Republicans routinely promise voters the moon, from lower taxes with no change in government services, to a repeal of the Affordable Care Act that would magically be replaced with everything voters love about the bill (no penalties for preexisting conditions) and nothing they don't (individual mandate). GOP performances are so effective, they've earned control of both the White House and Congress.
The Republicans have, as Paul Krugman writes in his Monday column, "spent years routinely lying for the sake of political advantage." And now that the lies are finally being subject to the cleansing light of media and voter scrutiny, the GOP is doubling down.
Just this past weekend, nearly every element of the medical sector, from doctors to insurers to patient advocate groups, took time out of their valuable Saturdays to release an open letter denouncing Graham-Cassidy, the latest Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare. Did Republicans admit, after multiple similar healthcare bills were rejected, that perhaps they've been wrong for the past seven years, and finally work with Democrats? Of course not. As Krugman writes, "they are trapped by their own lies, forced into trying to enact policies they know won’t work."
According to Krugman, the GOP probably knew that from the start. After all, it was Bill Cassidy himself who came up with the so-called Kimmel test, named for the late-night host who has revealed precisely what's at stake in this wonky policy battle. But that was just a good soundbite.
"Republicans never had any idea how to fulfill that promise, and meet that test, or indeed how to repeal the ACA without taking insurance away from tens of millions," Krugman notes. "That is, they were lying about health care all along."
Healthcare is not the only subject about which Republicans have been happily lying to the American public. Take taxes. If the GOP made a greatest hits album, track one would be an up-tempo number about cutting taxes for the wealthy, without hurting the pockets of the poor. But how can they pose as the party of fiscal responsibility, Krugman asks, when "they have no idea how to cut taxes without blowing up the deficit."
Krugman is uncharacteristically confident that Americans have started to see beyond this lie, noting:
"The Bush tax cuts didn’t create a boom; neither did the Kansas tax-cut 'experiment.' Conversely, the U.S. economy did fine after the 2013 Obama tax hike, as has the California economy since Jerry Brown raised state taxes. Party apparatchiks will no doubt engage in an orgy of Reaganolatry, but the broader public probably won’t be moved by (false) claims about the wondrous results of tax cuts 36 years ago."
Climate change is another area where the harsh light of truth may finally shine on the GOP: "As hurricanes get ever more severe — just as climate scientists predicted — climate denial is looking increasingly out of touch."
Krugman leaves us this week on a rare hopeful note.
"The bottom line is that the bill for cynicism seems to be coming due," he writes. "For years, flat-out lies about policy served Republicans well, helping them win back control of Congress and, eventually, the White House. But those same lies now leave them unable to govern."