Republicans Glowing Over Glorious Repeal Victory–Glowing In The Dark, That Is

Hat tip to Nancy Pelosi for naming the fate of Republicans who voted to trash, not repair, Obamacare today.  Now it is up to friends of actual affordable healthcare for Americans to reject rightwing “framing” and “narratives” and tell the American people plainly what just happened.  Republicans voted for this bill without any clear idea of its cost, without any budget estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, but when those numbers are released the ugly realities will become clearer.  “Framing” or no framing the nasty impact of this bill, if it becomes law, will hit many millions of citizens who have benefited from coverage through the Affordable Care Act, and many more millions of their family and friends.

Regarding the “freedom” Paul Ryan and his fellow zombies say we are about to enjoy, I would ask them to let go of their childish libertarian dreams and acknowledge that they are leaders of a government that got involved in the provision of health insurance because the human toll of destitution and premature death became unacceptable.

Of course there are sometimes tradeoffs between security and liberty.  In the case of health, however, most people experience health, security, and freedom as mutually reinforcing.  There is a loss of freedom, perhaps, if you are forced to acknowledge that you are part of a giant risk pool when you feel fine, or that you may face a day when, if you opt out of acknowledging your membership in that risk pool otherwise known as “society,” you are going to need healthcare at any price right now, and you might not have $150,000 on hand.  Oh, well, that’ll surely never happen.

Healthcare is not a “good” that can be subjected to simple free-market logic without causing massive unnecessary suffering, partly because the market for healthcare does not and cannot operate with the benefit of an essential precondition of efficient Pareto-optimal “perfect competition,” which is “perfect information.”  Perfect information is sometimes almost the opposite of how the healthcare market works.  Think of the market for used cars.  Think of all the very imperfect information,  not to say unrepentant lying, that occur during the sale of a used car.  Now think of yourself as a used car and of trying to “sell” yourself to an insurance company.  You tell them that you have very low mileage, excellent maintenance record, and all kinds of fibs.  They squint at you and want you to pay more than you can afford.  Depressing scenario, isn’t it?  But it gives some idea of what the rightwing framers and narrative-spinners are going to be up against and why the majority of Americans, if polls be believed, are feeling warmer and warmer about Obamacare as they realize their safety net or plan B, or maybe just plan C, could actually be taken away.

Now it is time for Democrats and others sickened by the new regime to make those who voted to mess with the Affordable Care Act pay the price and glow in the dark next year.

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Paul Ryan Announces Dates For 2017 Freedom And Carnage Tour

Speaker Paul Ryan, in the wake of his announcement that he will give us freedom by abolishing Obamacare and replacing it with freedom, all freedom all the time, has announced his Summer 2017 Freedom and Carnage tour schedule.  See his twitter feed for details, but the gist of it is, if he takes away your healthcare coverage, shut your mouth and be grateful for all the freedom you have to “access” the free market of medical services.  You are free to enter into a voluntary transactions with any and all providers of care.  You and only you have the freedom to negotiate with Humana or Aetna or Kaiser and don’t be a begrudger about it because you are just as free and big and powerful as your corporate negotiating counterparty.  You are also free to ignore the carnage by plugging your ears and shutting your eyes and pretending the protesters you see are all zombies paid by George Soros and French socialists.  You are free to enjoy the “deconstruction of the administrative state” because you know that they are going after those other elite people, they are not coming for you.

Now’s The Time To Seize The Moral High Ground On Liberty And Freedom

Democrats have seized quite a lot of moral high ground this year. But they could set a higher bar for themselves in the home stretch. This year is an unusually opportune moment to seize back the high ground from Republicans on liberty and freedom. The GOP has owned this issue for too long, and this year’s Republican presidential nominee does not show any sign of caring a fig for freedom–on the contrary, “I alone can fix it.” So much for limited government and ordered liberty!

Khizr Khan’s speech at the Democratic convention this summer, for example, was all about ordered liberty, but the freedom theme got submerged (for both pro-Hillary and pro-Trump people) in the back-and-forth about whether or not he should or shouldn’t be immune from criticism because Mr. Khan and his wife are Gold Star parents. There is a strong case that Trump was a fool, politically, to attack the Khans, but the substance of Mr. Khan’s message in defense of constitutional freedoms could and should be lifted up more by Democrats.

Democrats could and should say more about freedom as equal opportunity, equal economic opportunity, as described by FDR in his “Second Bill of Rights” speech of 1944. The freedom to be left alone is part of freedom, but not all of it by any means. Most of us are not living on the open range, however powerful the fantasy may be. Most of us really do not want government to mess with our Social Security and Medicare benefits–which nobody has a right to look down on as “entitlements” when we spent decades paying in.  Allowing Paul Ryan or the so-called Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget to get away with entitlement-shaming is political malpractice, not to mention wrong.

This year is a golden opportunity to reframe and reimagine freedom in ways that actually reflect our experience now. Not sure how many undecided voters are really left (or needed) in this year’s presidential election, but seizing the high ground on freedom will have far-reaching, long-lasting positive effects. As FDR said, “necessitous men are not free.” Lifting up that theme is the royal road to reaching swing voters–and beyond.

How Strong Can Trump Be If He Needs Putin’s Help To Beat Hillary?

Not strong at all. I thought it was a sign of weakness and derangement when Trump disrespected John McCain for becoming a war prisoner. I expected stronger pushback from actual conservative Republicans running against him over Trump’s ignorance of the Constitution and complete lack of interest in liberty or freedom or limited government. That was then. Now Trump has gone full “Siberian candidate,” (hat tip Paul Krugman) and Hillary Clinton is the only obstacle left to a Trump presidency. There are no Republican elites with enough national constituency or credibility to oppose Trump. That leaves the donor class and the owners of Fox, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, the AP and NYT to get over their bothsiderism and show some news judgment about where the threat to democracy lies.