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Other View: Republicans can't find a way to repeal Obamacare because too many of them secretly love it

Republicans haven’t been able to replace Obamacare, because they think the problem with it, metaphorically speaking, is that the food is terrible and the portions are too small.

That, of course, is what Woody Allen had to say about life in “Annie Hall.” But the same kind of contradiction—you hate something, and want more of it—is why Republicans haven’t been able to agree on anything other than that they want to be able to say that they repealed Obamacare. That might work on for campaigning, but, as we’ve seen, it’s a flop in office.

President Trump on Tuesday—in what’s become something of a weekly tradition—again promised his party would strike a deal. But even if Republicans keep trying to come to terms on a compromise, they’re going to keep tripping over the same problem. That’s because no matter how much dealmaking prowess you might have, you can’t make one if people want fundamentally different things.

Now, when it comes to Obamacare, there are generally two types of Republicans: ones who despise everything about it, and ones who understand nothing about it. The first group are libertarians who want to get rid of the law root-and-branch. They don’t think the federal government should play any part in helping people get coverage, or telling insurers what that has to be. Instead, they’d like to go back to a world where the sick are mostly on their own, and insurance companies are mostly free to discriminate against them. This, together with higher deductibles, is what they believe is the best way to keep costs and premiums down for everybody else. The idea, you see, is that people will spend less overall if they have to spend more out-of-pocket, and if that’s too much for them, they can always be put in a slightly subsidized high-risk pool. (Emphasis on the word “slightly.” The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt says that “the technical term” for the funding in the GOP’s latest proposal is “chump change.”)

In other words, they want to make insurance more affordable for the young and healthy by making it unaffordable for the old and sick, and worse for everyone.

The second group are so-called moderates who oppose Obamacare entirely because of politics, not policy. Which is to say that they attack the unpopular parts of the law, like penalizing people for not getting insurance, at the same time that they support the popular parts, like banning insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. What they don’t get, though, is that you can’t have the latter without the former. If you’re going to force insurers to cover sick people, then you have to force healthy people to sign up too so that premiums don’t explode. And if you’re going to force healthy people to sign up, then you need to help them be able to afford it.

And that brings us to the GOP’s real problem. It’s that a lot of Republicans secretly kind of like Obamacare, or at least they like what it does. They don’t want to get rid of the way it’s covered sick people or expanded coverage or let kids stay on their parent’s insurance until they’re 26 years old. The only thing they do want to change—well, other than the name and the individual mandate—is the way that premiums and deductibles have continued to march ever higher. But that, whether they realize it or not, is actually an argument that Obamacare hasn’t gone far enough. That we need bigger subsidies so people can buy better coverage that doesn’t make them pay as much out-of-pocket.

So how do you reconcile the idea that the healthy should pay more and the sick pay too much with the belief that the healthy should pay less and the sick be taken care of? You don’t. At least not when you’re in power. When you’re out of it, you can at least hide these differences behind the amorphous mantra of “repeal and replace.” But not anymore, not when it’s clear that there’s a philosophical divide between Republicans who think the federal government shouldn’t be involved in covering people, and ones like Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy who believe that “there’s a widespread recognition that the federal government, Congress, has created the right for every American to have health care.” That used to be what Republicans and Democrats argued about, but, now that Obamacare has made people expect more from the government, it’s what Republicans and other Republicans argue about today.

And there are going to be large portions of that.


Mailbag
Letters of thanks

Twin Falls’ finest

A week ago a request was made to hire several off-duty officers to assist an elderly couple who recently moved to Twin Falls after purchasing a new home. Officers Shawn Applewhite, Ben Hammer and Brian Caldwell answered the call for assistance. These officers, on their day off, took several hours of their time and unloaded furniture from a moving van into the elderly couple’s residence. They refused to accept any payment offered.

The couple now believes they have made the right choice in moving to the Twin Falls area. Twin Falls police’s finest have distinguished themselves and the department through this act of kindness.

