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Tribune Editorial: Chaffetz suffers a barrage of mean tweets for nothing

First Published      Last Updated Mar 08 2017 12:34 pm

Jason Chaffetz suffered through a buzz saw of well-deserved mean tweets and online attacks Tuesday after foolishly suggesting that low-income families could do without the Affordable Care Act if they would just show enough personal fiscal discipline to pass on the latest iPhone release.

That's sad. Although the 3rd District congressman from Utah partially walked back the remarks later in the day, his suggestion that giving up a $600 iPhone would gain for anyone health insurance worth more than $10,000 is foolish, hurtful to the millions of people who stand to lose their coverage and all too reminiscent of the old Republican — and, frankly, racist — images of welfare queens driving Cadillacs.




What's worse is that Chaffetz's gaffe — defined as a politician saying what he really thinks — put him through all that pain for nothing. The House Republican Obamacare replacement bill that he was defending is clearly dead on arrival.

The bill, supposedly seven years in the making, would take coverage away from some 15 million to 20 million Americans, include tax cuts for the rich and further unbalance the system in ways that the systemic "death spirals" Republicans said were coming for the ACA become more, and not less, likely.

But, as dawned on the president of the United States just the other day, "It's an unbelievably complex subject."

So even the new Republican alternative might serve as a starting point for some real discussion. A discussion that would be better than the repeal-now, replace-later approach advocated by some conservatives.

There are conservatives, libertarians and some business groups who oppose the new bill because it isn't a total abdication of any federal role in guaranteeing real health care coverage of the sort that citizens of every civilized nation have long taken for granted.

And there are liberals and Democrats who oppose it because, in their eyes, it is simply a vehicle to take from the poor and give to the rich.

Underlying even the disastrous approach in the new House plan is the realization that almost nobody wants to return to a pre-Obamacare era, when the nation's innovative health care system was rapidly pricing itself out of reach of millions of Americans.

Accepting that that is not going to happen could be the first step toward some real progress on the matter.

One knock on the ACA was that it passed with only Democrats in support. The new Republican plan will likely win no votes from Democrats, and may not even hold the Republicans together.

That's why the new bill serves a purpose only if it launches some real give-and-take from all sides.

 

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