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Not Without A Fight

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Democrats and labor organizers spent Sunday at dozens of rallies across the country, pledging to fight in Congress against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and any attempt to change Medicare or Medicaid. The party’s leaders faced crowds ranging in size from dozens to thousands of people, urging them to call Republicans and protest the push for repeal.

“Nobody’s gonna shut us up! Nobody’s gonna turn us around!” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the Democrats’ 2016 vice-presidential candidate, at a rally in Richmond that drew a crowd of at least 1,000. “We’re standing in the breach and battling for tens of millions of Americans!”

“Our First Stand,” the catchall theme for the protests, represents one of the earliest protests by an opposition party against an incoming president. Brainstormed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Democratic leaders in Congress, each rally introduced crowds to men and women who had faced death or bankruptcy before the ACA went into effect, then challenged Republicans to listen to their stories. Rattled during the ACA’s passage by tea party protests and raucous congressional town hall meetings, Democrats were flipping the script.

“The immediate goal of the rallies is to show Republicans that the majority of people are against repealing the Affordable Care Act,” Sanders said in an interview this week.

“I think people are waking up to the fact that the Affordable Care Act has been helping tens of millions of Americans,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) after a rally in Bowie organized by Maryland Democrats that drew 1,500 people. “Energizing the public around a common goal can have an important result.”

I also like the basic message here — “The Affordable Care Act is a major accomplishment, and repealing it would cause an unconscionable amount of death and suffering, and we should be focused on making it even better by expanding the public insurance provisions.” I still don’t think there’s any value in the lie that the ACA was a “Republican” plan, but implicitly “moderating” the ACA by noting the superior endpoint is fine.

Is protest guaranteed to work? No. But Republican margins are narrow and there’s no way Republicans can get rid of the ACA that won’t be massively unpopular, plus rather than being led by a president with a focused agenda on the issue they’re dealing with a president who is committing them to things they can’t deliver because he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. And even if Ryan and McConnell can ram repeal through, there’s a second-order goal: ensuring Democratic unity. If Republicans are going to play murder by numbers, make sure they own it in its entirety, increasing the chances Dems will be in a chance to start repairing the damage in 2020.

In related news, enjoy this Republican profile in courage.

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  • Karen24

    We fight every single day. I will give Trump precisely the same amount of respect the Republicans gave President Obama, including never once referring to him as “President Trump.”

    • I suggest referring to him as “the Prezident”.

      The “Commander-in-Chief” title is unfortunately a legal truth. One small silver lining to the Trump Prezidency is that the always OTT and now obsolete “leader of the Free World” tag can no longer be uttered with a straight face.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        Like all presidents, he will be the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Most Americans are not in the military and none of us who aren’t ever have a Commander in Chief.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          I think this constant slippage into referring to the president as commander in chief came during Bush the Second. Or does anyone remember it before that? It continues to agitate me.

          • efgoldman

            I think this constant slippage into referring to the president as commander in chief came during Bush the Second.

            I remember it back to Eisenhower, but nobody made that big a deal about it until W (or his people).

            • bender

              It’s one thing, when talking up the role of the POTUS, to say that he is the Leader of the Free World and the Commander in Chief. It is quite another to reflexively refer to the CIC instead of the President in non military contexts.

              I don’t remember CIC being commonly used in non-miltary contexts in the 1960s and 1970s, despite the Cold War and the Vietnam War being in the news and on everybody’s minds.

              I hate this practice. It’s profoundly anti-democratic. The message it gives is that civilians must obey him.

      • so-in-so

        “Current occupant of the White House” is anodyne, speaks neither to legitimacy or lack there of, puts the same level of importance as letters addressed to “occupant”.

        If you want to stretch, we are considering the White House to be “occupied” by a hostile power.

  • bizarroMike

    Those folks in Aurora are amazing. We need more of that kind of thing too. Let’s make them look at our faces. Let’s make them feel shame.

    • Rob in CT

      Let’s make them feel shame.

