The American Health Care Act reads like a mean-spirited caricature of Republican policy-making. The bill delivers a $1 trillion tax cut for millionaire investors, paid for by draconian cuts to the health-care benefits of the poor, the old, and the sick. It is a bill written primarily by healthy, rich, white men, which allows states to opt out of regulations that enable insurance companies to discriminate against women and people with preexisting conditions. And, in a fulsome expression of the party’s contempt for empirical reality, it was passed before lawmakers had even heard the Congressional Budget Office’s best guess of how it would impact one-fifth of the American economy.
Few acts of legislation have ever provided a more comprehensive testament to a party’s values than the House vote for Trumpcare. The only thing missing was an undercurrent of patently unethical self-dealing.
Or so one may have thought: The Daily Beast reports that Paul Ryan’s caucus actually had that angle covered too:
Forty Republican representatives who voted for the American Health Care Act held shares in health care companies valued at $23 million and earned more than $2 million off those investments, a Daily Beast review of the most-recent financial records found.
The investments may be worth as much as $39 million and grossed as much as $6 million in profits, according to the disclosure reports that require members of Congress to report investments and income within a price range…The majority of the companies in which lawmakers own stock represent the giants of the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries.
… The AHCA would benefit these companies by eliminating billions of dollars in taxes and fees on pharmaceutical and medical-device manufacturers. Among the influential members with significant investments is Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, who held between $834,000 and $2.3 million in health care investments in 2015…MacArthur authored an amendment to the AHCA that allows insurance companies to deny coverage to some people with pre-existing conditions.
This behavior is both legal and inexcusable. While employees of federal agencies are prohibited from owning stock in individual firms, Congress has never voted to bar its own members from doing so. But it should. There is simply no reason why elected representatives should be allowed to trade shares in individual companies, let alone in ones directly impacted by pending legislation. And there is no legitimate reason why they should even want to: Investing in individual stocks instead of diversified mutual funds is almost never financially prudent unless one is trading on insider information.
All of which is to say: The state of the swamp is strong.