Trumpcare, a Nevada congressman, and a teachable moment

Nevada’s only Republican in the House or Representatives, Mark Amodei, is defending his vote for a bill that takes health care away from Nevadans and gives a tax cut to wealthy Americans. In the process, Amodei may be trying to give Sen. Dean Heller, who is eager “to get to a yes” on Trumpcare, some cover and support. In any case, in a newsletter this week, Amodei, albeit inadvertently, underscores a powerful case against both the bill he voted for and the still-secret but assuredly equally pernicious companion legislation Senate Republicans will support (h/t Ralston):

“While we understand that Medicaid Expansion will eventually be phased out, we expect the recovery of our economy to continue, giving us reason to believe we will not need as robust of a safety net as we once needed at the height of the recession.  Additionally, with Nevada leading the nation in job growth in 2016, we also can expect employer-based coverage to become available to more people. Nevada’s economic recovery has been strong under Governor Sandoval.”

At least one-third of private sector workers in the U.S. are not offered employer-based health coverage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When employees who are offered coverage at work have to share the cost, as is typical, the burden is often prohibitive, and less than half of employees participate.

To “expect employer-based coverage to become available to more people,” as Amodei does, presumes at least two developments. First, employers would find ways to provide more affordable coverage to workers. That seems impossible under legislation that by most accounts will not lower the cost of coverage but price a lot of people out of it.

Second, Amodei presumes Nevada’s job growth will consist of jobs that provide a combination of not only affordable health care coverage but — and just as importantly under the restrictions and rising costs estimated to accompany Trumpcare — a salary that will allow employees to burden their share of the cost.

Here are the most common jobs in Nevada, according to the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation:

Here are the jobs BLS projects to grow most in Nevada through 2024.:

By speculating that Nevada’s economic recovery is “reason to believe we will not need as robust of a safety net,” Amodei is demonstrating either ignorance or denial of the true texture of Nevada’s economy. It is fitting that Amodei, in the process, references Gov. Brian Sandoval, since Sandoval and his acolytes commit this same oversight time and again. Heller, whose grasp of the economy is limited to bromides, has shown even less awareness of, or even much interest in, actual working Nevadans.

Education and economic growth and development are fine and wonderful things. But they are not going to transform an economy that relies on an army of poorly paid employees in unstable jobs with no benefits — i.e., about a third of Nevada’s workforce. Wages and working conditions in the real economy, the one people live and work in, combine with systemic malevolence to constitute our most urgent economic crisis. People who understand that will never vote for Trumpcare. People who don’t will, which explains why Amodei already has, and why Heller is so eager “to get to a yes.”