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Bill Straub: Paul resolutely sticking to his political philosophy regardless of who might be hurt by it

BELMONT, Maine — There is something grotesquely admirable about Sen. Rand Paul’s dogged dedication to his twisted political philosophy – proclaiming it to the rafters like Lincoln at Cooper Union regardless of how many lives it might destroy.

The Bowling Green Republican, a celebrated Libertarian, is giving the term Social Darwinism a whole new meaning as he hunts down the Affordable Health Care Act like George Smiley pursuing Karla. Despite the fear that many millions might lose their health insurance as a result of his intentions — 20 million, 30 million, who’s counting? – Rand Paul remains resolute about destroying what is popularly known as Obamacare – you’ll excuse the expression – root and branch.

His view seemingly tracks that expressed by Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: “The human animal is a beast that dies but the fact that he’s dying don’t give him pity for others.’’

Paul’s delirium to annihilate Obamacare is so extreme it’s nearly impossible to chart his moves without a scorecard. He initially feigned intent to oppose the effort of his fellow Kentuckian, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Louisville, to call some obtuse form of Obamacare repeal up for consideration before the upper chamber because he feared it wouldn’t kill the health care law dead enough.

Sen. Rand Paul

After receiving assurances that he would could offer his own antediluvian health care ideas, Paul relented, providing the Republican leadership with just enough votes – Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie – to proceed.

Paul was then one of nine Republicans who voted against the repeal-and-replace bill offered by McConnell because, as you may have guessed, it didn’t leave Obamacare deader than dirt. The measure, which failed, would have erased tax penalties imposed on those who fail to purchase health insurance, cut Medicaid and sliced federal subsidies provided to eligible consumers to purchase health insurance.

So on Wednesday Paul hopped on what was characterized as “a clean repeal bill,’’ one that would send Obamacare to the showers but give the Senate two years to develop a replacement — a rather dubious proposition since Republican lawmakers had seven years since the passage of Obamacare to develop an alternative and, to this point, at least, have come up with zilch.

Paul embraced that effort, telling Breitbart (a reliable messenger if there ever was one) it would serve as a starting point to “unravel the nightmare of Obamacare’’ by eliminating large parts of the ACA and simultaneously imposing the abortion restrictions.

The measure failed 55-45. According to the Congressional Budget Office, tasked with evaluating the economic implications of proposed legislation, would have resulted in 32 million Americans losing their health insurance coverage. If Paul was bothered by this potentiality he kept his concern well disguised.

With two measures up and two measures down, Paul is likely to support a third option called “skinny repeal’’ – a proposal that heave-hos only a few Obamacare provisions that all Republicans agree upon. The idea isn’t for it to become law. It simply sets up a conference committee with House negotiators to ultimately develop a plan that gets the GOP out of this godawful mess.

Fat chance.

Without so much as mentioning the number of individuals who will lose coverage if Obamacare is eliminated, Paul provided Breitbart with four reasons for disposing of the law – premiums in some markets have doubled, mandates and rules have led to 4.7 million plan cancellations across 30 states, jobs have been reduced by 800,000 and half of all Americans have only one choice in insurance.

None of those factors are addressed under GOP health care plans and there’s a lot of mush in his analysis. Premiums have increased but only a small number of individuals in the market are affected – Medicare recipients face no increases and others are covered by the subsidies provided under Obamacare Eighty-five percent of those purchasing insurance through the marketplace receive the federal assistance and are generally shielded from such hikes.

Citing 4.7 million plan cancellations is easily dismissed by the fact that more than 20 million people who didn’t have insurance before passage of the ACA now do. The claim that the law has resulted in the loss of 800,000 jobs is misleading – Obamacare has resulted in a modest dip but most cited by Paul and other left their jobs voluntarily, not because of any cuts.

The real reason Paul is becoming increasingly rabid about Obamacare is his inability to shove his square political philosophy into the round hole of reality.

The reduction in choices is an issue, as Paul noted, but experts are attributing that to concerns within the insurance industry over the continued existence of Obamacare – insurers are reluctant to enter markets if the Republican congress and president intend to pull the plug.

Regardless, the problems plaguing Obamacare, and there are certainly more than a few, need to be addressed. But replacing it with an inferior scheme – and everything offered by the Republicans thus far qualifies – or no scheme at all is a recipe for disaster. At the end of the day, despite issues, Obamacare is accomplishing what it set out to do – get more people health care coverage.

Rand Paul and the Republicans, given an opportunity, will leave more than 20 million without coverage, and then give any savings to the already wealthy through tax breaks.

It’s completely senseless when fixes are readily available.

The real reason Paul is becoming increasingly rabid about Obamacare is his inability to shove his square political philosophy into the round hole of reality. Unlike McConnell, who is decidedly amoral and has no real political philosophy other than party over country and whatever salves his ego, Paul actually appears to believe the slop he dishes out.

It is all about individual responsibility, every man and woman for him or herself. No sense of community. No sense of attaining mutual goals or that old, too often forgotten virtue, teamwork. No sense that we’re all in this together and that we need to pay the costs of a civil society.

Paul has openly opposed the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, insisting it’s too expensive to continue, with very little to say about the 400,000 Kentuckians who will be kicked off the rolls if it is discontinued.

Paul believes in his political philosophy, regardless of who it might hurt, and you have to wonder if it runs counter to the ideals this country was built on.


Washington correspondent Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com.

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One Comment

  1. Budd Moss says:

    Thank God for Rand Paul!
    How many millions of Americans lost perfectly good coverage because of Obama-doesn’t-care? How many can barely afford their health insurance because of it? Power-mad Washington hacks wrecked the world’s finest health-care system to insure a minority of the people, many of whom didn’t want insurance anyway. At least there’s one Senator who rightfully wants the nanny state to get its grubby mitts off our health insurance system.
    Capitalism, competition, and the free market are always better than an overbearing, we-know-better-than-you-peons government edict.

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