op-ed from House Speaker John Boehner and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
in the Wall Street Journal
outlines their plans for
what they call helping the "struggling middle-class Americans who are clearly frustrated by an increasing lack of opportunity, the stagnation of wages, and a government that seems incapable of performing even basic tasks." That includes taking on Obamacare, of course.
They begin with the totally false premise that, "Health costs […] continue to rise under a hopelessly flawed law that Americans have never supported." Never mind that the rise in healthcare costs has slowed dramatically in the last several years, in part because of the law. And never mind that the law—even in Tuesdays' Republican electorate—gets more support than the idea of repealing the law. It's been a good 14 years since Republicans abandoned the reality-based world, and it's been working for them. So they're sticking with it. And how they say they'll start on the dismantling of Obamacare is this:
[…] a proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment, removing an arbitrary and destructive government barrier to more hours and better pay created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
Right now, full-time employment is 30 hours/week for the purposes of the law. Republicans say that is forcing—forcing
—poor beleaguered employers to cut workers' hours to below 30 hours to save them from the exorbitant costs of having to provide health insurance. And raising that threshold is going to restore those employees' hours how exactly? Now employers would be able to make workers put in a 39.5-hour work week without shelling out for health insurance. Which is, of course, the whole point for McConnell and Boehner. Hint, American worker: They're not looking out for your paycheck. Or your health insurance.
Problem one for Boehner and McConnell is getting their respective caucuses to go along with any Obamacare plan. Boehner's been at it for almost four years with no success, and McConnell's got at least three would-be presidents—Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida—to wrangle. Problem two for the "reformers" is the $83 billion hit to the deficit over the next ten years the CBO says this provision would cost. (Here's another hint: They don't really care about the deficit.)
Here's problem three for them, provided that the proposal actually gets to the respective floors, put succinctly, by Henry Aaron at the Brookings Institute: "If you break it, you own it. […] They're going to have responsibility for anything that goes wrong." That is, if Democrats refuse to play along and don't provide any votes to pass it.
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