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Paul Krugman: Republicans Are On The Brink Of Completing A Long, Deadly Con

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Paul Krugman: Republicans Are On The Brink Of Completing A Long, Deadly Con


Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

It was supposed to die in the House of Representatives. As recently as June, pundits were pronouncing the Senate’s health care legislation dead in the water. But this week Mitch McConnell unveiled a revised version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, and incredibly, Democrats lack a third Republican vote to kill the bill. Even more remarkable is that the newest BCRA is even more monstrous than the last.

For Paul Krugman, “it’s surpassingly ugly, intellectually and morally.” On Thursday, the New York Times columnist called Republicans’ efforts to roll back some of the savage Medicaid cuts a “scam.” That’s because McConnell’s health care legislation dictates tax-favored health savings accounts pay insurance premiums. This would not only enable the rich to set up huge tax shelters, but subject them to marginal tax rates, providing obscene savings.

“This is still a bill that takes from the poor,” Krugman writes, “It just does so with extra stealth.”

As if that weren’t enough, Trumpcare would effectively decimate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The new BCRA includes a Cruz amendment enabling insurers to offer skeleton health care plans with huge deductibles. Even industry insiders believe Republicans are flirting with disaster. America’s Health Insurance Plans, a national political advocacy and trade association with approximately 1,300 members, warns the amendment would “fracture and segment insurance markets into separate risk pools,” causing “unstable health insurance markets.” In layman’s terms, it would kick off the dreaded death spiral Republicans have been predicting for the Affordable Care Act since its passage in 2010.

It’s really very simple. If the GOP manages to pass its health care bill, millions of Americans will be deprived of insurance, while those who manage to keep theirs will pay considerably more for less. As Krugman sees it, this is what Republicans have wanted all along.

“Conservative ideology always denied the proposition that people are entitled to health care; the Republican elite considered and still considers people on Medicaid, in particular, ‘takers’ who are effectively stealing from the deserving rich,” he concludes. “So what we’re seeing here is supposed to be the last act in a long con, the moment when the fraudsters cash in, and their victims discover how completely they’ve been fooled.”

Read Paul Krugman’s column at the New York Times.

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.



  1. dpaano July 14, 2017

    What’s frustrating for me is that I’ve been told that as long as I am enrolled in Medicare (I’m only enrolled in Part A), that I can’t have an HSA account, so how does that help anyone to use an HSA account to pay for premiums unless you’re under the age of 65? I involuntarily had to sign up for at least Part A when I turned 65 even tho’ I was still working full time and had a excellent healthcare plan through my job. So, now the Republicans are saying that you can pay for premiums, etc., with an HSA, but those of us over 65 are SOL (sh…t out of luck, so to speak). I CAN have an FSA account; however, the downside is that if you don’t use all of it (although you paid the entire amount), it doesn’t roll over at the end of the year and you lose whatever you didn’t spend….which is total BS since it’s your money to begin with! Personally, I think that the congressmen and women should be required to get insurance just like they expect the rest of us to do! I noticed that they have excluded themselves from the new bill.

    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 14, 2017

      An excellent suggestion that political grifters and other DC careerists buy their own insurance.

      1. Eleanore Whitaker July 15, 2017

        Aaron…the problem today is what the problem was the minute the liars of Big Insurance got their syrupy mitts on Medicare. For Big Insurance, Medicare was nothing more than their pot of gold.

        How does any right winger or Republican dare explain why 20% insurance costs more than 80% and the 20% insurance ends up increasing in price every year?

        Until people go back to refusing to be scared out of their wits living without insurance as most of our parents did, we will be hostages of Big Insurance CEOs who never earn a dime less than $1 million a year. What the hell for?

        1. TZToronto July 17, 2017

          I think back to 1789. While I’m not suggesting tumbrils clattering through the streets of Washington, D.C., or the presence of a guillotine in front of the Capitol, I am suggesting that when you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose (my apologies, Bob Dylan). If anyone thinks that the political climate today is troublesome, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet (my apologies to Al Jolson).

          1. Eleanore Whitaker July 17, 2017

            I so agree. I cannot begin to imagine what courageous American is going to ever clean up the mess the Republicans have made of our country and our government.

            Back in the 6th grade in Catholic school, I came across a book on the then “Catholic banned books list” called, Cuba, Castro and Communism.” I don’t recall the author’s name. But, being a rebel even back then, I got hold of the book at our public library. From that point on, Russian history became regular reading.

            It appears that somewhere in Russian veins is the impetus to always fight as Genghis Khan did when he ruled all of what is today’s Russia and as far west as Spain. Over the eons of Russian history, one irrefutable fact remains, there is revolution in their blood. No matter what era you choose, you see this.

            However, modern day Russian men have felt like sloppy seconds globally, always missing the mark by just a few proverbial inches away from world domination.

