In the not-so-distant past, vampires and zombies were fixtures of American pop culture, a night on the couch with “The Walking Dead” or the “Twilight” franchise. But in the age of Donald Trump, these creatures have moved from our screens to a much more terrifying home: Congress.
Paul Krugman has written before about zombie policies like tax cuts for the rich that conservatives insist will benefit Americans of all incomes—debunked theories that refuse to die, living off the brains of lawmakers. In his Monday column, he introduces us to vampire policies like the latest disaster of a healthcare bill, which would never survive close scrutiny (sunlight), but is allowed to continue its violent, blood-sucking ways under the cover of night (in this analogy, Mitch McConnell).
In May, House Republicans pushed through what Krugman calls “one of the worst, cruelest pieces of legislation in history.” Naturally, a health care bill that would deprive 23 million Americans of their health insurance is wildly unpopular. So leave it to the Senate, Krugman writes, “to ram through their own version of the A.H.C.A., one that, all reports suggest, will differ only in minor, cosmetic ways. And they’re trying to do it in total secrecy. It appears that there won’t be any committee hearings before the bill goes to the floor.”
The goal is clear, he continues: “to pass legislation that will have devastating effects on tens of millions of Americans without giving those expected to pass it, let alone the general public, any real chance to understand what they’re voting for. There are even suggestions that Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, might exploit loopholes in the rules to prevent any discussion on the Senate floor.”
Why go through all of these legislative gymnastics? To Krugman, the answer is clear: “This legislation can’t survive sunlight.” Republicans frequently claim that the Affordable Care Act was passed in secrecy, but in fact, “the Affordable Care Act went through extensive discussion, and Democrats were always very clear about what they were trying to do and how they were trying to do it.”
But “when it comes to the Republican replacement for Obamacare, however, it’s not just the process that’s secretive; so is the purpose. Vox.com asked eight Republican senators what problem the legislation is supposed to solve, and how it’s supposed to solve it. Not one offered a coherent answer.”
The most likely explanation is that they didn’t have talking points to obscure the fact that this bill is a thinly veiled tax cut for the ultra-wealthy at the expense of the poor.
Krugman also reminds us that these practices are not just a result of Donald Trump, but of a larger sickness within the GOP. After all, he notes, “as far as health care is concerned, he’s just an ignorant bystander, who all evidence suggests has little if any idea what’s actually in Trumpcare. Maybe he’s too busy yelling at his TV to find out.”
No, this is all about the party that nominated him, “the cynicism and corruption of the whole congressional G.O.P. ”
It would take just a few principled Republican senators to defeat this bill. Unfortunately, Krugman observes, they seem to have been co-opted by vampires.
Read the full column.