Checkpoint: The ‘Machochism’ of The American Health Care Act 

The American Health Care Act (AHC) is as puerile as it is masochistic. Even more disturbing though; the bill is offered to us by a party of sadists. The trouble with impish bullies like the Donald Trump and the Republican Party, is that they’re unable to delay their instant gratification in the suffering of others, even at the cost of the state of the union. They may think themselves king of the playground now, but such delusions of grandeur serve only to cajole the ignorance that will eventually, measure for measure, find themselves, or the nation, utterly powerless; it can only go one way or the other.

The AHC attempts flimsy changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by putting the onus on the States’, giving tax cuts to the extremely wealthy and providing the potential loss of healthcare for millions of Americans. There are as many talking points as there are talking heads to spout them. However, one particular aspect of the bill screams with the customary foolishness we’ve come to expect from the GOP.

In a recent edition of Checkpoint, I argued that Trump’s climate policy mortgages U.S. power. The inherent deficiency of regressive nationalism is that it cannot provide the only thing it promises – national supremacy. Just as Trump’s ignorant and paid-for climate policy empowers the Chinese, the GOP’s healthcare bill serves only to suppress American growth and power. It achieves this masochism, or perhaps the portmanteau ‘machochism’ is more apposite, through its entirely typical attack on American womanhood.

The bill prevents Planned Parenthood and other women’s health providers from receiving any federal funding for at least one year. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed that the AHC would reduce overall federal funding on reproductive care for women by $178 million in 2017. However, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson pointed out that the CBO report did not account for the Medicaid reimbursements that the bill also seeks to block from these organizations for that year, while also prohibiting federal tax credits from being used to pay for insurance that covers abortion services.  The actual estimate of losses for the organization is closer to $400 million. That number is not limited to 2017 either, but rather the annual estimated losses if the block on Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood goes through. 

Attacking women’s health is masochistic because, not only are women a proven key to economic growth, but their empowerment, especially in the realm of health, is an assured measure toward social progress across all platforms. As Christopher Hitchens so elegantly put it (23:00): “The cure for poverty has a name in fact: it’s called the empowerment of women…If they have some say, if they are taken off the animalistic cycle of reproduction of nature and doctrine, throw in a handful of seeds and credit the floor of everything will rise - and not just poverty, but education, health, and optimism will increase.” Indeed, the official policy of the U.S. Government continues to ignore this proof, and it does so to its own detriment. To condemn women’s health is to condemn the floor of society to mediocrity.

This argument is not esoteric, or a sermon of political correctness. It is that rare and elegant emergent proof that functions as rationally as it does empirically. As former World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick once stressed: “One motivation for women’s empowerment is basic fairness and decency...But second, the empowerment of women is smart economics…studies show that investments in women yield large social and economic returns.” Indeed, of the 8 Millennium Development Goals from the United Nations, each designed to accelerate progress by improving health, education, and alleviating poverty – the empowerment of women was described as“the key,” for it serves its own end, and in the process, the ends of each of the other development goals.

The late Prof. David S. Landes was one of the most revered economic historians since World War II. In his astounding economic history The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (see p. 412-13), Landes argues that the emancipation of women is one of the most important factors in modern economic development. Landes goes on to declare: “In general, the best clue to a nation’s growth and development potential is the status and role of women.”

This truth is accepted and strongly pursued in the humanitarian non-profit sector as well. CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere), is one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations. Front and center on their website, CARE presents their policy: “Women aren’t just the faces of the poverty; they’re also the key to overcoming it. Care’s nearly seven decades of experience makes clear that when you empower a girl or a woman, she becomes a catalyst for positive change whose success benefits everyone around her.”

The AHC, like Trump’s other ignorant short-termist policies, seeks only to appease a tiny minority, the cost of which is the hemorrhaging of the entire social and the economic power of the United States of America. The childish nature of the bill is evident in that it is highly unlikely to pass through any of the following legislative stages. Indeed, it is a pitifully trite attempt at regaining some semblance of face to their disaffected lobbyists.

Moreover, it is hardly a ‘repeal and replacement’ of the Affordable Care Act, even if it did pass through the Senate as is – an unlikely prospect. Indeed, the huge amount of effort by the House Republicans and the White House to push this hugely targeted, and legislatively flawed bill, may not be eagerly assumed by Senate Republicans. Republican Senators will not take kindly to how gracelessly the inevitable blame for the ongoing failure to repeal Obamacare has been incompetently shifted to them.

The GOP’s bill is a political jab rather than a legislative one. This makes it all the more prescient. If the intention of the Trump Administration was to improve the state of healthcare, which he promised it was - indeed he promised to replace it with something “terrific.” Why then is a women’s healthcare provider targeted like no other? The demographic attacked hardest by the GOP bill are low-income women, that is, women on Medicaid, who would be no longer able to receive treatment from Planned Parenthood. All the evidence suggests that the empowerment of women is to the grand betterment of all aspects of society, especially health, and yet the exact opposite is done.

The regressive nationalist promises of an empty vessel like Trump are designed to garner a short, sharp and brutish spike in popularity. They promise an immediate future that has long since passed, if it existed at all. Those that chose to accept such promises instead of choosing to think for themselves will have to endure the inevitable decay of their promises into the fatuous lies they were always fated to be. 

Trump, knowingly unable to follow through on his promise, without justification, to repeal and replace Obamacare – has decided instead to appeal to the lowest and ugliest manifestations of his support – spite. Out of spite, the GOP continues to uphold the most carcinogenic idea in American society, culture, economics, healthcare, and politics - that women are anything but what they are – the key to the progress and power of this republic.