Have Republicans turned into partisan sheep on health care?

AdvertisementAdvertisementAs President Trump and Republicans celebrate the passage of the GOP health-care bill in the House, The Post’s Jonathan Capehart offers this piece of advice: Enjoy it while you can. (Video: Adriana Usero,Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll confirms that most Americans really do not like the GOP’s American Health Care Act. Republicans like it, just not what is in it. That’s not as unusual as one might think given the current political climate.

Here are the basic numbers:

More Americans have an unfavorable view of the plan than a favorable one (55 percent vs. 31 percent, respectively). The share with favorable views of the AHCA is about 20 percentage points lower than the share with favorable views (49 percent) of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). The majority of Republicans (67 percent) have a favorable view of the AHCA.

This month’s survey finds the public has increasingly negative views of how their health care will be affected by proposed changes. In December 2016, after the presidential election but before the release of the Republican plan, less than one-third of the public thought their health care would get worse if the 2010 health care law was repealed. This month’s survey, fielded after House Republicans passed the AHCA, finds larger shares say the cost of health care for them and their family (45 percent), their ability to get and keep health insurance (34 percent), and the quality of their own health care will get worse if Congress passes the AHCA (34 percent).

President Trump has succeeded in making the Affordable Care Act more popular than ever before. Americans by a 49 percent to 42 percent plurality like Obamacare, now that they might lose it.

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And those Republicans who really like the GOP plan? They either do not know what is in it or are so partisan they feel compelled to approve of things they do not like. For example, some key provisions garner very little support: Shifting more of the expense from younger to older people (19 percent), allowing insurers to charge more for sick people (22 percent) and cutting support for poorer Americans (26 percent). As for the jumbo tax cut for the rich, only 30 percent of Republicans say that would make them more likely to support the plan. Among all Americans, opposition to these provisions ranges from 49 percent to 65 percent.

More striking, even Republicans know the bill does not match Trump’s promises:

Three-fourths (76 percent) of the public thinks the health care plan recently passed by the House does not fulfill most of the promises President Trump has made about health care while 14 percent say it fulfills most or all of his promises.

This viewpoint is shared regardless of party identification with majorities of Democrats (86 percent), independents (79 percent), and Republicans (59 percent) saying the AHCA fulfills some or none of the promises President Trump has made about health care.

In short, Republican House members have voted for something far less popular than the ACA. Even Republicans who say they like it (Trump plan = Good!) don’t like what it contains. In other words, those who like it now may not be thrilled once they find out it contains all sorts of things they do not like. Republicans should also worry about the intensity of opinion. Some 40 percent have a “very unfavorable” view of the AHCA; only 12 percent have a “very favorable” view.

One might say that lawmakers who recklessly voted for a bill they hadn’t yet scored and which did not do the things they promised were simply reflecting the blind partisanship of their fellow Republicans. Apparently it never dawned on many GOP lawmakers that their job is to make an honest, independent judgment of the bill’s particulars and then explain themselves to voters. Rather, they envision themselves as partisan soldiers who vote first and justify their actions later. Likewise, it never dawned on many Republicans to stop reflexively supporting whatever has an “R” or “Trump” next to it.

Sadly, all of this confirms the degree to which rank partisanship, approaching irrational tribal loyalty, and self-selecting news have come to dominate American politics. This bodes ill for the Republic