      Not sure if possible…

      That said, some of the wishy washy “swing voters” who either didn’t vote, voted 3rd party (but you repeat yourself…) or, worse, actually voted for Trumpolini, well, maybe some of them can be reached. We have to hope so.

      • bizarroMike

        Yeah, I don’t think it is hopeless. Sure, the lizard people may never feel shame, but I do think people overestimate what portion of the population are lizard people. I think some R representatives are persuadable and some R voters are squishier. They don’t have to go along with Democrats to do something constructive. They just have to oppose repeal.

        • efgoldman

          I don’t think it is hopeless. Sure, the lizard people may never feel shame, but I do think people overestimate what portion of the population are lizard people. I think some R representatives are persuadable and some R voters are squishier.

          There is a lot of anecdata building up of Tangerine Torquemada voters either astonished in disbelief that he plans to do what he said, or apparently below-low-information (no information) voters who had no it was on the table.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            There is a lot of anecdata building up of Tangerine Torquemada voters either astonished in disbelief that he plans to do what he said, or apparently below-low-information (no information) voters who had no it was on the table.

            It’s worse than that. They’re negative information. They believe false things.

            • so-in-so

              Like the guy who said he had the ACA, not that awful Obamacare? Apparently was able to figure out how to sign up for it…

      • JBC31187

        From personal experience, the non-voters abstain because of apathy. Which is really, really, dumb, but the one good thing about Trump is he likes to advertise how much of an asshole he is.

    • Lamont Cranston

      Let’s make them feel shame.

      Why would they change the habit of a lifetime?

  • Jordan

    I still don’t think there’s any value in the lie that the ACA was a “Republican” plan

    Probably true. However, there may be some value in the not-lie that ACA repeal may well be a tried and true Republican plan!

    • MPAVictoria

      I like Scott’s work most of the time but I never really bought into his argument here. Yes Obamacare contains MANY components that would never be in any Republican plan but the basic idea of using private insurances companies, a mandate and exchanges to create “managed competition” is all out of a number of conservative healthcare plans.

      • humanoid.panda

        Conservative is doing a lot of work here, as the basic model (providing universal insurance via private/semi-private companies) exists all over Europe. So yeah, that’s a conservative solution in comparison to the NHS, but American style conservatism and European style conservatism are very different beasts.

        • SFIK only Switzerland and the Netherlands rely on private profit-making insurance companies. In Switzerland, they are not allowed to make a profit on the mandatory package, but accept the business so they can sell top-up health and other insurance. In France, “mutuelles” also offer top-ups to the basic package offered by public “caisses d’assurance maladie”. A fair number of Brits or their employers also buy top-up insurance, for private rooms in hospitals and other conveniences.

          There are any number of models in Europe, or the non-European OECD. All are functional and popular, and politicians are very wary of rushing to “reform” them.

          • Incontinentia Buttocks

            Germany also relies on private insurance companies fwiw, though I don’t know if they’re for-profit or not.

            • Dilan Esper

              Several European countries rely on non-profit insurance companies– indeed, that’s probably the most common model. I think Germany is one of them.

              • bender

                I saw a TV documentary about a year ago that reviewed different models for government-guaranteed health care and IIRC, Germany’s system is based on highly regulated nonprofit insurance companies.

      • Jordan

        I think it sometimes gets mixed-up between “this is from heritage!” which it absolutely is not and “this is very similar to Massachusetts, which had a republican governor!” which it kinda is.

        As Scott then goes on to tell you, the Massachusetts thing was prompted by state democrats and survived various vetoes. Its the equivalent to the “But Nixon was more left than [insert democratic president you don’t like], just look at [insert act that passed by democratic majorities under Nixon].

        So I think its completely fair not to call it a republican plan in any sense.

