Peter Suderman at Reason:
After months of confusion and secrecy, House Republicans have finally revealed their Obamacare repeal legislation. While it's useful to have House Republicans on the record with a legislative plan, the plan doesn't offer any estimate for how much it would cost, or how many people it would (or wouldn't) cover. In general, it's not clear what problems this particular bill would actually solve. . . .Ezra Klein:
More broadly, it's not clear what constituency this bill is designed to satisfy, aside from Republican congressional leadership. It doesn't go far enough for conservatives, but may not be generous enough to appease more moderate Republicans either. (Democrats are, at this point, virtually certain to uniformly oppose the bill.) It's a muddled version of the House GOP plan, which was itself a muddled vision of what a political compromise might look like, in some hypothetical world where Republicans actually agreed about health policy.
The GOP's real problem, in terms of passing legislation, isn't that the party can't agree on specifics, or that legislators need to bargain their way toward a compromise that gives everyone something they want. It's that they don't agree on, or in some cases even have, basic goals when it comes to health policy. This bill, and the aura of secrecy surrounding it, seems more like a wish and a hope that this essential problem goes away rather than an attempt to truly solve it
This bill has a lot of problems, and more will come clear as experts study its language, the Congressional Budget Office release its estimates, and industry players make themselves heard. But the biggest problem this bill has is that it’s not clear why it exists. What does it make better? What is it even trying to achieve? Democrats wanted to cover more people and reduce long-term costs, and they had an argument for how their bill did both. As far as I can tell, Republicans have neither. At best, you can say this bill makes every obvious health care metric a bit worse, but at least it cuts taxes on rich people? Is that really a winning argument in American politics?I don't think Obamacare is the best possible healthcare system, so I am open to discussion of alternatives. I can even see the case for the more extreme libertarian approaches to health care. But this plan is nothing like them. This plan is a muddle wrapped in a mess inside an obfuscation. Its only clear aims are 1) cut taxes on the rich, and 2) do something that can be sold to voters as Obamacare repeal. Is that really the best way to make policy for such a big part of our economy?
In reality, what I think we’re seeing here is Republicans trying desperately to come up with something that would allow them to repeal and replace Obamacare; this is a compromise of a compromise of a compromise aimed at fulfilling that promise. But “repeal-and-replace” is a political slogan, not a policy goal. This is a lot of political pain to endure for a bill that won’t improve many peoples’ lives, but will badly hurt millions.
It is probably telling that Ryan wants to rush through the House before the Congressional Budget Office comes up with a "score" of how much it will cost and how many people will lose insurance coverage. He must be worried either that giving lobbyists and constituents time to respond will only further weaken the resolve of his members, or else that the score will be so bad it will cost him votes.
This seems to me to be another "we have to do something" Washington boondoggle. To which I say, if you don't know how to make things better, leave them alone.