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The New Populist Republican Party Comes Full Circle

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Earlier this year, Paul Ryan passed a bill that would take health insurance away from large numbers of people to pay for a massive upper-class tax cut. Now, the Party of Ideas (TM) has a bold new plan — take health insurance away from large numbers of people to pay for a massive upper-class tax cut:

Here we are again, talking about a Republican proposal that would rattle health insurance markets, increase overall premiums and leave millions without coverage ― all while freeing up money for tax cuts that would disproportionately benefit corporations and wealthy Americans.

The new twist this time is the context. Full repeal of the Affordable Care Act is off the agenda, at least for the moment. Instead, Senate Republicans are talking about a bill, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” whose primary purpose is to reduce taxes. Until recently, health care wasn’t really part of the conversation.

Then math intervened. The GOP’s tax cut will end up costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion, according to official government projections, and finding offsets that will get 50 votes has been difficult. Desperate to find a source of money that can work politically ― and, perhaps, to take a shot at Obamacare while they can ― Republicans have set their eyes on the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

The mandate is the requirement that people get insurance or pay a fine. Without that mandate in place, projections suggest, the federal government would end up spending $338 billion less.

But that savings would appear only because fewer people were signing up for Medicaid or subsidized private insurance. Overall, the number of people without coverage would rise ― by 4 million initially, and by 13 million within a decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

And lowering the baseline of people having insurance would make it easier for them to pass further cuts to the ACA later, so this would be extra bad. Still, the Republican Party is going to pass single-payer any day now because Steve Bannon something something.

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