Littwin: Paul Ryan and the Trumpcare lesson in how to be honest about dishonesty

Let’s give Paul Ryan and his Trumpcare team a little credit. Sure, they’re trying to pull a fast one on us with the jury-rigged, sure-to-fail replacement for Obamacare.

But at least they’re being honest about it. In their way.

I mean, when you don’t have public hearings. And when the committee hearings you do have take place in the middle of the night. And when you write up the bill before the Ryan-appointed head of the Congressional Budget Office can even deliver a score on it — what it costs, what it will mean for the deficit and, most important, how many people will lose their insurance because of it — it’s all pretty clear.

They’re being as honest as possible about their dishonesty. They’re telling you up front that they have every intention of getting this thing out of the way before people even know why they should object to it. And so, when you have very conservative Sen. Tom Cotton telling the House to slow down and start over — tweeting: “Get it right, don’t get it fast” — the game is over, if you don’t count the fact that we’re still being played.

Look, there are many reasons to oppose Trumpcare. But there are even more reasons not to trust anything its supporters tell you about it.

We begin with the Trumpian promises, which you can always discount, or maybe you still think Mexico will pay for the border wall. (Did you see Cory Gardner go roguish and say the wall was a bad idea? Maybe, just maybe, he will have the nerve to oppose Trumpcare.) Anyway, Trump said his replacement plan would be terrific, and he said it would cover everyone, and he promised more coverage for less. That’s when he wasn’t tweeting that Obama was wiretapping his phone.

No one believed any of that anyway — not least because much of it is impossible — but when it turns out that the bill cuts taxes for the rich and makes insurance less affordable for the poor, you’d think (anyone would think) they must have gotten something backwards.

They didn’t. They put together a bill, as Ezra Klein points out, that has no idea what it’s trying to accomplish other than to be a bill that wouldn’t be Obamacare.

It’s a bill, as experts from all parts of the health-care world point out, that keeps the much-maligned Obamacare structure in place but weakens it at every critical point.

It’s a bill that gets rid of the punishing mandate (which was never punishing enough to really work) and replaces it with tax credits in such a way that the Brookings Institution, for one, says will cost 15 million people their health care coverage. Other estimates run as high as 20 million. The CBO should weigh in next week.

The bill’s supporters tell you they believe in choice, but they neglect to say that the choice can be between health care and, you know, food. The plan hits hardest those who will lose their Medicaid and the working poor in the years before they’re eligible for Medicare. That’s why the AMA opposes it and the AARP opposes it and hospital groups oppose it and basically anyone that has anything to do with healthcare opposes it.

But then there’s another reason you should be skeptical of the bill — besides the one about defunding Planned Parenthood, which is in there because, as one pundit noted, apparently all GOP-sponsored  bills must defund Planned Parenthood — and that’s because at least two congressmen have slipped and told their version of the truth. Warning: It may not match yours.

We’ll go with the less offensive one first. That’s from Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, who made the infamous iPhone analogy, apparently an updated reworking of Cadillacs and welfare queens. Chaffetz said, as you might guess, that the Trumpcare plan is all about choice and the choice that some low-income people must make is between “getting that new iPhone that they just love” or investing in healthcare. Over at the Washington Post‘s Wonkblog, they broke that down.

Something like 50 percent of us get a new smart phone every two years. Wonkblog used the most expensive iPhone for comparison, which checks it at about $800. Two years of no-bells-or-whistles, individual health-care runs you somewhere over $9,000, and that’s if you don’t have to worry about deductibles, which, on this kind of plan, run about $4,000 a year. In other words, we’re talking a lot of iPhones and not a real choice.

But Chaffetz can’t compare to Kansas congressman Roger Marshall, who is a doctor and a bonafide member of the GOP Doctors Caucus. When asked by a healthcare website called STAT about Medicaid and its Obamacare expansion, he had this to say: “Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us.’ There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”

When STAT pressed him on that, he said, “Just, like, homeless people … I think just morally, spiritually, socially, (some people) just don’t want health care.”

Marshall would later release a statement saying that his comments had been misinterpreted. But I think we know exactly what he meant. He doesn’t understand why we should go out of our way to provide healthcare to poor people when, he says, they don’t even want it. Honestly, do you wonder why he supports Trumpcare?


Photo by Tony Alter via Flickr: Creative Common


  1. Clown car attacked by anti-Trump mob in Berkeley.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “Look, everyone knows there will never be a President Trump.” – Mike Littwin, July 2015


    “I thought I had a pretty good handle on the Obamacare situation.” – Mike Littwin March 07, 2017

    Really? Seriously? When is the last time Mr. Littwin had a good handle on, well, anything?

    The last time he said he had a “good handle” on something was last year when he bragged, “But I’ve always had a pretty good handle on politics.” because, according to Mr. Littwin, “it’s not that complicated”. No, he actually said that. Since then his political observations have been (what’s a nice way to say weak, pathetic and worthless?) a little off. Here are a just a few:

    – “( Senate Republicans plan to block any Obama Supreme Court nominee) is, let’s say, untenable. It’s also a likely Republican disaster.