            Putin as former KGB and Trump had much in common. Both believe by dividing, you conquer. Both believe that by playing “need to know with the masses” you hold automonous control. Both also believe that by using “any means necessary to achieve their goals, including lies, stealing, murdering and causing mass chaos, it’s possible to erode a nation like the US built upon democratic constitutional freedoms.

            Not to worry. If you know Russia history you know even that Svengali like Rasputin was murdered. I believe it was Prince Felix Yusupov, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, and the right-wing politician Vladimir Purishkevich concocted a plan to kill Rasputin in December 1916. In the end? They sliced off his penis and balls. The knife used is still in a Russian museum in Moscow. roflmao

      2. dpaano July 17, 2017

        They’ve already excluded themselves from the tenets of this new healthcare bill…..of course!

    2. Fatcatbanksters July 15, 2017

      You are over 65 and do not need private insurance as you have Medicare. Retire. Enjoy the little time you have left and open up a good job for someone younger. The clock is ticking. Do you really want to spend a minimum of one third of your remaining days at a job?

      1. Eleanore Whitaker July 15, 2017

        Shows what you know. I’m semi retired as a result of a boy genius who bankrupted our 34 year old company.

        You better how you never get old pallie. First of all for 44 years, my paychecks had both state and federal deductions for Medicare, Medicaid and SS. I paid for that. I want it.

        So, I retire and the first thing? SS is taxed. Medicare is deducted at a rate of $107 which covers ONLY 80% of hospital and medical care.

        Never let it be said the asses at Big Insurance don’t get to feast on that 20% we also pay which is nearly $300 a month for Part B only. If you want prescription drug coverage, that’s another $50 to $70 a month.

        By the time these come out of your SS which by the way you will get only a total of $15,000 a year to live on no matter how much you earned, you see why the Republican assholes want to increase the SS age of eligibility. They figure, “What the hell? They’ll drop dead before they get to collect what they paid half a century for and we get to keep it all for our campaigns.”

      2. dpaano July 15, 2017

        Yes, I love my job, work for a very pro-employee company, and am healthy enough to keep working. I’m only signed up for Part A of Medicare…don’t need more. But, because of this, I am ineligible to get an HSA account unfortunately. I could use it to save up for additional medical expenses after I do retire.

        1. Thornton July 17, 2017

          Chicka Boom! Chicka Boom! Don’t ya jest love it!……Yeah when folks tell you to get out and make room for others? Yeah….those incompetent dimwits who don’t know their @$$ from a hole in the ground, have no clue how to do their job and then want more than you were paid. Just look at the competency in our government workers. MORONS. When I call a governmental office I have to tell THEM how to do their job and what forms I need. IDIOTS. And just wait till the Republicans finish with THEIR health care program. THAT should be a laugh a minute.

          1. dpaano July 17, 2017

            Thornton: As I said before, many Trump voters don’t even realize that Obamacare AND the ACA are one and the same. They mistakenly think that if Obamacare is repealed, they’ll still be covered by the ACA. Boy, are they EVER in for a surprise! Should be interesting, don’t you think?

          2. Thornton July 17, 2017

            You got that right. GRIN! And one more thing. McCain had an operation the other day to remove a blood clot. I wonder how much THAT cost the American taxpayers? Did they rob Social Security again to pay for it? There went that ‘Large’ increase we are supposed to get. I swear. The Bull $H!T coming out of Washington you could fertilize the planet a hundred times over.

    3. johninPCFL July 19, 2017

      Any monies left in your HSA account when you turn 65 may be used to fulfill your Medicare costs. They are like a traditional IRA, and can’t be withdrawn without tax consequences, so pay the fees with them.

      1. dpaano July 20, 2017

        Yes, but in order to get that HSA account, I would have had to sign up for a health plan that had higher deductibles. It wasn’t worth it to me. I usually end up using all of my FSA account by the end of the year, and I put a set amount away in a separate personal savings account at my credit union….kinda like my own personal HSA account on top of my FSA account.

        1. johninPCFL July 20, 2017

          The only thing the HSA gets you on top of that is the pre-tax contribution, which was worth it to me. I never met the deductibles when they were low, and when I moved to a high-deductible policy I kept an empty Visa card to catch it. Then, just moved to monthly contribution to my HSA.

          I’ve hit my limits each of the last two years, but fortunately the lifetime caps are gone. I broke my back in February and the total hospital, surgery, outpatient therapy, etc. is closing in on $500,000. Thanks to ACA I’m not declaring bankruptcy.

