This bull elephant charged our jeep in a game preserve the other day and it brought me right back to the scene at home. It is very hard and embarrassing to be an American abroad at the moment. Everyone, from taxi drivers to university professors and fellow travelers, is aghast and scared about what is going on in the US. We sometimes forget that millions of people around the world hold the US as the beacon for their own aspirations for a safer more just world. Older travelers we are meeting recall the slide into Nazism in the 30’s and wonder, like me, if the relentless attacks on the press are the fore runner of real danger. The speech last night is not likely to change the view.
The GOP bull charge to attack Obamacare seems, from afar, as determined and confused as ever. The Republicans’ worst fear is coming true: 20 million newly insured people want to keep what they now have. It is no surprise that popular support is increasing as repeal is possible. The Washington Republican Party has loved Block Grants for decades. They have always seen them as a way to limit Federal expenses and shift accountability and cost to the States—which were often controlled by Democrats. Now that Republicans control so many States where people will be hurt significant pressure against the scheme is emerging. The National Governors’ meeting over the weekend must have been fun.
The Congressional Republicans are desperate to find long term budget “savings” to finance their tax cuts. That is why health care repeal must precede tax reform. The emerging response seems to be some short term moves to placate Republican Governors by leaving currently insured Medicaid people alone while cutting off new access. They also want to reward Republican controlled States that resisted expanding Medicaid by sending some new short term money to them. The Ryan team is clearly betting on the potential for long term savings for the Federal government. The analyses from the Congressional Budget Office that most of what Ryan and his team have proposed will hurt millions of people without saving any money cause them real trouble. If the Congressional Budget Office won’t play along by saying the “replace” schemes will save big money some Republicans may wonder why they should vote to hurt people and take the heat. In any event, they might not be in such a hurry.
It was a delight to see in the morning news yesterday that Trump said something about health care being really complicated. Duh??? His speech was short on details but if he really plans to leave Social Security and Medicare alone while cutting all other domestic programs he is protecting the old and the generals by starving the young. There must be at least a few Republicans in Congress who will find that a leap too far. We will soon find out as Congress reaches deadlines for voting on appropriations.