    By ensuring that this appointment process becomes a political brawl, it also ensures that this appointment becomes a focal point in the 2016 presidential election as well as in U.S. Senate elections.” – February, 2016

    – “there is no way that fully half of Republican voters would ever support Trump. Because come on.” – February, 2016

    – “But this time is different, because it has to be. Because a general election is different from a primary. Because GOP donors are backing away from him. Because top Republicans won’t work for him. Because, come on. This is Donald Trump running for president.

    And look at the polls. A Washington Post/ABC News poll says 7 in 10 Americans view the Donald negatively and 56 percent view him strongly negatively. He had pulled even in the polls with Hillary Clinton — whose negatives are very high, but not nearly that high — a few weeks ago but now trails her, according to the Real Clear Politics poll of polls, by around 5 percentage points.

    – (The general election) will be a referendum on Trump.” – July, 2016

    – “Anger rarely wins in American politics. The fact that Trump decided to use a Teleprompter — yelling as he was reading — made an angry speech seem angrier still.” – July, 2016

    – “Look, everyone knows there will never be a President Trump” – July, 2016

    – “I’d agree with Elizabeth Warren’s take on Trump when she mockingly tweeted that he “makes death threats because he’s a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl.” – August, 2016

    – “If you’ve ever wondered what a desperate Donald Trump looks like, turn on your TV. He’s there somewhere.

    Trump is getting hammered in the polls. The betting markets have him down to 14 percent. Meanwhile, media types — like me — who predicted that Trump would never even make it to a vote in Iowa are reluctant to look foolish by writing him off again, even though it seems increasingly clear that the strategy that won him the GOP nomination is the only strategy he knows and that it can’t work in a general election.” – August, 2016

    – “So, here’s where we are. Trump is cratering in the polls. He has turned purple states like Colorado and Virginia into various shades of blue, even as he campaigns in ultra-blue, no-chance Connecticut.

    He can’t get attention without being outrageous. And the more outrageous he is, the more he turns off voters, particularly female voters, and even, if the polls are right, Republican and Republican-leaning women.” – August, 2016

    – “Trump whose polls are cratering, whose not-likable-enough numbers are soaring, whose orange-haired popularity is only slightly higher than that of green-haired Ryan Lochte, whose PR team is probably right now putting together a sorry-if-I-caused-any-personal-pain statement. But, to Lochte’s credit, he has insulted only two nations. Trump is working on an entire planet.” – August, 2016

    – “There’s a reason (Mr. Trump is) losing in the polls. There’s a reason in a season that historically should be good for Republicans that this weekend probably won’t rescue him, unless, of course, the pneumonia is more than pneumonia or unless the pneumonia is exactly that, but Clinton’s recovery takes longer than expected. Then, who knows?” – September, 2016

    – They’ve said he is convinced he won this debate, just as he was convinced he won all the GOP debates, citing insta-online fan polls that are, not to put too fine a point on it, worthless.” – September, 2016

    – “But for those who say Clinton is spending too much time criticizing Trump, the truth is there no such thing as too much time spent criticizing Trump” – September, 2016

    – “If the polls are right — and, while they’ve been wrong before, they’ve never been quite this wrong — the only remaining question in the presidential race is how badly (or, if you will, how bigly) Donald Trump will lose.” – October, 2016

    – “(Mr. Trump) won’t be president. He was sliding in the polls before the video, and the video now means that he has no way to climb back. Which independent voter, which suburban woman, which Main Street Republican on the fence is going to vote for Trump now?” – October, 2016

    – “It was rope-a-dope with a twist, the twist being that Trump barely laid a glove on Clinton.

    Debates aren’t supposed to matter, but as Nate Silver points out, Clinton was 1.5 points ahead on the eve of Debate I, and now she’s seven points ahead and probably still climbing. I don’t know why it took this long for people to see the real Trump, but after four and a half hours on display, the worst has now become clear.” – October, 2016

    – “I still have no idea how or why Trump was elected.” – December, 2016

    At this point you’re probably wondering how someone so out of touch, so politically tone deaf, so in the dark, so clueless could still author a political commentary column. Well, you’re not alone!

    You could flip a coin and make more accurate predictions than Mr. Littwin but accuracy isn’t the goal, pushing progressive ideology is. Which is why Mr. Littwin works for the Colorado Independent whose motto is: Better left than right.

    If history can predict the future then we know where his “pretty good handle on the Obamacare situation” claim will ultimately end up. I hope he remembers to flush.

    So the next time you read one of Mr. Littwin’s outrageous, out-of-left-field, you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up, he-must-be-kidding, it’s-the-meds political “observations”—-he’s probably writing one now—-remember these ten words, “Look, everyone knows there will never be a President Trump” and try not to laugh.

    OK, you can laugh now.

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Green light a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

    Veterans Day – November 10, 2017

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