        As for whether it is “conservative” depends a lot on that term. Take out all the regulations on quality of access of care, and take out the medicaid expansion, and take out the subsidies (maybe?) and focus *just* on the mandate+exchanges via private insurance companies. Even then, ehhh. Its true those are features of conservative plans, but they are also features of european social democratic plans. And no american conservative movement has ever actually even *tried* to enact those plans when they have held power.

        So, given all the stuff that is the ACA that isn’t a part of this; putting that aside and given that its a feature of european social democratic plans; putting that aside and given that american conservatives have never tried to enact this when they have been in power; and putting that aside and realizing that *even if* american conservatives where to put forth such a plan it wouldn’t be nearly as generous as the ACA was, I think its pretty fair to say its not a conservative plan.

        • Dilan Esper

          As Scott then goes on to tell you, the Massachusetts thing was prompted by state democrats and survived various vetoes. Its the equivalent to the “But Nixon was more left than [insert democratic president you don’t like], just look at [insert act that passed by democratic majorities under Nixon].

          This is a bad argument that Scott uses solely because he doesn’t want to give Nixon credit for anything.

          Remember, when Nixon signs a conservative bill (or Reagan, or W), Scott never asks about the composition of Congress or the vote count. It’s only when a Republican president signs a liberal bill that this even comes up.

          The reality is Nixon was both more liberal than modern Republican Presidents and more flexible even where he wasn’t really “liberal”. His passion was foreign policy, clearly, and he was perfectly happy to cooperate with Democrats and didn’t feel that he was required to suck up to the right wing base of his party all the time on domestic issues.

          Those things were real. Nixon was a different sort of President than the more recent Republicans. And a better one on policy. (Unfortunately, he was also a crook.)

          • Jordan

            I agree, I guess, that Nixon didn’t care about a lot (but not all) of the domestic stuff that his republican successors did.

            I disagree, strenuously, that is makes him a liberal, or “to to the left” in any sense, and in particular in comparison to any modern democrat. That is the point that Scott makes, and it is completely correct.

            Its not hard: you evaluate presidents relative to the congress they have to work with in terms of legislative achievements, and executive actions in terms of the president or two who came before them.

            By that metric Nixon comes off pretty terribly.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Remember, when Nixon signs a conservative bill (or Reagan, or W), Scott never asks about the composition of Congress or the vote count.

            This is incredibly stupid. Of course I ask about vote counts. Most of the key legislation Bush signed was 1)part of his ex ante agenda and 2)passed on far from veto-proof mostly party-line votes. The idea that this is comparable to Nixon sometimes not bothering to veto legislation marginal at best to his priorities that veto-proof majorities of Congress put on his desk is silly. And, similarly, what legislation Mitt Romney was willing to sign after is was passed by veto-proof majorities of Massachusetts Democrats tells us absolutely nothing about the health care policy positions of national Republicans.

            Is Nixon to the left of George W. Bush on domestic policy? Sure, but this isn’t in any dispute.

            • efgoldman

              Is Nixon to the left of George W. Bush on domestic policy?

              By the standards of today’s literally crazy RWNJ congressional Republiklowns, of course Tricksie Dicksie was pretty far to the left. Hell, by today’s standards, even Sanctus Ronaldus Magnus was leftier.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yes Obamacare contains MANY components that would never be in any Republican plan

        Well, then I think we’re done here, but anyway

        private insurances companies, a mandate and exchanges to create “managed competition”

        Someone beat me to it, but this basic concept isn’t something Republicans invented or owned, and is part of more progressive systems than the ACA.

      • FlipYrWhig

        But, like humanoid.panda said, what’s the justification for calling that approach “conservative”? Not that I’m an expert but tt seems entirely in keeping with the whole Progressive Era ethos of protecting American citizens and addressing the general good with strong regulations and various administrative fixes.

      • Murc

        Yes Obamacare contains MANY components that would never be in any Republican plan but the basic idea of using private insurances companies, a mandate and exchanges to create “managed competition” is all out of a number of conservative healthcare plans.

        At that point you’ve zoomed so far back that proper comparisons are impossible, tho.

