Hugh Hewitt is a conservative talk show host and commentator who has been described as by the Huffington Post as “Mr. Serious, an unapologetic wonk in an industry full of bombast.” Appearing on NPR’s Morning Edition just hours before the Congressional Budget Office released its non-partisan analysis of Trumpcare, he said that he didn’t care if 15 million Americans lost their health insurance coverage. It reflects the fundamental divide between liberal and conservative social values: liberals don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone, while conservatives consider the question academic until something bad happens to them personally.
Trumpcare will leave 14 million more without health insurance by next year.
Yesterday afternoon, the Congressional Budget Office released its non-partisan report on the effects of Trumpcare. In short, under this so-called replacement for the ACA, 14 million more Americans will be without health insurance by 2018 than are currently uninsured. By 2026, that number will increase to 24 million.
This is worth repeating. Count up all the Americans that currently don’t have health insurance. Under Trump’s mandate to repeal and replace the ACA, there will be 14 million more by this time next year.
And according to the White House’s own estimates, there will be 54 million Americans without coverage by 2026. 54 million!! That’s almost 1 out of every 5 Americans. And that estimate is even worse than the CBO projections.
Who is Hugh Hewitt?
The New Yorker once described Hugh Hewitt as “The most famous conservative journalist whom liberals have never heard of.” He is a lawyer, teaches constitutional law, and has been hosting the syndicated Hugh Hewitt radio show for 16 years, after wining a number of Emmys for his his work on PBS.
He garnered brief nationwide attention during many of the 2015 GOP debates, by asking Trump smart questions with much more substance than the fluff he was used to. That made Trump go after him personally. For example (found from the DidTrumpTweetIt archive search),
Very low ratings radio host Hugh Hewitt asked me about Suleiman, Abu Bake al-Baghdad, Hassan Nasrallah and more – typical "gotcha" questions
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2015
You may recall when Hewitt famously followed up on Ben Carson (of all people) saying the most important job of the President was the command, control, and care of our nuclear arsenal. Hewitt asked Trump, “What’s your priority among our nuclear triad?” Trump has absolutely no clue what this meant. Hewitt was asking what the future Commander-in-Chief’s priorities would be in upgrading an aging land, air, and sea-based nuclear arsenal. Trump gave a characteristic word-salad of non-sensical sound-bytes, including how he was against invading Iraq (he wasn’t), hand-to-hand combat in WW II, global warming, and that nuclear devastation was his priority. Then, Marco Rubio, in an unexpected show of being Presidential, explained to Trump (and “the people at home”) what the triad was.
It’s not the word salad that you might remember, so much as the fact that this was really the first time Trump showed the world that he clearly had no understanding of how to do the job Presidents do. Many thought this would be the end of his campaign. Clearly not.
But this isn’t about Trump. It’s about the man who asked the questions. Hewitt isn’t a right-wing shock jock. He is a thoughtful commentator with a clear understanding of the law, policy, and realistic conservative values.
Hewitt says it doesn’t matter if 15 million lose health insurance coverage under Trumpcare.
Midway through the NPR interview, host Steve Inskeep asked Hewitt “you acknowledged early in this interview that you would agree that perhaps as many as 15 million people are going to lose insurance if the House plan were to become law – compared to Obamacare, 15 million people. And I think you’re telling me, essentially, you don’t care. Not that you don’t care about the people, but that you don’t think it’s going to matter very much?”
Hewitt replied, “That’s essentially what I’m telling you.”
He then went on to try to explain that he expects states will pick up the slack. “Some people will lose. There is no doubt about it. And those people who stand up at the public meetings with Republicans and complain that their lives were saved by Obamacare, they’re not making up – those are not false stories. But net-net, more people will have better care at the end of the day.”
Inskeep then interjected that this will only be possible if all 50 states come up with alternatives that are better than the current exchanges and Medicaid supplements. “No,” replied Hewitt, “it just has to be net-net. I think if we look at the country at a whole, there will be some losers. There will be some states that do not transition well because state governments often fail. But there will be far more winners than losers, and the net-net effect for health care in America will be better and improving as opposed to bad and declining.”
The social split that is tearing us apart.
As we said at the outset, Hewitt isn’t a shock jock. He’s a thoughtful man. His argument is rooted in the academic question of the greatest good for the greatest number, and based on the conservative premise that left to their own devices, States will always do the best thing for its residents.
Only that never happens.
As we showed in this article, Republican-majority states consistently do the worst by their residents. Worst healthcare. Worst social services. Worst education. Worst crime. Worst upward mobility. Worst government. Here’s the map from that article.
That isn’t opinion, by the way; it is based on over 60 numerical measurements. If Republican-led states were going to take good care of their residents, they already would have. That is why the federal government has to keep stepping in.
You know what they call insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different outcome. Making political arguments where the human outcome is based on states all pulling their fair share is insane. Real people are going to lose their healthcare. Real people are going to be worse off under Trumpcare.
A lot worse off. And that matters. It’s something everyone needs to care about, because at any minute, any one of us can lose our jobs and our healthcare. Leaving the safety net up to the states is gambling with your life. It sure would help if our Republican lawmakers thought of it that way. For once, we might all actually be better off as a result.