Republicans, Cruelty, Healthcare and Paul Krugman


Usually in politics and political or social commentary, a certain amount of decorum (deserved or not) is maintained.  Rarely do we get down to the “raw truth” about a candidate, a policy, or a party.

Paul Krugman’s essay in the NYT from last month, however, minces no words.  The current health policy debate is about Republican cruelty.  No wonder people were ejected from the Senate chamber gallery for shouting “KILL THE BILL! DON’T KILL US!” That was not hyperbole.

For me, the Democratic party (in its finest moments) stands between the most vulnerable people in society and the wanton cruelty of unrestrained greed.  It also promises all Americans an opportunity to better their lives and the lives of their children.  Its basic promise is largely encapsulated in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms:  freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from free. [see my blog entry about the Four Freedoms at]

To me, the basic freedom the Republican Party seems committed to is freedom from government restraint for the rich as their greed destroys individuals, families, economies, and the environment.  Oh, they also believe in the “freedom” for the less fortunate to be pitched into the gutter as they fall through a “social safety net” in which Republicans want to make the holes ever larger and larger. Finally, they believe that anyone should be able to have any gun, any place they want, at any time.  For me, that pretty much sums up the core of Republicanism.

Dr. Krugman, it seems, basically shares my basic perspective.  But, he focuses on health care and puts it much more elegantly.  In something I don’t usually do, I provide a relatively lengthy segment of his essay for your edification.


Paul Krugman, June 30, NYT

Understanding Republican Cruelty

” The basics of Republican health legislation, which haven’t changed much in different iterations of Trumpcare, are easy to describe: Take health insurance away from tens of millions, make it much worse and far more expensive for millions more, and use the money thus saved to cut taxes on the wealthy.”


” Which brings me back to my question: Why would anyone want to do this?

I won’t pretend to have a full answer, but I think there are two big drivers — actually, two big lies — behind Republican cruelty on health care and beyond.

First, the evils of the G.O.P. plan are the flip side of the virtues of Obamacare. Because Republicans spent almost the entire Obama administration railing against the imaginary horrors of the Affordable Care Act — death panels! — repealing Obamacare was bound to be their first priority.

Once the prospect of repeal became real, however, Republicans had to face the fact that Obamacare, far from being the failure they portrayed, has done what it was supposed to do: It used higher taxes on the rich to pay for a vast expansion of health coverage. Correspondingly, trying to reverse the A.C.A. means taking away health care from people who desperately need it in order to cut taxes on the rich.

So one way to understand this ugly health plan is that Republicans, through their political opportunism and dishonesty, boxed themselves into a position that makes them seem cruel and immoral — because they are.

Yet that’s surely not the whole story, because Obamacare isn’t the only social insurance program that does great good yet faces incessant right-wing attack. Food stamps, unemployment insurance, disability benefits all get the same treatment. Why?

As with Obamacare, this story began with a politically convenient lie — the pretense, going all the way back to Ronald Reagan, that social safety net programs just reward lazy people who don’t want to work. And we all know which people in particular were supposed to be on the take.

Now, this was never true, and in an era of rising inequality and declining traditional industries, some of the biggest beneficiaries of these safety net programs are members of the Trump-supporting white working class. But the modern G.O.P. basically consists of career apparatchiks who live in an intellectual bubble, and those Reagan-era stereotypes still dominate their picture of struggling Americans.

Or to put it another way, Republicans start from a sort of baseline of cruelty toward the less fortunate, of hostility toward anything that protects families against catastrophe.

In this sense there’s nothing new about their health plan. What it does — punish the poor and working class, cut taxes on the rich — is what every major G.O.P. policy proposal does. The only difference is that this time it’s all out in the open.”


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