        I mean, this strikes me as similar to saying “both the Republican and Democratic budget plans include revenue sources and spending sources, so they basically have the same basic ideas behind them, right?”

        There is some value in referring to the ACA as adopting Republican priorities… to Republicans and leaners. Because it exposes their lies. The Republicans have been offering “alternatives” they had no intention of following through on for decades, and pointing out that they keep moving the goalposts can be helpful.

        • Scott Lemieux

          There is some value in referring to the ACA as adopting Republican priorities… to Republicans and leaners.

          Is there, though?

          If you’re going to use a line that isn’t true, I think the burden of proof is on the user to show that it’s politically effective. I see no evidence that this had ever worked. And the fact that it’s a chicken that enemies of the ACA from the nominal left are still fucking is further reason not to use it.

  • humanoid.panda

    Weird. I was repeatedly told that Democrats are totally going to go along with Republican plans because Chuck Schumer is a macher.

    • Trump went out his way to insult Schumer, repeatedly calling him a “clown”. We are told Trump is clever in a short-term, news-cycle sort of way. I don’t see it.

    • sharonT

      I think that unity among House Democrats is still a fragile beast. The New Democrat/Blue Dog Caucus has already reached out to the House GOP leadership to partner with them on ACA replacement legislation. These were always the Democrats who were most allergic to the tax increases that funded the Medicaid expansion, exchange subsidies and the Medicare prescription reforms. This group has always been willing to vote for GOP authored legislation to add a bit of the ‘old bipartisan faerie dust to House bills.

      • humanoid.panda

        Care to share a link? I haven’t heard about it, and no Democrat either in Senate or House (even Manchin) voted yes on the initial repeal vote?

        • sharonT

          Senate democrats didn’t vote for the reconciliation bill. You’re correct, but I didn’t say that they did.

          Some House democrats on the other hand… this is the final roll call on a vote on regulatory oversight
          http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2017/roll008.xml

          The Yarmuth amendment on the House GOP ACA repeal
          http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2017/roll057.xml

          • humanoid.panda

            Um, you posted links to a very bad vote on regulations that has nothing to do with the ACA, and an amendment to the repeal legislation that was voted down…

  • MPAVictoria

    Good on Bernie leading this fight.

    • Lasker

      And good on Democrats as a whole for embracing it! This is encouraging. Sanders’ rhetoric since the election has not always been on point but give him an issue like this to focus on and I think he can do a lot of good.

      Sanders also funded this it with left over money from his campaign, as I understand it.

      The jury will still be out on whether “Our Revolution” has any legs for a while, but this seems a good start – despite the caveats from Aimai below.

      • Nick never Nick

        Very few people’s rhetoric has been totally on point since the election — this is a time of confusion and fear for Democrats, and I’m sure that many of our representatives feel the same way. We’re affected by reading huge amounts of news and amateur opinion (e.g. LGM); they’re affected by different sources. Give everyone time to come together — sorting people into leaders and followers isn’t something that happens automatically, it needs agreement on both ends.

        • Rob in CT

          Well said.

        • Lasker

          Yes, very true. I’m glad this kind of issues based organizing is getting major buy-in from the party. Something that points not just to defeating Trump, but building something better post-impeachment. (Is my optimism showing?) Now if we could get similar efforts around civil rights we’d really be talking.

      • FlipYrWhig

        give him an issue like this to focus on and I think he can do a lot of good.

        This. I have gotten to the point where I roll my eyes or worse whenever Sanders starts talking about How To Win The Working Class, but maybe when he’s focused and practical rather than hazy and meta he’ll be a better asset to American progressive politics and policy.

        • Lasker

          I actually phrased that badly, all evidence suggests he settled on this line himself rather than having it “assigned” to him.

          I think the way Sanders talked about winning the working class was often very clumsy. But his healthcare efforts are best understood not as a departure from that but as putting those ideas into action.

