Fancy words, I know. I just mean that leading Democrats–from Schumer and Pelosi on down–ought to get more realistic about what their likely voters are really like. Their likely voters, contrary to some Democrats’ pleasantly self-flattering availability heuristics, are not necessarily very well-informed about the details of government policy, or federal agency regulations, or the subtleties of Chevron deference. Also, Trump lies, but not as many people care about that as Democrats would like to think. Democrats, to win the midterms, must transmit cues to voters that are easily understandable and emotionally compelling–healthcare sabotage by Trump; the threat to pre-existing conditions coverage; the threat to women’s access to birth control as well as abortion; the crushing burdens of our new Gilded Age, especially the social insecurity. Trump boosters love to say “promises kept,” but Democrats need to counter that by saying over and over that wage growth is stagnant, that regular people are bearing heavier burdens while the 1% and fake corporate people are living high on the hog, and most of all, that Republican cruelty and harshness is not a natural law but a deliberate choice Trump’s party has made because Trump could not care less about working Americans. Seventy-eight foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago is not America first. Tolerating Wilbur Ross’s insider trading is not draining the swamp. The swamp creatures in Trump’s cabinet. The see-no-evil denials of sexual abuse by people like Jim Jordan. And the danger of an out-of-control president who has no clue about what has made America great and no respect or feeling for freedom. Democrats must not assume that people have leisure time to keep up with complicated story lines. Motivating those who already despise Trump and will crawl over glass to vote Democratic this November–that’s already baked in, but it’s not enough to win. Democratic politicians who really want to put a check on Trump’s power must stop flattering themselves that “their” voters are more informed and can’t be fooled by Trump. The millions of disaffected, jaded, harried, troubled, people who may or may not bother to vote need to hear short and sweet messages, over and over. They need to hear that Republicans are not doing squat to protect the forgotten men and women, and on the positive side that Democrats will defend economic opportunities for young people, healthcare security for everyone, and American freedoms against anybody who thinks that they are king.
I would love to associate myself with Donald Trump’s totally true remark today that “there are a lot of good reasons” to eliminate the debt ceiling. Convenient? Of course. Hypocritical? Hmm, let’s take a look: 2011 Trump said “the debt limit cannot be raised until Obama spending is contained.” “TIME TO CUT, CAP, AND BALANCE.” “There is no revenue problem.” 2012 Trump: “the Republicans once again hold all the cards with the debt ceiling. They can get everything they want. Focus!”
Donald Trump has zero reason to regret or retract anything, ever. Chuck and Nancy will confirm that if you ask them.
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.