The latest poll, by USA Today and Suffolk University, found only 12 percent of Americans support the Republican health care bill. This confirms what other recent polls have shown: the GOP health care “reform” plan is the most unpopular legislation ever.
The low level of support for the GOP proposal for “repealing and replacing” Obamacare is good news. Republicans have been astonishingly successful in recent years in deceiving great swaths of the U.S. population, from selling the Iraq War with disinformation to the selling of Donald Trump as a “working class billionaire.” The numbers show that this time it didn’t work. And the really good news is that support for the newest version of the legislation is sinking, both among the public and in the Senate.
Several earlier polls had found support for the legislation at around 16-17 percent. That’s pathetic enough. It means that fewer than one in five people favored the GOP legislation then. Now, the number from the latest poll (12 percent) puts support closer to one in ten. That’s beyond pathetic—it’s historic. No legislation has had such a low level of support in the history of polling. No wonder every day more and more Republicans in the Senate—where the GOP needs every Republican vote—are coming out in opposition to the bill. If the vote were held today, Republicans would lose on their single most important priority, the issue they used for eight years to bash the previous administration: Obamacare.
This all good news because the bill the Republicans are marketing as “health care reform”—and succeeding in getting most of the media to use that misleading label—is in fact a counter-reform. While Obamacare increased the percentage of the population with health insurance, this legislation would do the reverse. The best estimate is that 22 million people who are now insured would lose their coverage and join the ranks of the uninsured if this bill becomes law. Reform? More like the opposite, a big step backward for American society and an existential threat for millions of people.
The overwhelming public rejection of the GOP proposal shows that even a whole club of snake-oil salesmen, in other words the Republican party of 2017, can lie and mislead effectively enough to convince people that it is a good idea to take billions of dollars out of health care for people who need it and couldn’t afford it before Obamacare and put it in the pockets of the richest people in the country.
Republicans often have succeeded in getting most Americans to go along with bad ideas, like the Iraq war, which early on had huge public support before “facts on the ground” radically changed that. You know it is a really, really bad idea when even excellent hucksters like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell can’t sell it. Beside the current health care legislation, a second wildly unsuccessful GOP initiative on a major issue comes to mind: George W. Bush’s effort to partially privatize Social Security. That was another really, really bad idea, and support for it soared like a lead balloon.
But the Republicans in Congress have not given up yet on their latest and most outrageous Robin-Hood-in-reverse scheme. They are desperately trying to come up with something that will pass the Senate. It’s a tougher task than they anticipated. That’s mainly because there’s nothing that would satisfy the ideological zealotry of Republicans in Congress and at the same time be something the American people could support.
Although Obamacare has many flaws and limitations (mainly because it was the best bill that Obama and the Democrats could pass in the face of rabid Republican opposition), none of the schemes Republicans have proposed to replace it are better or fairer than Obamacare, and the public can see that. Otherwise, how to explain the fact that Obamacare today is polling better than ever? People have seen what the Republicans have on offer as an alternative and they have concluded that Obamacare is not that bad after all.
Given that—and the fact what the GOP is offering is bad policy, an inhumane and unfair policy driven by a dog-eat-dog ideology, Republicans could give up and join Democrats in fixing the remaining problems with Obamacare. They could even look at what has worked in every other rich country in the world—universal health care with the state as the single payer.
That would be the most reasonable outcome, yet it is an improbable one for that very reason. Reason is not part of the world view of Congressional Republicans in 2017. Nor is truth. Truth is what advances their ideology and their political power.
Even more, look for the money. The truth is that the main reason Republicans want to kill Obamacare is so they can defund Medicaid and use that money to relieve billionaires and millionaires of virtually any tax burden.
It’s an ignoble purpose, but, hey, it pays well.