The GOP’s Obamacare repeal effort isn’t about better health care or balanced budgets. It’s all about tax cuts for the rich.
“I have to have coverage to make sure I don’t die,” 32-year-old Mike Carlson told Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) at a town hall meeting on Obamacare last week. He then added:
“And you want to take away this [health insurance] coverage — and have nothing to replace it with! How can I trust you to do anything that’s in our interest at all?”
He’s right. The Washington Post reports trashing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could kill more than 43,000 of us each year. Yet CNN says Black had no answers for her worried constituents. Neither did Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who kept getting shouted down at another town hall. Although both of these House members come from staunchly conservative districts, the GOP’s plans to repeal Obamacare is causing a major backlash.
This backlash isn’t just coming from people who don’t want to lose their access to health care. 85 percent of doctors want to keep Obamacare despite the cost containment measures. Although they complain about not having enough young and healthy people signing up, the health insurance carriers don’t want the ACA repealed either.
So why are House and Senate Republicans so hell-bent on an Obamacare repeal few seem to want? Because rich people hate paying taxes. And not just any rich people. After all, some wealthy folks support paying higher taxes, including Warren Buffet, Nick Hanauer, and groups like The Patriotic Millionaires and Responsible Wealth. We’re talking about Charles and David Koch, the infamous Koch brothers. They’ve funded countless right-wing think tanks, fake grassroots groups, and dark money groups with their immense wealth. Their American Action Network alone has spent $4 million in anti-ACA ads this year so far, and over $43 million on federal elections since 2010. And although GOP rainmaker Karl Rove has kept a low profile since the 2012 election, his network of wealthy dark money donors is still alive and well.
Donald Trump has promised to replace Obamacare with “something terrific” that will provide health insurance “for everybody” But he can’t. Not without raising taxes or offering a Medicare-based public option, both of which the GOP would shut down. As CNN Money points out:
Obamacare was carefully crafted in 2010 so that it didn’t add to the federal deficit — in fact, it boosted revenues slightly. The law affects the federal budget in three ways: coverage provisions, taxes and fees, and Medicare components.
The ACA is a three-legged stool with: (1) coverage provisions (mandates, subsidies, and the Medicaid expansion; (2) taxes and fees on wealthy people and health care companies; and (3) limits on rate hikes and other costs. Instead of coming up with a replacement, the GOP wants to saw off all three legs and call it a day.
“Don’t be hoodwinked by Republicans’ promises to repeal and replace Obamacare,” the U.C. Berkeley economist Robert Reich warns. In the video he posted on Facebook last week, he explains:
“They can repeal it, but never replace it…The result would be 32 million people losing their health insurance and a huge redirection of wealth from the working class to the very rich.”
And he says taking away millions of people’s access to health care “means a huge tax windfall for the wealthy,” he’s not kidding. When the GOP repeals Obamacare, the top one percent gets an average of tax break of $33,000 a year. That’s more than what half of us get paid by our employers! The National Wage Index reports 50.08 percent of U.S. workers earn less than $30,000 a year.
Meanwhile, the 300 richest people in the U.S. would get a whopping $7 million a year in tax breaks. Yes. You read that right. $7 million a year. In a nutshell, here are just a few likely results of an Obamacare repeal.
- 32 million lose coverage.
- 20,000 or more Americans die (a lower number than what WaPo reported above).
- Medicare is in worse shape than before.
- Rich people get even richer.
Here’s the video with Robert Reich’s take on why the GOP wants to “pull the plug” on Obamacare.