D.H. Heidemann

Retired TFPD

Thanks, Wells Fargo

Been customer of Wells Fargo for 25 years. No detail needed. Just had an issue that was incredibly unordinary and foolish between two banks and the post office. Walked in to the Wells Fargo in Burley and tried to get figured out. Couldn’t do it! The manager, Areli R., stepped up and said there must be an answer. Three hours later she called me and explained what had happened. Crazy foolish two banks and the post office locked up ... whoops. Does not matter now, all well. Just want the Magic Valley to know that this is an example of the wonderful people that live in that area.

Thanks, Areli. You are the best.

James Dayley

Oakley

Thanks, for help

A note of heartfelt appreciation to Brothers in Christ for your extra hard work building a ramp to help me finally get home. May God Bless you richly.

Flo Holdaway

Rupert


Editorial
Our View: Cheers and Jeers

Cheer

Cheers to the Jerome County commissioners, who continue to pursue plans for the Snake River Canyon Park, a vision for the land north of the canyon to the interstate.

The board has formed a seven-member steering committee that includes representatives from Twin Falls and Jerome counties. Commissioner Roger Morley and Southern Idaho Tourism liaison Kellee Traughber will assist.

The park has been in the works for more than a decade, but complicated land swaps with other government agencies slowed the vision. Now, with some of those obstacles sorted out, commissioners hope to move sooner than later.

It’s a good thing, too, because the site is getting increasingly dangerous. People already flock to the area to shoot guns, ride off-road vehicles and, well, make a complete mess of the space. Garbage is building up fast, and with no designated spaces for shooting and riding, commissioners are worried it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

Establishing the park that accommodates everyone would be huge boon for the region. We’re confident the steering committee finally has the personalities who can work together to make it happen.

Jeer

Jeers to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, for the second week in a row. This time, the governor appears to have a total lack of understanding about a bill he just vetoed.

The issue is civil asset forfeiture, laws that allow police to seize personal property, including cars and cash, from people suspected in drug crimes. As the law stands now, police can seize property even if you’re not charged with a crime. A Times-News investigation into the practice last year revealed several cases where police seized property after finding only small amounts of marijuana on suspects.

A bill passed with bipartisan support this session would have kept civil asset forfeiture on the books in Idaho but established important safeguards to ensure the laws weren’t being abused by law enforcement. Otter vetoed the bill last week.

“Misdemeanors, especially in drug (crimes) is for personal use,” Otter said Tuesday on Nate Shelman Show on radio station 670 KBOI . “If you’re trafficking, it is a felony. It’s the felony that triggers the asset forfeiture.”

Problem is, that’s simply not true.

Otter also said that, while law enforcement does seize property before a conviction, it returns the property if the crime turns out not to rise to the level justifying a seizure.

That’s also not true.

“It’s very alarming that the governor is so woefully misinformed about how civil forfeiture really works in Idaho,” said Institute for Justice lawyer and Nampa native Dan Alban. “The fact that the governor vetoed a bill that would have shined a light on this abusive practice speaks volumes.”

Is it too much to ask that the governor understand the current laws and a bill’s implications before he issues a veto? In Idaho, maybe so.

Cheer

Cheers to the FBI, who this week confirmed to the Times-News that it is joining the investigation into one of Burley’s most notorious unsolved crimes.

In 1995, 14-year-old Regina Krieger’s body was found on the banks of the Snake River weeks after she disappeared. A blood trail led from the teen’s home, and her body was found with the throat slit and stab wounds to the heart.

Rumors swirled for years after the murder, but no one was ever arrested.

Now, the FBI says there’s new evidence in the case, although it’s not clear what the new leads are.

Nevertheless, we’re pleased law enforcement hasn’t given up hope solving this terrible crime. For the girl’s family and the community’s sake, we hope the renewed efforts can finally bring the perpetrator to justice.