  • It’s quite amusing that the tangerine tyrant is saying he has as secret plan for universal, affordable health insurance which he will reveal as soon as Tom Price is confirmed. Obviously he’s just babbling, he has no idea what he’s talking about, but believe it or not there are still people who think he’s going to propose single payer national health care. Uh, no.

    Will people notice when this turns out to be total bullshit like everything else he’s ever said?

    • humanoid.panda

      but believe it or not there are still people who think he’s going to propose single payer national health care.

      I am very dubious that anyone believes that..

      • The head of the national nurses union does, for one.

        • MPAVictoria

          Maybe. Or maybe she is trying to use Trump’s election rhetoric to push him politically. Which is kinda her job.

          • Uh…no. If you read her statement you would see that she is both a) dumb as a post and b) a true believer.

            • she is both a) dumb as a post and b) a true believer.

              Doesn’t b)—at least, if not always, for the beliefs here in question—entail a)?

            • Jordan

              which statement?

            • MPAVictoria
              • Scott Lemieux

                “Instead of protesting repeal” Fuuuuuuck Yoouuuuuuuu.

                Bernie’s approach is right. DeMoro is a revolting clown.

                • tsam

                  let’s hold President-elect Donald Trump to his pledges on health care,

                  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

                  K

                • Rob in CT

                  I actually think that if she’d just dropped that one line (or modified it to “protesting repeal isn’t enough. Afterwards, we must…”).

                  But that one line is shit, it’s true.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  I’m not sure what’s dumber — the idea that Trump supports single-payer, or the idea that he could get Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to pass it.

                • tsam

                  I think dumbest is thinking that anyone is going to hold Trump to anything–campaign promise or not.

                • Rob in CT

                  Obviously!

                  However, viewed as political theatre, “holding Trump to his promise” makes some sense.

                  I mean, he promised all sorts of shit that ain’t gonna happen. So highlight that, day in and day out.

                  AND protest repeal.

        • Jordan

          link?

          Cause if you are talking about this, that is basically exactly what MPAVictoria was saying …

          • MPAVictoria

            Yeah pretty much.

      • witlesschum

        Pundits, man.

        • econoclast

          Can’t live with them, can’t burn them for warmth and light.

          • so-in-so

            try harder…

      • NeonTrotsky

        For what its worth the people over at RedState seem to think that

      • efgoldman

        I am very dubious that anyone believes that..

        The people who had no idea that repeal was on the table.
        No-information voters.

    • rea

      Will people notice when this turns out to be total bullshit like everything else he’s ever said?

      Who noticed when Nixon’x 1968 secret plan to end the war turned out to be, “wait until 1974”?

      • Oh, its like my secret plan to lose 50 pounds by my birthday? I am for sure going to do it by my birthday in six years.

        • Bill Murray

          I did that by getting deathly ill a couple months before my birthday. Turns out this was not a doctor recommended way to do this

      • howard

        actually, lots of people noticed that nixon’s “secret plan” was “up the bombing, reduce the troops,” which is why on the one hand the dems nominated mcgovern, a staunch anti-war candidate, and on the other hand, 60% of voters voted against the candidate of “acid, amnesty, and abortion” and in favor of the man with the secret plan.

        so i wouldn’t say it went unnoticed: by reducing american casualties, nixon took care of the people who didn’t really oppose the war, just didn’t want to see their own family members fight it, and that was enough….

        • rea

          Except the “secret plan” was ’68, when Nixon faced Humphrey, and tried to run to his left on the war. In ’72, when Nixon was running against McGovern, he negotiated with the North Vietnamese, his secretary of state announced that “peace is at hand,” and then the talks broke down once the election was over, leading to the Christmas bombing.

          • howard

            yes, i understand: my point is that the “secret plan” was executed starting in 1969: bombing was increased and troop withdrawals moved forward, and for many people that was good enough.

            for true anti-war types (me included), that wasn’t, which is what powered the ’72 mcgovern nomination (my first presidential vote, btw), but the 60-40 vote against “acid, amnesty, and abortion” made it pretty clear that the public, in fact, could live with nixon’s “secret plan.”

            in short, it wasn’t a phony, it was a real plan in the sense of it making a real difference in terms of the draft and american casualties….

