support the candidates who were counting on Trump coattails to win their races.

They didn’t show, so it’s possible they don’t exist.

 

 

 

Romney goes all in with Ryan

This was not the Vice Presidential pick I was expecting.  I was going along with the conventional wisdom on this one and assuming either Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty.  Usually, you almost always can count on going wrong when relying on the conventional wisdom, but Mitt Romney seems like a conventional wisdom kind of guy, so the safe guesses seemed likely to me.  So I was surprised when I heard on the news that Paul Ryan was Romney’s VP pick.

In general terms, Ryan is a good pick.  He’s bright; in fact, bright enough that the average IQ of the House of Representatives will drop a good deal when he leaves. He can also present his arguments clearly and concisely.  One of my favorite all time political video clips is the Obamacare Health Summit, in which Ryan demolished the fiscal rationale behind the Obamacare CBO report in a few minutes, with a scowling Obama looking on.

Ryan was right on Obamacare, but it still passed.

And that’s the problem with the Ryan pick.  The President’s campaign strategy for this year has been to avoid economic issues and engage in personal attacks and demagoguery.  That’s the purpose of the various “war on…” ads.  2010’s “Throw Granny off a Cliff,” featuring a Ryan look alike rolling a wheelchair bound grandmother type off the edge of a cliff, is a harbinger of the type of campaign we can expect from the Obama administration.  When Democrats portray Republicans, they are usually shown as either stupid or evil, depending on what they think fits better.  With Ryan, it’s clearly going to be evil.  Will we see ads portraying Ryan as a blade welding, hockey mask wearing killer, slicing and dicing the elderly in rest homes?  Don’t laugh; after throwing granny off a cliff, will Ryan stop at nothing?

Ryan doesn’t really bring the key battleground States, like Portman (Ohio) or Rubio (Florida) would.  Romney is going for an ideological and ideas pick.  With Ryan, he’s showing that the thrust of his administration is going to be to get our fiscal house in order.  That’s a great thing and a vital one, but it plays into the Obama administration’s yearlong campaign strategy.  The White House is probably popping the corks on the bottles of champagne.  If you’re running a campaign based on demagoguery, you couldn’t have hoped for better than a Ryan pick.

Just like on Obamacare, Ryan is right on our budgetary and fiscal issues, but as Obamacare shows, being right doesn’t mean you will win the votes.

Looking at the race in the beginning of the year, I figured it would be Obama winning in a squeaker.  Months later, with the Ryan pick, I still lean that way.  But at least the battle grounds are clearly drawn, and we know what the race is about: saving our country from fiscal chaos and trying to restore the nation, or stripping the treasury of every dollar and eating our seed corn; eat, drink, and be merry, because tomorrow we may be a third rate, ruined power.  I think if the American people are given that clear choice, they’ll make the right decision.  The problem is, the few undecided voters will be viewing the race through the lens of the big three network nightly news programs, and they are all three firmly on Team Obama.

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