Paul Krugman: Why Republicans Have No Idea What They're Doing

As usual, President Trump is dominating the news as the gold-plated symbol of everything wrong with American politics. But let's not let his Twitter theatrics overshadow everything else that's wrong with today's GOP. 

As Paul Krugman reminds us in his Monday column, there's a reason why the Republican Party gravitated toward Trump in the first place. And it's hardly surprising that the GOP can't get it together to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act or reform corporate taxes, as promised. 

"They have no idea how to turn their slogans into actual legislation, because they’ve never bothered to understand how anything important works," Krugman says. 

For seven years, "Republicans kept promising to offer an alternative to Obamacare any day now, but never did," Krugman notes.

From what we know about the new plan—and Republicans have gone to tragicomic lengths to keep it a secret—it's not very good. As Krugman observes: 

Politically, it seems to embody the worst of both worlds: It’s enough like Obamacare to infuriate hard-line conservatives, but it weakens key aspects of the law enough to deprive millions of Americans — many of them white working-class voters who backed Donald Trump — of essential health care.

The plan was hatched by "smart" Republicans like Paul Ryan, who the media never tires of painting as the wonky intellectual of the GOP. But there are glaring inconsisencies in the GOP's Obamacare replacement. 

First off, as Krugman notes, "the only way to maintain coverage for the 20 million people who gained insurance thanks to Obamacare is with a plan that, surprise, looks a lot like Obamacare." But instead of admitting their political failure, Ryan and company are aiming to shove this bill down the throats of the American people before anyone has a chance to understand what's in it.

"Then there's corporate tax reform," which as Krugman reminds us, is not entirely evil, at least in principle. Congress could pass a "'destination-based cash flow tax,' which is best thought of as a sales tax plus a payroll subsidy. (Trust me)."

Of course, the argument for the tax gets very technical, Krugman says. 

Among other things, it would remove the incentives the current tax system creates for corporations to load up on debt and to engage in certain kinds of tax avoidance. But that’s not the kind of thing Republicans talk about — if anything, they’re in favor of tax avoidance, hence the Trump proposal to slash funding for the I.R.S. 

Paul Ryan wouldn't pass an opportunity to cut corporate taxes, so he frames his plan "as a measure to make American industry more competitive." What this actually means is removing pesky labor protections and wage increases that might make life easier for workers. 

In conclusion, when it comes to crafting policy rather than opposing the Democrats, the Republican Party has no idea what it's doing. 

"Whatever the eventual outcome," Krugman says, "What we’re witnessing is what happens when a party that gave up hard thinking in favor of empty sloganeering ends up in charge of actual policy. And it’s not a pretty sight."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.