  • I was at the rally in Boston yesterday. It was headlined by Warren and our beloved, floppy haired, also ran, junior senator Markey and our Mayor. It was well done but annoyingly vague. No one revved up the crowd in advance (no real MC), no one led any chants, no one asked us to text some number to collect our information, no one asked us to introduce ourselves to the people around us, or asked for shout outs from local towns (perhaps knowing that the majority of the attendees were from cambridge and brookline not framingham or lowell). There wasn’t any organizing done and we didn’t leave with any directions as to what to do next other than “share our stories.” I’m annoyed because if you get several thousand people out on a cold Sunday when they have other work to do –I know I did since classes start tomorrow and I’m already behind–you should leave them with a concrete task and a sense of shared experience, a token or a record and a job, no matter how small.

    • Rob in CT

      Doh.

    • DonnaK

      Interesting. I was at the much smaller (maybe 200 people) rally in Syracuse yesterday, and it was wonderfully loud and raucous, with drums and chants and colorful signs everywhere. The organizers provided all sorts of information to attendees, including passing out detailed flyers with names, contact info, websites, etc. It was small but very well done.

    • sharonT

      These are all good points about organizing and your report is a little disheartening. It’s a shame that Democratic leadership can’t find a way to make common cause with OFA. I’m sure that those skills and strategies are the basis of OFA’s toolkit.

  • ProgressiveLiberal

    I cant figure out whats going to happen when it comes time to release the plan. Is it

    A) they release one of their turd sammiches and trump tells you its surf and turf (pretends its 100% free coverage etc but it aint), then when everyone laughs at it and dems dont pass it he claims it would have been surf and turf but now we will never see

    B) they keep telling us the plan is coming for 2 years but of course it never is

    C) trump unveils a plan with no taxes, good coverage etc (just basically dumps it on the debt) and starts a war with repubs over it, but of course it never passes

    What other options are there with this moron continually talking about universal coverage, low deductibles, etc? We all know there is no magic plan but this fool keeps saying there is.

    • malraux

      The plan is SO GREAT, but the policy details are VERY COMPLEX, so we need to pass a repeal of Obamacare, which by the way is so so AWFUL. So we are going to repeal Obamacare now and pass a replace plan when we finish it and it will be SO WONDERFUL, you just won’t believe it.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        So B?

    • Rob in CT

      A seems most likely.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        Thats where i put the highest odds too…with C the least likely.

        • Rob in CT

          I mean, I figure there is also a chance of them gutting (but not repealing) the ACA by removing the mandate and (some of? all of?) the taxes they hate and then standing back and pointing a the Dems when those changes inevitably cause major problems.

          Would that work, politically? I honestly don’t know.

          • ProgressiveLiberal

            They have to take the subsidies with the taxes. Im positive all the taxes are gone. But will the exchanges remain standing? Medicaid is gone. But what will the parliamentarian rule they can destroy?

          • FlipYrWhig

            This is what I expect — basically crow about eliminating the mandate/penalty, then as the system becomes unworkable, saying this was what was bound to happen because stupid Obama wanted to give Those People welfare.

            • Rob in CT

              This is my fear, because I worry that this will work.

              • humanoid.panda

                If this works, it would be unprecedented, if only because the kind of voter this would appeal to would be convinced that Obamacare was long-ago repealed.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      Medicare For All – but it’s Paul Ryan’s Medicare, aka a worthless voucher to purchase unaffordable insurance.

      The Sandernistas and Jacobinites will hear “Medicare for All” and fall in love.

  • The chances of the ACA surviving depend a great deal on timing. If the fight drags out and more and more Republican Congressmen have to face the heat from their constituents, survival odds go up. If, on the other hand, Ryan and McConnell can jam a repeal through in the next couple of weeks, the furor will be masked by the furor over all the other hideous shit Trump is doing.