  2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 14, 2017

    Along with the GOP’s Core Value of “Sanctity of Human Life”—Fetus only, mind you—they should add another Core Value of “Disregard for Human Health”.
    At the rate the GOP is moving backwards, the prospect of serious health issues across the nation will have reached epidemic proportions. Not just from some exotic contagions, but from lack of basic health care. The GOP, Trump, and the rest of this feeble-minded Administration, are on course to make America a 3rd World nation. A nation which may need assistance from Mexico, Cuba, and other Latin American countries. Maybe the detested “socialists” in Europe, and nations in Africa will be able to lend a hand.

    1. dtgraham July 14, 2017

      Now just a second my friend. Slow down there, godless socialist. The Republicans still stand by things like the March for Life, and their core value of…the sanctity of human life, which is precisely why they’re defunding the Childrens’ Health Insurance program.


      1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 14, 2017

        I’ll have to update my GOP “Core Values” list with an addendum to that Sanctity of Human Life value. The nerve of the “godless socialists” impugning the good name of our beloved GOP. I am beside myself with FOX/Cernovich fury. (Excuse me while I settle down).

      2. Eleanore Whitaker July 15, 2017

        Republican men are orgasmic morons who love to make babies. That’s where it ends for them. Then, to demonize single moms they helped create, they go around trying to stop women’s access to adequate gyn healthcare, abortion and contraception.

        But how dare women bitch if we don’t want to pay for their Medicare Viagra. And just what does some old geezer like Trump or some attack dog like Ryan need with Viagra?

        Republicans and responsibility? Have unicorn herds returned?

  3. dtgraham July 14, 2017

    Well, look at the bright side. After the Republicans get finished with taking away healthcare, destroying democracy, selling guns to terrorists, crushing LGBT human rights, throwing the elderly out of nursing homes, allowing Wall St to crash the economy again, and establishing an oligarch theocracy…at least ISIS will lose interest in that whole ‘death to America’ thing, as not being worth it anymore.

    Their attitude will be, “what’s left for us?” “We’re not doing better than that.” “Damn they’re good.”

    1. ORAXX July 15, 2017

      It does make you wonder just what our bloated military is defending.

      1. Eleanore Whitaker July 15, 2017

        I have two very close female friends who served in Iraq and 2 tours of duty in Afghanistan. I can tell you they are both saying the same thing: “We protect our country, not our president.”

        As they explained, when they enlisted they swore an oath similar to that of Senators and Congresspersons to uphold the US Constitution.

        Trump’s numerous violations of the US Constitution as so well elucidated by the GA Congressman Hank Johnson, is a stunning example of this wonderful GA gentleman’s ability to target the precise Constitutional violations Trump is guilty of. No surprise then that Congresswomen Maxine Waters and Bonnie Watson Coleman are teaming up to hold Trump’s feet to the fire.

        Trump already is being sued for encouraging Putin and his Russian hackers to “find Hillary’s 33,000 emails” and disclosed them, some of which contained highly personal information meant only for Hillary like medical and financial records of her campaign staff. Since when are the Republicans allowed to dig into medical records of campaign personnel?

        How about we dig into Trump’s medical records? Especially, the one where he was diagnosed with STDS from roaming the whorehouses all over Russia? He has more venearal diseases than Al Capone, which explains his frequent bouts of insanity.

  4. peregrinus July 14, 2017

    Even if this abomination of a bill does not pass, always remember the Republicans who even considered voting for it. Then vote them out.

  5. ORAXX July 15, 2017

    From the beginning of the debate over the ACA, the Republicans have never articulated a coherent argument explaining why millions of Americans are better off without meaningful healthcare. Neither have they explained why thousands of preventable deaths and bankruptcies annually constitutes acceptable public policy. The only healthcare outcome they care about is the bottom line of for-profit insurance companies. Trumpcare is a declaration of moral bankruptcy.

  6. Eleanore Whitaker July 15, 2017

    No one is fooled by the Republican white male impetus. They just think they have everyone fooled. What they don’t admit is a well known human behavioral trait known as survival of the fittest. Not survival of the richest. How many of the early 1900s Robber Barons committed suicide the minute the market crashed in ’29. Several in the top 10 ended up in prison like George “Jay” Gould.

    If the Republicans pass Trumpcare, you can count on one thing. They will never be able to walk out on public streets again in their lifetimes. Americans have a very unusual habit of taking Dodge City style revenge on anyone who kills their loved ones by denying them affordable healthcare.

    The Republican think they are smart asses protecting their own government healthcare taxpayers contribute to. Smart asses always trip themselves up and end up ruing the day they were born.

    Watch the red state vengeance. Because it will be the Republican states that will be hit hardest by lack of adequate healthcare and affordable healthcare insurance.

    Already the CBO is saying that Trump’s deficit is over $2 trillion. Why not? When his entire grifter family is traveling on taxpayer dollar and staying in 5 Star hotels?

  7. TZToronto July 17, 2017

    I live in Canada. Need I say more?


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