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Opinion | The G.O.P. Goes Full-on Extremist


Oct 29, 2023


There are not any reasonable Republicans within the Home of Representatives.

Oh, little doubt some members are privately appalled by the views of Mike Johnson, the brand new speaker. However what they assume within the privateness of their very own minds isn’t necessary. What issues is what they do — and each single one of them went together with the collection of a radical extremist.

The truth is, Johnson is extra excessive than most individuals, I believe even political reporters, totally notice.

A lot of the reporting on Johnson has, understandably, targeted on his position within the efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Let me say, by the best way, that the broadly used time period “election denial” is a euphemism that softens and blurs what we’re actually speaking about. Making an attempt to maintain your social gathering in energy after it misplaced a free and truthful election, with no shred of proof of great fraud, isn’t simply denial; it’s a betrayal of democracy.

There has additionally been appreciable protection of Johnson’s right-wing social views, however I’m undecided how many individuals grasp the depth of his intolerance. Johnson isn’t simply somebody who needs to legalize discrimination in opposition to L.G.B.T.Q. Individuals and ban homosexual marriage; he’s on report as defending the criminalization of homosexual intercourse.

However Johnson’s extremism, and that of the social gathering that selected him, goes past rejecting democracy and making an attempt to show again the clock on many years of social progress. He has additionally espoused a startlingly reactionary financial agenda.

Till his sudden elevation to speaker, Johnson was a comparatively little-known determine. However he did serve for a time as chairman of the Republican Examine Committee, a gaggle that devises coverage proposals. And now that Johnson has grow to be the face of his social gathering, individuals actually ought to take a look at the funds proposal the committee launched for 2020 beneath his chairmanship.

For in case you learn that proposal fastidiously, getting previous the usually mealy-mouthed language, you notice that it requires the evisceration of the U.S. social security internet — not simply packages for the poor, but additionally insurance policies that kind the bedrock of monetary stability for the American center class.

Begin with Social Safety, the place the funds requires elevating the retirement age — already set to rise to 67 — to 69 or 70, with potential additional will increase as life expectancy rises.

On the floor, this may sound believable. Till Covid produced an enormous drop, common U.S. life expectancy at age 65 was steadily rising over time. However there’s a large and rising hole between the variety of years prosperous Individuals can anticipate to stay and life expectancy for lower-income teams, together with not simply the poor but additionally a lot of the working class. So elevating the retirement age would fall exhausting on much less lucky Individuals — exactly the individuals who rely most on Social Safety.

Then there’s Medicare, for which the funds proposes growing the eligibility age “so it’s aligned with the conventional retirement age for Social Safety after which indexing this age to life expectancy.” Translation: Elevate the Medicare age from 65 to 70, then maintain elevating it.

Wait, there’s extra. Most nonelderly Individuals obtain medical insurance by their employers. However this method relies upon drastically on insurance policies that the examine committee proposed eliminating. You see, advantages don’t rely as taxable earnings — however with a view to keep this tax benefit, corporations (roughly talking) should cowl all their staff, versus providing advantages solely to extremely compensated people.

The committee funds would eradicate this incentive for broad protection by limiting the tax deduction for employer advantages and providing the identical deduction for insurance coverage bought by people. In consequence, some employers would most likely simply give their high earners money, which they may use to purchase costly particular person plans, whereas dropping protection for the remainder of their employees.

Oh, and it goes nearly with out saying that the funds would impose savage cuts — $3 trillion over a decade — on Medicaid, kids’s well being protection and subsidies that assist lower-income Individuals afford insurance coverage beneath the Reasonably priced Care Act.

What number of Individuals would lose medical insurance beneath these proposals? Again in 2017 the Congressional Finances Workplace estimated that Donald Trump’s try and repeal Obamacare would trigger 23 million Individuals to lose protection. The Republican Examine Committee’s proposals are much more draconian and far-reaching, so the losses would presumably be a lot greater.

So Mike Johnson is on report advocating insurance policies on retirement, well being care and different areas I don’t have house to get into, like meals stamps, that might principally finish American society as we all know it. We’d grow to be a vastly crueler and fewer safe nation, with much more sheer distress.

I believe it’s secure to say that these proposals could be vastly unpopular — if voters knew about them. However will they?

Truly, I’d wish to see some focus teams asking what Individuals consider Johnson’s coverage positions. Right here’s my guess, primarily based on earlier expertise: Many citizens will merely refuse to consider that distinguished Republicans, not to mention the speaker of the Home, are actually advocating such horrible issues.

However they’re and he’s. The G.O.P. has gone full-on extremist, on financial in addition to social points. The query now’s whether or not the American public will discover.


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