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Johnson Exposes Secret GOP Plot Not to Hurt Poor and Disabled

Jul. 25, 2017
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Ron Johnson. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

During the appalling Republican senate debate about whether the party could get away with destroying health care for tens of millions of Americans, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito was one of the few Republicans to take a stand for human decency, tweeting: “I did not come to Washington to hurt people.”

That sentiment is rare among Republicans these days. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson told a Green Bay newspaper that, for him and many other Republicans, hurting the poor and disabled by throwing millions of them off Medicaid was their favorite part of the Senate bill. “Many of us, one of the main reasons we are willing to support a bill that doesn’t even come close to repealing Obamacare…,” Johnson said, “was because at least we were … putting some level of sustainability into an unsustainable entitlement program.” You know, by tossing the growing number of people who can no longer afford health care off Medicaid.

So, when Johnson caught wind of a secret plot by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell not to fully implement the most devastating cuts to Medicaid coverage for the poor and the disabled, he denounced it as an outrage. If the Senate bill wasn’t going to make the most savage cuts it promised to health care for the millions dependent on Medicaid, Johnson asked rhetorically, “why support the bill, then?” It was the latest sick twist from Johnson, who has flopped back and forth like a beached catfish on whether to vote for the Republican attempt to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Johnson’s ideological objection to McConnell’s bill was simply that it wasn’t cruel enough. It still provided some government assistance for people in need. In Johnson’s free market world, people shouldn’t receive any more health care than they can afford. Otherwise, they won’t care how much health care costs and will waste tax money willy-nilly by staying alive.

But Johnson’s hatred of McConnell was personal. Johnson resented McConnell for giving up on his re-election chances and withholding Republican senate campaign funds from Johnson’s race. Johnson reveled in making McConnell’s difficult task of passing an overwhelmingly unpopular Republican health care bill even more difficult.

Sure, McConnell resorted to some reprehensible political tactics, but Johnson and other Republicans had always supported McConnell’s reprehensible political tactics against Obama. McConnell crafted the Senate health care bill in secret so fewer voters would ever know what was in it. Then, even after the bill was released, McConnell began making side deals with both the extreme right wing and more moderate Republicans to fudge details in the bill every which way before the final vote. One of those fudgy little details totally infuriated Johnson. McConnell told moderate Republicans not to worry about the most drastic cuts to Medicaid; those cuts were intentionally set so far in the future that they would never take place.

 

McConnell Had to Hide Benefits for Poor and Disabled

It tells you everything you need to know about the Republican Party today that if McConnell’s bill didn’t devastate Medicaid, that needed to be kept hidden in provisions that appeared heartless, but would never be implemented. Otherwise, the bill could never gain support from the vicious, anti-government, Republican House Freedom Caucus or tea party senators like Johnson.

Enter courageous whistleblower Johnson: “If our leader is basically saying don’t worry about it, we’ve designed it so that those reforms will never take effect, first of all, that’s a pretty significant breach of trust, and why support the bill, then?” Golly, imagine Republicans breaching the public trust. This is the party whose president promised a beautiful health care plan that would cover everybody at much lower cost than Obamacare without cutting Medicaid. Instead, U.S. Senate Republicans debated plans to destroy health care for either 22 million or 32 million Americans and send premiums and co-payments soaring for older Americans and anyone with a pre-existing condition.

The biggest lie, of course, was that the Republican health care bill was ever about providing health care. It wasn’t. It was about cutting almost $800 billion out of health care spending over 10 years by destroying health care for tens of millions of people in order to give nearly a trillion dollars in Republican tax cuts to the wealthiest people in America.

The latest Washington Post running tally of lies and misleading statements by the nation’s pathologically lying Republican president is 836 in his first six months—averaging 4.6 lies a day—only microscopically fewer than his first 100-day daily average of 4.9. One of the leading topics for Trump’s repeated lies was health care.

If Mitch McConnell slightly exaggerated the cruelty of Republican Medicaid cuts toward the poor and disabled to win votes from tea party extremists as Johnson charged, that should qualify as an unexpected, pleasant surprise rather than some kind of shocking party scandal.

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