Monday, March 20, 2017

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 3/17/2017

"Shields and Brooks on GOP health care bill pushback, Trump's dramatic budget" PBS NewsHour 3/17/2017


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week's news, including the conundrum for Republicans trying to pass a health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act in the face of different factions of opposition, the White House budget blueprint offering sweeping cuts, plus the continuing allegation of a Trump Tower wiretap.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentleman.

So, let's pick up with the conversation, David, that Jeffrey Brown was just having with the head of the American Medical Association.

President Trump is saying again today the health care overhaul is moving along very well, it's going to move through the House.

What do you see as the prospects?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times:  It has no critics. (satirically)

No.  I'm first all amazed that they did it first.  Of all the issues to tackle, health care is probably the hardest one.  And so every four or eight years, some President decides, you know, let's do health care first.  And it hurts them every single time.

Whether the prospects of this bill are good, I tend to doubt.  It has very few fans in the Senate.  And it has two wings of opposition which are in contradiction, what we call the coverage caucus, who want a little more expensive bill that will cover more people; and the Freedom Caucus wants a less expensive bill to cover less.

You can't — they have to win both of these groups.  And how do you do this, when they are mutually contradictory?  And so the Senate is very daunting.  So, therefore, you're asking the House members to vote for something that will take away coverage that already exists, for a bill that probably doesn't have great prospects in the long run.

I personally bet they get through the House, just because it's so hard to go against the sitting President in his first major thing.  But I wouldn't want to bet on the eventual passage of this.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And, Mark, what we hear is the main argument they are using now in the House as it gets closer to the vote is the political vote, you can't go against your President.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:  Yes.

It's an argument that used, used in 1993 for the Democrats and Bill Clinton on his major budget and tax increase, which, by the way, per what David was talking about, included a BTU tax that House members voted on.  It passed the House in a very difficult vote and died in the Senate.

Several moderate to conservative Democrats walked away from it.  And it left those House members with a vote that they really couldn't — it became politically mortal — fatal in several instances.  I think the same thing is true here, and for good reasons, Judy.

I mean, the Republicans — part of David's answer — they pledged in 2010, they pledged in 2012, they pledged in 2016.  That was the one pledge they had,  repeal Obamacare.  It was an applause line.

So, it really did take on almost a moral imperative, or at least a political imperative.  But, Judy, this is going to radically overhaul the Affordable Care Act.  It going to radically overhaul Medicaid.  You heard Dr. Gurman in his interview with Jeff.

The reality is, providers are not going to provide coverage.  They're not going to take on as patients people under Medicaid, because they are not going to have the money to pay for it.  They are talking — one figure that jumps out, beyond all the questions of deductibles and everything else, 24 million Americans.  That's what the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

And Republicans just kind of recoiled.  That is the number that has hung around — are going to lose coverage.  Lose coverage.  That just is — that is truly unforgivable.  It's morally indefensible.  And I think, in this case, it will be politically indefensible.
DAVID BROOKS:  Yes.  I’m — was looking for the political philosophy that might be inherent in a budget.

And some of them are just weird, even for Republicans, as Mark said, $6 million — $6 billion off the National Institutes of Health.  That is an investment in scientific advance and economic growth.  And why would you do that?  That doesn’t even seem particularly Republican.

But, basically, what you’re doing, they are investing in everything that is hard power.  They’re investing in the military, in homeland security, everything that is about threat and fear.

And they are disinvesting in everything that has to do with compassion, with care, thinking, innovation.  And it’s almost like emotionally consistent.  It’s just hardness and toughness and fear.  And everything else just has to go.

No comments: