Perhaps the Best Explanation of the AHCA

Perhaps the best column I have read that attempts to explain the behavior of House Republicans is the following in the NYT by Peter Suderman:  The House Health Care Disaster Is Really About Taxes.

Suderman writes:

It’s unclear what health policy problem this bill would solve. Even for an opponent of Obamacare, it is difficult to understand why House Republicans chose this path to revamping the nation’s health care system.

It’s difficult to understand, that is, if you think they were passing a health care bill. It makes more sense when you realize that isn’t what they were doing at all. They were passing a tax cut — one intended to pave the way for more tax cuts.


Why then did House Republicans push so hard to pass this health care bill?

Because it cuts taxes — especially for the top 20 percent of earners — and so sets up the broader tax reform legislation Republicans hope to pass later in the year.

Also, I think this is on target:

The flaws of the bill, then, can be understood as a symptom of the flaws of the Republican Party, which has for decades maintained a myopic focus on tax cuts at the expense of nearly all else. Too often, it is a party of people who seem to confuse governing with cutting taxes.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    Captain Obvious has returned.

  2. Todd says:

    This is exactly what’s happening. It’s all about the tax cut. When it comes to healthcare, Republicans (perhaps justifiably) believe that they will be able to find a way to continue to blame it all on Democrats … or at least continue to convince enough voters that anything Democrats want would be worse … because, you know, Obamacare was such a “failure”.

  3. Mark Ivey says:

    It’s a big tax cut for the rich and a “Die quick if you get seriously injured or sick” for the poors.

    Trumpcare is a good name for this, you betcha..

  4. Moosebreath says:

    I agree with this, but my larger point stands. Substantially all Republican domestic policy can be boiled down to class warfare on behalf of the upper class.

  5. Todd says:

    Of course we are back to elections have consequences.

    Had Democrats won the Presidency and the Senate, the debate about how to fix the flaws in Obamacare (specifically the marketplaces) would probably be centered around a topic such as this:

  6. Todd says:

    If Republicans were really serious about possibly addressing health care in a somewhat more “conservative” manner (that might even be able to get a few Democratic votes), we would have heard more about the Collins-Cassidy plan. But since that plan doesn’t have the massive tax cut it’s pretty much a non-starter for Republicans.

  7. Mikey says:

    @Todd: What nearly everyone who calls the PPACA a “failure” doesn’t seem to get is how much of the law’s problems are due directly to GOP sabotage.

    There’s a lot to that, but the two most significant ways the GOP sabotaged the PPACA were the refusal of GOP-governed states to expand Medicaid and the congressional GOP’s gutting of the risk corridors provision. The latter was done based on blatant lying by Marco Rubio, who dishonestly and deliberately mischaracterized it as a “bailout” for the insurers. If anyone wonders why individual policies offered on the exchanges have seen premium increases of 30-40%, tell them to research the gutting of the risk corridors provision. The increases are 100% the Republicans’ fault.

  8. Kylopod says:


    the two most significant ways the GOP sabotaged the PPACA were the refusal of GOP-governed states to expand Medicaid

    …which, it’s important to remember, was the direct result of John Roberts’ decision to strike down the original Medicaid provision in the bill, making it optional within each state. This is something a lot of people forget because Roberts was credited as having “saved” the bill by his choice not to repeal the entire bill (in what would have been one of the greatest acts of judicial activism in history). He didn’t destroy the bill, but he crippled it. It’s a prime example of what I call the Iraqi Gandhi Principle, where someone gets praised for not being quite as thuggish as they might have been.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    There is a strong faux-morality fueled Reverse Robin Hood being played out here. Many in the Republican Party believe that too many undeserving people are the beneficiaries of government entitlements, therefore we need to begin the process to dismantle or privatize entitlement programs. It is quite clear that in taking down ACA that benefits accrue only to the wealthiest Americans. Democrats should not be surprised if Paul Ryan (a ‘deserving ‘ recipient of Social Security benefits) and Freedom Caucus members move to put Medicare and Social Security up for amputatation – the Republican Party believes that this is their time to roll back Liberal social benefit programs, and working white Americans largely agree with them. They have the votes to do as they please for the next 18 months or so.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    They have the votes to do as they please for the next 18 months or so.

    Which only makes their pathetic attempts to “repeal and replace” the ACA look all the more ridiculous…Obama, Pelosi, and Reid certainly did a better job playing the hand they were dealt…

  11. AndrewBW says:

    Except that I don’t think they’re “confused” about it.

  12. GOP NEW MATH: AHCA = Overall program cut from poor people ($800 billion) PLUS $600 billion in tax cuts for top 20%. Trickle me to death.