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Hullabaloo


Friday, June 23, 2017

 

Auto-aurotic fixation

by Tom Sullivan


Still from Goldfinger (1964).

Wondering this morning: can you brainwash yourself? Because we have not seen the kind of homicidal groupthink behind the Senate health care bill since Jonestown. Former health insurance executive turned health care crusader, Wendell Potter, told Joy Reid his insurance company colleagues "would never be this cruel."



"There is something that has really happened to this party of my father and my grandfather," Potter says. "It's as if they're under some kind of evil force that would lead them to take away access to health care for millions of people..." It's gold. It's money, and the power, not the freedom, that comes with it.

I've said I can often tell a new acquaintance is a Republican by how quickly the conversation turns to money. It's a fixation. One wonders a guy like Donald Trump ever had the time away from counting his money to have sex. Unless impoverishing others is even better.

That was the plot of the 1964 Bond film, Goldfinger. The super-villain meant to break into Fort Knox, not to steal the gold there (far too troublesome to move), but to irradiate the U.S. reserves, making his own supplies far more valuable and allowing the Chinese to profit from the economic chaos. If Auric Goldfinger were real, the Midas cult would promote his beatification.

President Donald Trump. Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, obviously, are nowhere near that clever. But they've got cruel down cold. Exhibit A is the Senate health bill revealed yesterday. It's complex. Vox's Sarah Kliff has an explainer. But the New York Times editorial board cuts to the chase:

It would be a big mistake to call the legislation Senate Republicans released on Thursday a health care bill. It is, plain and simple, a plan to cut taxes for the wealthy by destroying critical federal programs that help provide health care to tens of millions of people.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and other Republicans have pitched the bill as a fix for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. But their true ambition is not to reform Obamacare, which, whatever its shortcomings, has given 20 million Americans access to health insurance. If passed in its current form, the Senate bill would greatly weaken Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides insurance to nearly 69 million people, more than any other government or private program. It would do this by gradually but inexorably shifting more of the financial burden of Medicaid to states, in effect, forcing them to cover fewer people and to provide fewer services. Over all, the Senate would reduce federal spending by about $1 trillion over 10 years and use almost that much to cut taxes for rich families and health care companies.
If you can't set off a dirty bomb in Fort Knox, this might be the next best thing. Weaken and impoverish your neighbors to make yourself and your friends richer and more powerful.
The inevitable shrinkage in Medicaid will be particularly devastating to older Americans. Contrary to what many people think, the program does not just benefit the poor. Many middle-class seniors depend on it after they have exhausted their savings. Medicaid pays for two-thirds of the people in nursing homes. The disabled and parents who have children with learning disabilities also rely on Medicaid. The program covers nearly half of all births in the country. And in recent years, it has played a very important role in dealing with the opioid epidemic, especially in states like Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia. Medicaid pays between 35 percent and 50 percent of the cost of medication-assisted addiction treatment, according to two professors, one from Harvard and one from New York University.
A constituent explains to West Virginia's Republican Sen. Shelley Capito what passage of the Senate bill would mean for her daughter:

It tugs at your heart. If you have one. Unless you are someone whose soul is so corrupted by the lure of gold and the cultish brainwashing to which you've eagerly submitted that taking away health care from millions is your dream. Someone like this guy:

Superman: Is that how a warped brain like yours gets its kicks? By planning the death of innocent people?

Lex Luthor: No, by causing the death of innocent people.
Ah. Sorry. Wrong guy. Like Goldfinger, that super villain is fictional. I meant this one: