Republicans' Vicious and Immoral Health Care Bill Is Just Part of a Sinister Long Game

While Democrats are jubilant that the GOP passed a terrible healthcare/tax-cut bill through the House, which they think will cause voters to reject the GOP in 2018, it’s a very, very premature celebration.  

The Republicans are playing a longer game here, one based on a time-tested strategy first explicated by Machiavelli and fully put into place by Joseph Goebbels in the early 1930s, then fine-tuned by Ronald Reagan through the 1980s.  

Sound like hyperbole (or a violation of Godwin’s Law)? Check out this short clip of FDR’s famous “Fala” speech in September 1944: 

That strategy is not only one the GOP has successfully used many times in the more recent past, from Nixon’s “secret plan to end the Vietnam war” to Reagan’s “reforms” of tax law, but one that they’re clearly betting will continue to work for them (particularly with the help of Fox and right-wing hate radio).

Step I is to use the classic Goebbels “Big Lie” technique. That was on full display in the White House PR stunt after the House vote—lie about lowering premiums, lie about expanding availability, lie about preexisting conditions, lie about how Obamacare is “failing.”   (Think Bush with Iraq, or the “Clear Skies Initiative,” etc.)

To make sure it sticks, Trump had Republican after Republican step up to the microphone and clearly repeat the Big Lies. 

Step II then becomes clear. The bill goes to the Senate and no matter what happens there, complain that it’s being “watered down.” 

This sets up the perfect next part of the Goebbels/Machiavelli strategy: claim victimhood, and place blame on those awful (and often racially different from all those white people at the White House ceremony) Democrats. 

Because the Senate prevents some of the true horrors of the House GOP’s plan from going into law, GOP voters don’t realize (and Fox will never tell them) that it was really all just a hustle to satisfy the GOP billionaire donor class.  

And because of the Big Lie, every good thing that’s still in Obamacare is thought, by Republican voters, to be the result of GOP efforts, as they now “own” health care. At the same time, they’ll claim Democratic obstruction is why whatever “bad” things happen happened.  (And Drudge, et al., will be sure to find some horror stories in the fall of 2018.)

Step III happens in 2018: go after every Democrat running for the House or Senate for “obstructing Republican improvements and progress” on healthcare. It’s another Big Lie, but like Reagan’s Big Lies about the evils of unions, the benefits of trickle-down economics, the urgency of exploding privatization of the military, not raising the Social Security retirement age, etc., it’ll be believed by enough people to hold onto the House and Senate.

The proof that this strategy could work in this case is that it’s already being used, with success, to obscure the true reason Republicans are trying so hard to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. Here’s what’s really driving the GOP: The subsidies for middle-class workers in Obamacare are largely funded by an almost 3 percent tax increase on capital gains income (and a small increase on the ordinary incomes of people in the top 1 percent).  

This special 20 percent maximum capital gains tax rate is available only to people who “earn” their money with money/investments (rather than working and drawing a paycheck), and thus is almost exclusively paid at the full 20 percent rate only by the very, very, very rich. And that 3.8 percent top-end rate addition was a functional almost-15 percent tax increase on most billionaires.  

They are not happy, and they fund the GOP and its various corporate media propaganda arms.

But because the corporate media won’t explain this (“it would seem partisan to point out facts inconvenient to Republicans,” they whine), most Americans don’t realize that the whole “health care debate” has little to do with health care; it’s really about cutting that 15 percent increased Obamacare tax on top-end capital gains income.  

Because Republicans keep repeating the Big Lie that they’re trying to get “more and better and cheaper” health care for Americans, most Americans don’t realize it’s really about a tax cut for the GOP donor class.

The success so far of this first half of the Big Lie technique should warn us about the potential for GOP success with phase two, which begins now. Fox News is enthusiastically repeating the Republican lies from the Rose Garden Thursday, and right-wing hate radio is falling into line. Republican voters who live in the right-wing media bubble will absolutely believe these lies. 

The only hope for Democrats to disrupt this process is to challenge the Big Lie and call it exactly that. The message needs to be simple— “It’s a Big Lie, it’s really about cutting taxes on billionaires!”—repeated over and over and amplified by every media available, as most of the corporate TV media won’t report on this in any honest way. 

The entire agenda of the GOP has been, since the Reagan revolution (and, arguably, since the election of Harding, with the exception of Eisenhower), to exclusively serve the interests of the top 1 percent, while bringing along the rubes with “god, gays, and guns.” And Democrats, while tacking toward the interest of the working class, need to point that out at every opportunity. 

“Trumpcare: The Big Lie” could be turned into the political equivalent of a bumper sticker and put everywhere. And the lies from the Rose Garden need to be challenged now, tomorrow, and every single day for the next two years by every elected Democrat in America by pointing out the reality of what’s happening.  

Otherwise, get ready for another three years of GOP rule.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

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