The AHCA Is The Fyre Festival Of Congressional Legislation
On Thursday, House Republicans passed the American Health Care Act, a bill that would repeal major elements of the Affordable Care Act and potentially kick millions of Americans off of their insurance plans. But the GOP has no reason to be jubilant about this, because, as several Twitter users pointed out, the AHCA is the Fyre Festival of bills: rushed, poorly conceived, and primarily for the benefit of the ultra-rich. And if it becomes law, it may well result in every bit of a catastrophe as the infamous island festival did the week before.
Marketed as a luxury music festival for the rich and famous, Fyre Festival became a national punchline almost as soon as it began. Thanks to an utter lack of preparation by the event's organizers, it had almost no infrastructure or security to speak of and lacked many basic amenities (let alone luxury ones). What was supposed to be an elite getaway to a secluded Bahamian island, complete with models and millennial "influencers," quickly turned into a Lord of the Flies-esque nightmare, and the festival's planners are now facing several lawsuits over the botched event. Organizers Billy McFarland and co-organizer Ja Rule have not commented on the lawsuits, but say they never intended to deceive anyone. "The reality is, we weren't experienced enough to keep up," McFarland said in a statement.
Incidentally, the approach Fyre Festival's organizers took to planning the event is roughly similar to the approach House Republicans took in passing the AHCA.
For instance, the GOP rushed the bill through Congress, holding a floor vote without passing it through any committees and before the Congressional Budget Office had a chance score its budgetary impact. This is highly unusual for such a sweeping bill; the ACA, for instance, went through many committee markups and several CBO scores before being put to a vote. It was all the more strange given that the Republican Party has had years to craft a replacement plan, but apparently only started doing so several months ago.
Likewise, employees of Fyre Festival told Variety that the whole thing was thrown together on a way tighter timeframe than was ever feasible. Although it was being promoted as far back as November, employees told Vice that serious planning for the event didn't begin until late February or early March, less than two months before the festival was set to take place (two months, incidentally, is roughly how long it took Republicans to pass the AHCA).
The Fyre Festival team reportedly ignored warnings that the event wouldn't be in an operational state by the time it was set to kick off. Chloe Gordon, who briefly worked on the event before quitting, told New York Magazine that when she alerted someone from the marketing team of the impending disaster, he brushed her concerns aside, saying, "Let's just do it and be legends, man."
President Trump has been similarly cavalier about the AHCA's prospects of success. He says he's "so confident" that the bill will pass the Senate, but he shouldn't be. For one, Senate Republicans have already announced that they won't be taking up the same legislation that the House passed, and will instead write their own bill from scratch. Moreover, it's unclear that Senate and House Republicans will be able to agree on a bill at all, so it's quite possible that this entire thing goes nowhere. Trump is also optimistic that the law will bring down premiums, even though analyses show it will do precisely the opposite.
The Fyre Festival and the AHCA also share a similar economic component: Ultimately, both the bill and the festival were created to benefit the richest of the rich. Tickets to the Fyre Festival reportedly sold for a couple thousand dollars or so — an exorbitantly high price, even by music festival standards. In addition, social media celebrities were reportedly paid tens of thousands of dollars to promote the event, according to Vice, and the entire thing was spearheaded by Ja Rule. There's no way around it: This entire venture existed solely to benefit the wealthy.
So it is with the AHCA. Although marketed as a health care bill, the legislation could just as easily be called a tax bill, as it contains roughly $600 billion in tax cuts, though a final estimate won't be available until the CBO grades the bill. And wouldn't you know it: Those tax cuts would overwhelmingly benefit the richest Americans, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, with people making over $200,000 enjoying the vast majority of the cuts.
The Fyre Festival and the AHCA have a lot in common. The big difference, though, is that most victims of Fyre Festival were rich people who like concerts, whereas most of the AHCA's victims will be poor people, especially seniors and women. Fyre Festival may have been a laughingstock, but if the AHCA becomes law, it'll be a bona fide tragedy.