Oliver Willis

GOP Health Care Bill Is A Killer Like The Iraq War: Don’t Let The Tone Police Shut You Up

The hot new thing from conservative tone police today is to complain that Democrats are being too mean in describing the health care bill proposed by Republicans.

To recap: The bill would strip health insurance from 24 million plus Americans. Those people will no longer be able to seek preventative care, and the clear majority of them will have to suffer through their conditions until they reach the catastrophic point of needing an emergency room. An emergency room visit is not medical care, and if your illness has progressed to that point, you’re much more likely to die.

The bill also converts Medicaid into block grants, which is an accounting trick the right has used with welfare to effectively cut down on payments. The bill also has several provisions designed to coax states into spending as little as possible on Medicaid recipients. The net effect of these initiatives is that people will go without care, and are much more likely to die.

The Republican bill also rolls back the Medicaid expansion put in place by Obamacare, and as a result, people will lose care and are much more likely to die.

Preexisting medical conditions, if the bill is enacted into law, will return to the insurance menu and allow companies to charge exorbitant rates for those patients. People will lose coverage, their conditions will worsen, and as a result they are much more likely to die.

Those are just a few of the ways the Republican health care bill will kill people, because it puts them into situations where they are much more likely to die than if Congress left health care alone.

Conservative tone police are using this blunt language and tying it into events like the shooting in Arlington that viciously wounded Rep. Steve Scalise. The justification for this sudden distaste for harsh political rhetoric from the party that brought you the epithets “death panel” and “baby killer” is one of the most specious to come about in politics in decades.

Describing the Republican health care bill as a killer is completely accurate. Nonpartisan analysis of the bill and its provisions shows that thousands more will die as a result of its provisions.

There is also precedent for severe warnings about policy and Republicans similarly tone policing the left for being too blunt about the issues at hand.

Liberals warned in 2002-3 that invading and occupying Iraq was a bad idea. Many of us pointed out that Iraq was not a threat, had no ties to the 9/11 attack, and to invade and occupy the country would lead to death for thousands of Americans and Iraqis.

In response, the right said the left was engaging in dangerous, over the top rhetoric, even as they referred to the left as traitors, fifth columnists and Saddam Hussein apologists.

A decade and a half after that debate, nearly 4,000 Americans and possibly ten times as many Iraqis died as a direct result of that invasion and occupation. Unfortunately, those of us who warned about Iraq in blunt and direct and upsetting tones were extremely right. The people who tried to police our tone and to get us to be meek and mild were wrong.

For a long time, the left has let itself be constrained in public debate to the terms the right insists upon. Democrats have tackled important, visceral issues with antiseptic tones, sounding more like a soulless Vulcan from Star Trek than live human beings.

The few times we have risen up and spoken out in blunt terms about the disastrous consequences of conservative policies, we have been able to convince the public to pull back, to recalibrate, and to support a saner, less destructive course of action.

Particularly when confronted with a president so obviously unqualified for the highest office, aided by a Republican Party who has completely given themselves over to him, the moral imperative is not to cave in to the tone police but to tell them to go fuck themselves.

When the lives of thousands, perhaps millions, hang in the balance, one of the worst things a moral human being can do is to hold their tongue, particularly if you’re only doing it to avoid offending someone.

The Republican health care bill is a killer. If enacted it will kill Americans, disproportionately those in the lower economic classes who won’t benefit from the tax breaks embedded in the bill. Everyone who opposes implementation of the bill should loudly and repeatedly discuss the stakes at hand, the lives that could be lost and the role of the Republican Party and the conservative ideology in crafting the text.

If they don’t like what we say, tough shit. We’re trying to stop more bloodshed.