    The constant media circus that is Trump is going to go to 11 in the first days/weeks he has actual power. There will be *plenty* to be outraged about. That’s when the ACA is most vulnerable. If it makes it through that, I like its chances.

    • ProgressiveLiberal

      This is why they are in such a rush. They know its now or never. They have no plan to replace it but they dont care. Thats all bullshit to get the squishes on board. Once they kill it, its never coming back, and this is their only shot. They have to do it within a month.

      • humanoid.panda

        The problem with that is that they are talking about repeal +delay, which will keep the issue very much alive. I might be too much of a pessimist, but deleting health coverage for 20 million people with a few week’s notice, while destroying much of the health industry in the process, seems like a bridge too far even for these people. And if you pass repeal and delay, then the pressure to extend the delay begins.

        • ProgressiveLiberal

          I used to think that, but last week convinced me ryan/turtle know its now or never. There is no second bite at this apple and they are ramming it through over any objections. If they start pissing around, it stays, and they know it. Plus youre going to take the hit either way, might as well get what you want.

          • humanoid.panda

            So you figure they are passing a repeal with no delay?

            • ProgressiveLiberal

              I’m saying they wont wait to do a same day repeal/replace that would take 6 months cause they know that means never. I wouldnt put ut past them to delay some of it 2 years. But parts will be gone day one and itll take 60 votes to fix their mess, so its basically gone forever.

        • FlipYrWhig

          My cynical theory is this: they’ll make a big show of passing something that can be called repeal, because after all, the people who want it to be repealed think the only people benefiting from it are black, brown, hipsters and sluts. They want the _pageantry_ of having passed something that wrecks it; they don’t want to deal with the wreckage. Then, as with the Medicare “doc fix” for years, they’ll just keep passing some kludgy extension that keeps the status quo largely intact until they’re no longer in power, after which they’ll complain about whatever the Democrats want to do to fix it.

          • econoclast

            That actually would be pretty clever. They need to make the kludge sound really boring, though, like the “doc fix”.

            • humanoid.panda

              The problem with this method: the doc fix worked because Medicare is just too large of of a slice of the market for doctors and hospitals to credibly threaten to bolt it. The exchanges aren’t.

              • FlipYrWhig

                What if they just stuff insurance companies’ mouths with risk corridor payments?

                • humanoid.panda

                  According to people who know the math, the prospect of death spiral might be more powerful than even risk corridor $$$.

  • randy khan

    The odds of getting something not awful as a replacement are greatly increased if it becomes politically impossible for the Republicans to repeal without a replacement in place.

    Since this is the Martin Luther King holiday, it would be a fine commemoration to call and email your representatives and any potentially reachable Republicans in the Senate. Here’s a list with phone numbers that has been circulating on Facebook:

    Senator Bob Corker – (202) 224-3344
    Senator Lisa Murkowski – (202) 224-6665
    Senator Rob Portman – (202) 224-3353
    Senator Susan Collins – (202) 224-2523
    Senator Bill Cassidy – (202) 224-5824

    I’m not saying this list is definitive, but it’s a start. You might add Lamar Alexander to it if you’re in the mood, as he’s the chair of the HELP Committee, which has jurisdiction over the ACA. He’s at (202) 224-4944.

  • royko

    No. But Republican margins are narrow and there’s no way Republicans can get rid of the ACA that won’t be massively unpopular…

    This is true, but I think it’s also true that they risk facing a backlash from their base if they don’t do something about Obamacare. Sure, they don’t always deliver for the base, but I don’t see any excuses they can make for not repealing, and I don’t see any way they can symbolically repeal while keeping most of the system functional. I just think they made ACA too much of a focal point to let it stand. Also, it’s not clear there are enough adults left in the Republican caucus to do the smart thing anymore.

