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OPINION - Shields and Brooks 6/23/2017

OPINION - Shields And Brooks 6/23/2017

"Shields and Brooks on the Senate health care bill unveiled, Trump’s tape clarification" PBS NewsHour 6/23/2017


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the debut of the controversial Senate Republican health care bill, the high-profile Georgia special election and why Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was invoked by Republicans during the race, plus President Trump’s clarification that he had not taped former FBI Director James Comey.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

David, let me start with you.

Let’s start talking about the health care plan that the Senate rolled out this week.  You surprised at what is different, what’s the same between the House bill?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times:  I’m a little surprised.

First, it’s sort of Obamacare-lite.  It’s not going to work.  It’s functionally nonoperational, because it will encourage, when they’re healthy, to exit the system and then go back into the system when they’re sick.  And that’s a recipe for a death spiral in a lot of places.

So I think, functionally, it’s not going to work.  Politically, I have to say, it’s kind of canny.  Mitch McConnell had these two wings of his party.  And I think he steered as well as is possible to steer down the middle to give the right, the Ted Cruz folks the cuts in Medicaid and Medicare and stuff like that.

He gave the center basically the structure of Obamacare with some of the rules about preexisting conditions.  So, I think, politically, it’s an act of skill.  And as I look forward, is this thing going to pass, I still think probably not because I don’t think you can get the whole Republican Party behind this thing, but I’m reminded not to underestimate Mitch McConnell.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Have the Republicans made the case that this is something better or just that this is not Obamacare?

DAVID BROOKS:  It’s not Obamacare.

What it does — you ought to start with, what kind of country are we in?  We’re in a country where — widening inequality.  And so I think it’s possible to be a conservative and to support market mechanisms basically to redistribute wealth down to those who are suffering.

This bill doesn’t do that.  It goes the other way.  So, I think, fundamentally, it doesn’t solve the basic problem our country has, which is a lot of people are extremely vulnerable.  And so I do think, as a solution any the range of health care problems, I don’t think it’s it.  I don’t even think repealing Obamacare.  It’s a cheaper version of Obamacare.


MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:  Two things hit me, first of all.

We know there’s been no debate, no hearings, so that’s been a cry.  But it’s interesting, because there is no public case to be made for the Republican plan, none.  I mean, at least with the Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, you could say, no lifetime limit, a children — children could stay on their parents’ plan until the age of 26, no preexisting condition will deny you coverage, no lifetime illness will knock you off.

There was a case.  You could argue against the case.

There is no public case that has been made in either the House or the Senate.  So, they hold no hearings, and there is no public debate, because they don’t want to take the time to make the case for it because they don’t have a case.  And they don’t want to give the other — opposition a case to make — the time to make the case against it.

And what it is, the only thing that the House and the Senate are consistently faithful on is that it’s a major tax cut.  It is a redistribution.

Obama, who was, you know, if anything, overly moderate for many tastes, did, in fact, lay it on the most advantaged among us to pay, to cover people who couldn’t afford it in his plan.  And a 3.8 percent tax on unearned income for those earning over a quarter of a million dollars became the rallying cry, the organizing principle for the opposition.

And that’s the one constant that has been through it all.  Warren Buffett, to his everlasting credit, pointed out that he will get a tax cut under the Republican plan this year of $630,000.  That’s the redistribution.

And, you know, in the richest nation in the history of the world, it is a terrible indictment, a sad commentary that the most vulnerable among us, the least — the least among us are really tossed off as a political statement.
MARK SHIELDS:  I mean, Medicaid, Hari, I think, is health care for poorer Americans.  And what this plan does is essentially starve Medicaid.  The Senate does it slower.  The House does it faster.

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OPINION - Shields and Brooks 6/23/2017


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