House Speaker Paul Ryan likely dreamed of shredding the social safety net at college keggers and now that he’s delivering legislation that could do just that, he just doesn’t think his good work is getting it’s due. So Ryan put pen to paper in an op-ed in the Independent Journal Review:
Sometimes the noise drowns out the good news.
And it certainly is right now. It would be hard to fault the average American for thinking all that’s going on in Washington these days is high-drama hearings and partisan sniping. But amid the countdown clocks and cable news chatter, something important is happening: Congress is getting things done to help improve people’s lives. (emphasis added)
Let’s stop right there. Honestly, it’s unclear what he means by “getting things done” since Republicans haven’t gotten any major pieces of legislation signed into law yet, but one might wager that he means passing a House health care repeal bill that would cut the number of insured Americans by 23 million. That would be logical, right? It is the biggest piece of legislation the House has passed—the one that warranted a big trip to the White House Rose Garden for a round of self-congratulatory glad handing and back slapping.
But apparently even Ryan couldn’t find a way of framing that unconscionable monstrosity as an effort that would “improve people’s lives.”
Of course, many of the people who would be stripped of health care insurance by Ryan’s bill are on Medicaid, a program designed to help poor and disabled folks who for one reason or another can’t afford to pay for health care themselves. But this must be the “good news,” folks. It’s all relative, and Ryan’s a glass-half-full kinda guy. The more you can deprive indigent folks of basic care, the more money you can stuff back into the pockets of people who already have more wealth than they know what to do with. “Good news.”
Because other than robbing poor people of live saving care to further enrich the richest Americans, there’ no “good news” to be had in that bill. It doesn’t fix any of the problems Republicans have complained about for years. Deductibles will be higher, the individual markets will become less stable, people with pre-existing conditions will be priced out of the market, and premiums might go down but only because people will be getting less coverage.
We are doing our job. You just may not have heard about it.
Ryan goes on to site a number of bills that apparently fall into that “good news” category, only one of which could conceivably be deemed as having decent intentions—a bill designed to help fix problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Other than that, Ryan’s “good news” relates to regulation roll backs making it easier for corporations to pollute and GOP attempts to gut Dodd-Frank banking regulations designed to protect consumers. He also touts increased defense spending (which happened to come along with increased domestic spending because he needed Democratic votes to pass the budget bill lest his caucus force another government shutdown—but Ryan didn’t mention that). He’s also excited about upcoming votes on legislation to “strengthen enforcement of our immigration laws”—all of which “face an uphill battle in the Senate,” according to Roll Call. (Psst, passing bills that excite your base but never reach the president’s desk isn’t governing Ryan, it’s posturing—they’re two very different things.) Ryan concludes:
Good policy is the business of improving lives. And for me, good policy has always trumped petty politics. When people’s lives are changed for the better, even when it’s not reported, we’ve done our job.
But somehow, somehow, in that entire op-ed, the words “health” and “insurance” aren’t used once. Not a single damn time. That’s because even Paul Ryan doesn’t know how to sell his health care repeal bill as “good news” that will “improve people’s lives.”
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.