A Couple of Prominent Republicans Break Ranks to Tell the Truth

The only major piece of legislation that Republicans have passed since the 2016 election is their tax cut bill, which included a repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate. Interestingly enough, two prominent Republicans have now broken ranks to dispute the claims associated with those efforts.

On the tax cuts, it was Sen. Marco Rubio who discarded the Republican talking points.

The Republican tax cut bill has found an unlikely critic in its giveaways to big corporations: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). The 2016 Republican presidential candidate — who voted for the legislation in December — is openly doubting it’s actually benefiting American workers and says it is instead resulting in a boost in stock buybacks that benefit shareholders. In fact, he says, there’s “no evidence whatsoever” that American workers are seeing a big tax cut boost.

“There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers,” Rubio said in a recent interview with the Economist. “In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”

On the repeal of the Obamacare mandate, it was Tom Price, Trump’s former secretary of health and human services, who changed his tune. Speaking initially about the fact that people who don’t want insurance will no longer have to pay a penalty, Price said:

That may help, but it still is nibbling at the side…And there are many, and I’m one of them, who believes that [repealing the mandate] actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals that are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently, that drives up the cost for other folks within that market.

Both of those statements reflect what Democrats, economists and health care experts have been saying all along, but Republicans have been unwilling to admit the truth. Someone else noticed.

There is nothing I can see that connects these two statements other than the fact that they were both reported in the last couple of days, so I’m not suggesting some mass exodus from Republican orthodoxy. But these two men just gave us a peek under the tent of what some have called the “post-truth” positioning of the GOP. They know that their tax cuts predominantly benefited the wealthy and that their attempts to repeal Obamacare would both raise health insurance costs and leave more people without coverage. They just can’t say that kind of thing out loud…except Rubio and Price just did.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.