Best columns: The U.S.
The GOP’s health-care muddle
“Are congressional Republicans about to walk into a trap of their own making?” asked Jonathan Bernstein. Virtually every Republican in Congress ran on “repealing and replacing Obamacare,” but the party never came up with a coherent plan that could fulfill its grandiose promises of better care for less money. So now the Senate is trying to rush through a bill in secret that will almost certainly be highly unpopular. All indications are that the legislation will reduce subsidies to people buying policies on the exchanges, raise their deductibles, and force states to push millions of low-income people off Medicaid. Nearly $1 trillion in Obamacare taxes on the wealthy will be cut. The political cost of this “symbolic” victory could be very high: Just as with Obamacare, “Trumpcare” will be blamed “for everything that goes wrong with anyone’s health care”; unlike with Obamacare, most people will see their benefits reduced. “The results could easily contribute to electoral disaster for the party in the 2018 and 2020 elections.” If Republicans are lucky, they won’t get the necessary 50 votes in the Senate. It’ll be a political embarrassment, but not nearly as damaging as taking permanent ownership of a “Trumpcare” plan that few people like.
When cops kill without justification
“An American police officer can do almost anything without suffering criminal consequences,” said Daniel Payne. That’s the tragic takeaway of last week’s acquittal of Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of motorist Philando Castile last year. The officer pulled Castile over because the African-American’s car had a broken taillight, and Castile—whose fiancée and daughter were in the car—politely informed the officer he had a licensed handgun in the car. Yanez told Castile to produce his driver’s license, and the officer panicked when he saw the motorist go for his pocket, and fired seven shots at point-blank range, killing him. Castile’s death was utterly unjustified—the product of the officer’s unreasonable fear. No one with “murderous intent” would politely inform a police officer he had a weapon in the car. Yet the jury let Yanez walk, because Americans “have a deeply dysfunctional and unhealthy attitude about what constitutes acceptable police behavior.” Last year, a South Carolina jury failed to convict a cop who was seen on video firing five shots into a fleeing black man’s back. The police do very important and brave work, but when they “unjustly kill innocent people,” they should not be “above the law.”
The trouble with amateur politicians
New York Post
Voters are in revolt against “professional politicians,” said John Podhoretz. Contempt for people who’ve dedicated themselves to politics and government propelled the neophyte Donald Trump to the presidency and fueled the rise of other populists in Europe and the U.S. In the past, people running for the nation’s highest office had worked their way up the ladder of local, state, and federal government, gaining experience in “the nuts and bolts” of legislation, governance, and popular persuasion. This makes sense: Would you bring your car for repair to someone with no experience as a mechanic? Yet today, intoxicated by the “mystical cult surrounding successful businessmen,” millions of voters have handed the awesome power and responsibility of the presidency to someone who “does not know how the political system works.” Trump has tried to run the country the same way he ran his small, privately held company, and has been enraged by the “complicated set of rules that have been put in place to restrain American politicians from just doing whatever they want.” As a result, “he seems remarkably powerless in the most powerful job on Earth.” Perhaps Americans will now realize the presidency is no job for amateurs. “Or will we just move from Trump to Oprah?”