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The new Republican health care push has the same problems as the old one

Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, and Sarah Kliff discuss Republicans’ failed effort to replace Obamacare.

Photo by Pool/Getty Images

The American Health Care Act, the Republican plan to replace Obamacare, failed for one main reason: Republicans can’t agree on the best way to change the current system. Despite recent reports indicating a renewed push among Republicans tackle the issue of health care, this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

In this episode of The Weeds, Sarah Kliff, Ezra Klein, and Matt Yglesias weigh in on the many forces — within the Republican Party and beyond — that brought down the GOP legislation and continue to stymie attempts to reanimate the effort. In addition, they talk through Trump’s executive order rolling back some Obama climate change policies, and a new white paper out of Brookings about the rise in mortality for white Americans with low education.

You can listen to this episode here, or subscribe to the show on iTunes here. Also, be sure to get tickets for the live taping of The Weeds on April 18 in Washington, and join the new official Facebook group for fans of The Weeds — listeners who join the group have the opportunity to win two free tickets to the taping.

Here is Matt’s reaction to President Trump’s claim, prior to the latest efforts, that the best thing he could do is “let Obamacare explode”:

I just want to emphasize in case anyone — maybe Jared Kushner listens to The Weeds or something — how stupid this idea is. Can you imagine if when the first reports of the Islamic State came out, and Ash Carter or whomever at the White House was like, “Oh, we gotta do something about this ISIS,” and Obama had been like, “Nope! It was George W. Bush’s idea to invade Iraq. I said all along it was a bad idea. We should just let these people come over, slaughter some Americans, and we’ll be like, ‘See, assholes? I told you so!’”

That would be crazy. It would be immoral, but it would also just be dumb. Donald Trump is the fucking president. He can’t deliberately engineer bad outcomes in people’s lives — particularly bad outcomes in rural counties in red states — and then say this shows he was right all along and now Democrats are going to come crawling to the table. Like why? Which Democrats? Kamala Harris is going to be like, “Man, you really fucked those people in Tennessee; let me now make some compromise with you on taxes”? It doesn’t make any sense.

Now, it is true that if your only priority in life is to win Joe Manchin’s Senate seat, trying to fuck over Trump Country voters and then obscure who is doing it and somehow blame Joe Manchin — maybe that will work. I don’t know, it sounds weird.

But it’s crazy. Nothing happens like this. You can go through history books and there is no example where they’re like, “And then the president did this thing which he knew would make people’s lives worse, not because he thought it was worth the cost but because he saw partisan political advantage in making people suffer willfully.” His own voters? It’s ridiculous.

And you worry with Trump that he believes some of these things he’s saying. Because sometimes you hear that he told the Republican conference, “The best thing for us to do is to let it explode,” and you’re like, “Okay, he’s bullshitting. Fair enough; it’s politics.” But then you start looking at it and you’re like, “I don’t know, man. This guy doesn’t know anything about politics. Maybe he thinks that’s true. Maybe he thinks that if people in rural Arizona can’t get health care, that somehow helps him get votes.” I don’t know why he would think that. But it’s out there as an idea. And it’s ridiculous.

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