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Media Boosts Trumpcare Promoter Without Asking Who’s Writing His Checks

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Media Boosts Trumpcare Promoter Without Asking Who’s Writing His Checks

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Avik Roy

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

After weeks of radio silence from the press, it appears we are finally having some type of national debate over the newly renamed “Restoring America’s Health Care Freedom Reconciliation Act,” better known as “Senate Republicans’ backroom attempt to secretly overhaul the U.S. health care system.”

A recent report by the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office revealed on Monday that the GOP plan would leave 22 million people without health insurance and radically increase costs for a large swath of Americans.

Due to the bill’s unpopularity and the opaque nature of the sausage-making process, media outlets have been starved for pundits willing to go in front of a camera or put their names on op-eds to support it. Luckily, one stand-alone pundit is willing to go to bat for the toxic piece of legislation—Avik Roy, who managed to get the most coveted media spots in the universe this past week, writing in breathless, infomercial tones on the benefits of the bill:

Avik Roy’s primary function is to be the Reasonable Conservative and lobby centrists and liberals in their own media spaces that their worries about smoke-filled backroom Republican health care plans are unwarranted. This is done with a mix of “aw, shucks” nuance trolling and warmed-over discredited claims that health care coverage does not, in fact, affect mortality.

This isn’t a post about the substance of Avik Roy’s argument. Lots of otherwriters have written about his claims and sought to debunk them. This post is about whether the source of his funding and his sudden rise as the face of the otherwise faceless, secret GOP plan is worth an ounce of scrutiny. Given his enthusiastic and unqualified spin (even before anyone knew what was in the legislation), some, such as MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid, have understandably begun to question Roy’s motives.

Avik Roy and others involved with his generically named Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity have ties to far-right billionaires through the Manhattan Institute and other organizations. FREOPP itself is associated with the Koch-backed State Policy Network, but FREOPP’s website does not reveal any of its donors, nor does it share its tax number, as most nonprofits do.

This could be because FREOPP is a new corporation (it was founded in May 2016), but neither the firm nor Roy responded to multiple questions via email and Twitter about who funds the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity.

Others are noticing the sudden importance of the heretofore obscure think tank. FREOPP is “a very official-sounding think tank that popped up in 2016 seemingly just to orchestrate a repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” The New Republic’s Cilo Chang wrote.

The online address for Roy’s “think tank” is for a P.O. Box inside a UPS store in Austin. The physical address on record for the state of Texas for FREOPP is Roy’s personal home in Austin.

Also unclear is whether Roy is helping write the legislation itself. As New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait notes, Roy certainly isn’t saying he isn’t:

Roy emails back: “As a matter of policy, I don’t discuss with the press my conversations with policymakers.” So, if you’re curious whether he helped write the plan he has been touting in a number of op-eds and interviews, Roy isn’t saying, but “yes” seems like a fairly safe assumption.

It’s romantic to think that a scrappy, startup think tank could have so much influence on the single most consequential piece of legislation in a generation, but an ounce of disclosure would be helpful. Transparency is key with all nonprofits and think tanks–why should Roy’s be any different? People have a right to know if he’s little more than a glorified lobbyist for a specific industry or billionaire or if he’s just an earnest, totally normal guy who just happens to like gutting health coverage for millions.

Adam Johnson is a contributing analyst at FAIR and contributing writer for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @AdamJohnsonNYC.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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4 Comments

  1. dbtheonly June 29, 2017

    The RWMO has an interlocking series of pundits, experts, and officials.

    Whooda thunk it?

    Does it matter which Right Wing Billionaire is funding this particular pseudo-expert?

    Reply
  2. Eleanore Whitaker June 29, 2017

    Why exactly are the right wing Billionaires so desperate to get a 4th tax cut since Bush ’43 took office? Something is amiss here. If they are billionaires with nary a care or a need in the world, why are they willing to throw the sick, elderly and handicapped under a bus just to get another few billion?

    I smell a HUGE Wall Street crash coming that these dogs of greed know is going to put a leash on their freedom to buy the government they want.

    First of all, it comes down to one thing: Government by representation of the people. Billionaires represent ONLY 1% of the people of this country who pay taxes.

    If their idea is to do what King George of England did before the Revolutionary War, they’ll cause another revolution the likes of which they’ll end up with shrapnel hanging out their butts.

    Trumpcare is not about healthcare reform. It is about a slimeball who calls himself President knowingly trying to get himself another tax cut. After all, if you owed Putin the hundreds of billions Trump does, you’d want to cut taxes too.

    Reply
  3. ivory69690@yahoo.com June 29, 2017

    Trump’s latest attack on Mika Brzezinski is laced with sexism , so is this what THE DONNY DUMP CLOWN SHOW brain dead followers enjoy ? this DUMPSTER full of BULLSHIfT is the biggest loser wow try something very new try growning up and stop being a child minded tweeter clown . your the first DUMPSTER full of chit . NEVER HAS THE WHITE HOUSE EVER HAD SUCH A LOW LIFE LYING SCUM BAG . you win the crown and the prize you turd . it will come time and this is just a DUMPSTER warning you DUMPSTER CLOWN are painting a bull’s eye target on your self (kind of fitting bull’s eyes big time BULLSHIfTER ) but DONNY DOOMS CLOWN one might not want you to just go out and to your end .(again just a warning of things that may come ? ) for you the CLOWN . one might want to see if you can suffer like you make and have made anyone that had anything to do with you in your dirt bag life . one might want to go after your family who knows ? a warning and I wouldn’t put it pass anyone . thy may have the same evil nasty haste in them that you have in your worthless body . DONNY DUMP is the worse form of scum ball life there has ever been in time . as for you there’s only one way you deserve to go out and that’s as you are the worse and nastiest way possible . and that is still too good for you . heath the warnings I can at time predict the future at some time’s and for some reason I can imagine this dark black cloud hanging ands following you around . and it will catch you . I can feel it in the future for you . that’s just what the future holds for you CLOWN ! and it couldn’t happen to a more worthy piece of DUMPSTER TRASH like you !!! every thing catches up with every one at some point . catching up with you cant come fast enough

    Reply
  4. ivory69690@yahoo.com June 29, 2017

    what a JOKE THE DONNY DUMP CLOWN SHOW TRUELY IS his brain washed wife just tweeted out defending the clown saying if some one hits him he hits back 10 times harder ARE YOU KIDDING ME the dumpster clown is nothing but a COWARD he beats up women and rape’s them draft dodges the draft 5 times hiding running away like a coward he has chicken blood running through his coward body . and his wife was trying to make a stand of internet bullying she cant even keep her dope DONNY from bullying

    Reply

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