The GOP’s Secret Legislation Strategy to Pass TrumpCare and Cut Medicaid
Think the GOP Senate will write a much better bill? Think again.
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had a problem when the American Health Care Act arrived from the House last month. What to do with a bill that is clogging your agenda but only 8 percent of Americans want you to pass and members of your own caucus swore was dead on arrival? McConnell couldn’t have missed the town halls filled with angry Americans who rely on Medicaid and see the Affordable Care Act’s protections for those with preexisting conditions as a godsend. The House bill — which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would cause 23 million to lose coverage and end those protections for many — threatened all of that.”
“Faced with that reality, McConnell could have started over and had the Senate develop its own legislation, perhaps even working with Democrats on a bipartisan alternative that could withstand the test of time. Instead, McConnell put a plan in place to pass something close to the House bill using three simple tools: sabotage, speed and secrecy.”
So passing TrumpCare by other means-speed, sabotage, and secrecy.
The GOP argument for TrumpCare? Something has to be done ObamaCare has imploded. Not true but the only argument they have:
“Given the unpopularity of the AHCA, Republicans have just one argument: Obamacare has failed. The GOP premise is “bad” beats “dead.” The problem is the facts don’t support this. Medicaid — which accounts for the bulk of the ACA coverage expansion — is successful, popular and bipartisan. The ACA’s individual insurance exchanges got off to an uneasy start, but after five years, insurer filings and independent reports all point to profitable insurers and stable or stabilizing markets — at least until President Trump intervened to rattle insurers.”
There’s the beauty of it. Trump and the GOP can deliberately sabotage ACA and then claim a la Paul Ryan: This is a recuse operation, a rescue operation.
So sabotage-and speed:
“As he watched House members scrupulously avoid constituents while on recess, McConnell clearly recognized that his best bet would be to hold a vote before the July 4 recess in hopes this would minimize pressure on vulnerable senators such as Nevada’s Dean Heller — who won his seat by a mere 12,000 votes in a state where more than 200,000 will lose Medicaid coverage.”
“So last week McConnell deployed Rule XIV, a fast-track procedure that bypasses the committee process and moves the bill directly to the floor. Just as in the House, we’re on track to have a vote with no hearings (there were more than 100 for the ACA). Knowing the coverage loss will be significant, McConnell plans to vote within only days, or possibly even hours, of the release of the CBO score. Moving fast leaves opponents, and the public, with no time to catch up to the details.”
McConnell is weaponizing a Secret Legislation strategy that was piloted in the bipartisan spending/budget deals of Obama's second term.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) June 12, 2017
“None of this will work if the content of the bill cannot be kept secret for as long as possible. A small group of Republicans is amending the House bill behind close doors. And for all the talk of having the Senate start over and fix the bad House bill, their reported changes appear to be minimal, and to follow the blueprint laid out by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) that: “80 percent of what the House did we’re likely to do.” The ACA’s expansion of Medicaid would end. The caps on Medicaid spending imposed by the House bill would remain. With state approval, insurers would still be able to offer Swiss cheese policies that drop benefits people with preexisting conditions need most.”
Ryan Cooper warns ObamaCare repeal is closer than we think:
“The American Health Care Act (a tax cut for rich people paid for with Medicaid cuts, disguised as a health-care reform bill) is quietly working its way through the Senate. Now so-called moderates in the Senate have signaled their intention to support the bill, making passage far more likely. People who don’t want a brutal reduction in the quality of American health care should watch out.”
“It’s unclear exactly what changes Republicans in the Senate have made, because the process — just as in the House — is proceeding under a cloud of total secrecy. There have been no hearings, no committee markups, and no possibility for amendment, and there will be none. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) lambasted a visibly squirming Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) over the obvious fact that Senate Republicans are attempting to pass the bill before anyone can get wind of exactly what’s in it.”
Sure, the GOP ‘moderates’-as if there are any real moderates in the GOP these days-have made noises about protecting the Medicaid expansion, preconditions, etc. But in truth it’s just theatrics:
“But, as usual, the moderates look like they’re going to cave. They just want to delay rolling back the expansion a bit so the pain won’t really start to bite until after the next election. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) even came up with one of those signature moronic D.C. catchphrases for the idea, calling it putting the expansion on a “glide path.” (A better phrase would be a “ratcheting noose.”)”
“Tierney Sneed reports at Talking Points Memo that the further cuts — in essence, repeating the block grant-and-spending cap routine that mostly strangled traditional welfare — are still under discussion, but it should always be assumed that the so-called moderates will fold. As Josh Marshall writes, “The pattern is the same one from the House. The GOP moderates always cave.”
So what can be done? Deluge your GOP Senators-thankfully I don’t have any hear in NY-with phone calls. It’s not guaranteed to work but it’s the only hope.
“As Ben Wikler argues, the only thing that might stop the bill is constituents absolutely deluging their senators with calls, letters, and visits. Outside pressure isn’t guaranteed to work, but it’s opponents’ best hope. Conversely, if people lose interest and hope it simply won’t pass — or believe that the ultraconservatives in the House will balk during the conference committee — this thing is probably going through. It’s the Republican Party, always assume the absolute worst.”
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
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