Thursday, May 25, 2017

CBO projections on Trumpcare/Ryancare/whatevercare

There shouldn't be any real surprises about the Congressional Budget Office's estimates on the revised House Republican plan.  Fundamentally, conservatism is a rejection of redistribution through the tax system, so the plan reduces the level of redistribution by cutting taxes and reducing subsidies.  That's... the point of the ideology.  You don't go to a boxing match and wonder, "hey, what's with all the punching?"

From a public relations standpoint, a reduction in coverage of 23 million doesn't look good, but that isn't the point for a conservative because that isn't the goal for a conservative.  So, remember some terminology that I keep using.  "Valence."  Good ole' Donald Stokes drew a distinction between "valence" issues and "positional" issues back in a 1963 article called "Spatial Models of Party Competition."  With a positional issue, we disagree on what we want to achieve.  Abortion.  Should abortion be legal or not?  That's positional.  With a valence issue, we agree on the goal, but disagree on how to get there.  Strong economy, national security, etc.

Should everyone have healthcare?  Liberals think this is a valence issue because they don't understand how conservatives think.  A headline news story about 23 million people losing their health insurance sounds bad.  Remember, though, that most people really are neither liberal nor conservative.  Those neither-liberal-nor-conservative-folk aren't likely to be happy with the GOP when they see such stories, but those same people could have different reactions to the core policy issues presented differently, e.g. a focus on premiums or which people get which benefits.  Remember that Obamacare was unpopular when it passed!  Increasing the number of people with healthcare coverage is not a valence issue.  It is a positional issue.  If you oppose redistribution, you don't care about the reduction.  Rather, that's the goal.

The reduction in coverage is the point of the bill.  Republicans wouldn't be doing anything if it didn't reduce coverage.  Their objection to Obamacare was that it was an expansion of the welfare state.  The CBO numbers are a public relations problem for the GOP, but as I have been saying, and will continue to write, their likelihood of successful repeal, partial or otherwise, is low anyway.  Understanding this, though, requires understanding that the CBO just pointed out the difference between a positional preference and a valence preference.  This is basic ideology.

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