Republicans like to promise things they can’t deliver, like huge tax cuts that pay for themselves or health reform plans that don’t disrupt the existing system. And that’s made life difficult for Democrats trying to propose initiatives that, in order to accomplish real goals, come with real costs. But lately Republican delusions about policy have hobbled somebody else: Members of their own party trying to show that, yes, the GOP can govern responsibly.
These kinds of expectations haven’t just hobbled the Republican Party’s would-be tax reformers—they have hobbled its would-be health care reformers, as well. Last month, Senators Richard Burr, Tom Coburn and Orrin Hatch put forward the “Patient CARE Act”—which, the sponsors promised, would make insurance more widely available without the constraints and cost of Obamacare. The plan would allow people to buy cheaper, less comprehensive plans that offer less financial protection than those sold on the ACA’s exchanges. It would also require less government spending.
But the plan actually has a lot in common with Obamacare. It would, for example, offer means-tested tax credits to low-income Americans to purchase insurance. And it would pay for those credits by capping the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored plans.
Of course, partly as a result of such changes, it would also disrupt a lot of existing insurance arrangements. It would also shift many people into plans with “narrow networks”—that is, relatively limited groups of doctors and hospitals. Republicans have spent much of the last year attacking those features of Obamacare and, in many cases, promising total repeal as opposed to some sort of modification. Not surprisingly, the Coburn plan—while popular among some conservative policy wonks—has attracted virtually no formal support from other Republican lawmakers. Meanwhile, as Jonathan Chait has noted, House Republican leaders like Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader, keep promising to come up with an Obamacare alternative of their own—and then keep finding excuses for not completing it.
Continue reading: Republican Overpromising Stops GOP From Governing, Hobbles Camp Budget | New Republic.