    • rea

      You would think that they’d be sensible enough to repeal, and reenact much the same thing, with a bit of tinkering, and a new name “Trumpcare”?). But wait a minute–“sensible”? Republicans?

      • randy khan

        There’s the Medicare Part D approach – re-adopt it without paying for it. That could work for a lot of Republicans.

    • Joe_JP

      Their messaging however is largely that — about how evil “Obamacare” is while various parts of it remain popular even with many of their base. But, these parts are not “Obamacare” which is as much trope as anything else.

      The legislation is a bunch of interrelated parts and various things they would do would screw it over. As Obama said in an article under his byline, they already have made its implementation harder by their actions.

      It would be important for even parts of it to be still there so there is something to work off when Democrats get back in power. Plus, such as retaining some form of the Medicaid expansion, it will for the time being protect many people, even if not as well as it should in an inefficient way.

    • jmauro

      I for one fully support a bill banning the use of the name “Obamacare” from every level of the government under some sort of penalty. Just the name though, the rest basically stays.

      That way the GOP and Trump can say they got rid of Obamacare, while leaving it virtually intact. It seems like the easiest win-win to me and with Trump on he TV saying he eliminated Obamacare the GOP base,will likely be placated.

      • Scott Lemieux

        But, as Dilan says, Obamacare is the only acceptable name for the statute. That’s the law, even if someone forgot to tell the United States Supreme Court.

        • N__B

          What about “TrumpImproved ObamaCare”…sort of like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?

    • FlipYrWhig

      The people who most want it gone think that only a rogue’s gallery of ungrateful moochers gets anything out of it anyway: it’s in the same mental compartment as “Obamaphones.” So all they really have to do is something that looks like it symbolically hurts and humiliates Those People, like when they talk about drug tests for food stamps.

    • Hogan

      they risk facing a backlash from their base if they don’t do aren’t seen to be doing something about Obamacare.

      FTFY

  • Rob in CT

    So I was reading this:

    http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a52292/house-republicans-obamacare-repeal/

    and…

    [Pierce]
    However, according to Congressman Smucker, the subsidy is the problem.[/Pierce]

    [Congressman fucker]
    Phyllis receives a federal subsidy that covers 35% of that monthly cost. She takes pride in the fact that she’s never taken a government handout in her life. Now that she’s on Obamacare, the American taxpayers have to subsidize her healthcare. (Ed. Note: also yours, Congressman.) To Phyllis, that’s not right. To Phyllis, this is about her pride and she’s not asking for a lot. She’s simply asking that she have access to affordable healthcare that doesn’t require the American taxpayers to help her pay for it.
    [/fucker]

    [Pierce]
    And that, not Meryl Streep, is how Donald Trump became president.

    I have no idea whether or not Smucker is making this whole thing up, but I do know that, if and when the ACA is finally chloroformed, Phyllis’ pride better be convertible into gold or hard cash money because she’s going to need it. And, as an American taxpayer, I’d like to tell Phyllis not to worry. She’s good for it.[/Pierce]

    It is not merely breaking eggs to make an omelette, it’s convincing the eggs to break themselves in order to aspire to omelettehood.

    • sibusisodan

      That’s amazing.

      she’s not asking for a lot. She’s simply asking that she have access to affordable healthcare that doesn’t require the American taxpayers to help her pay for it.

      She’s not asking for a lot. Just for the deity to create a rock so heavy he couldn’t lift it…

    • Bill Murray

      She takes pride in the fact that she’s never taken a government handout in her life

      so she has never taken a tax deduction or used a public road and was not educated in a public school? Seems unlikely

      • Rob in CT

        Handout, noun: anything that puts you in the same general category as The Poors and/or Those People, generating a feeling of intense shame.

        Thus, tax deductions and public schooling are not handouts. Nor is social security, or Medicare (but Medicaid is). Nor are farm subsidies. Nor is having a job that wouldn’t exist (or pay nearly as much if it did) without the MIC. And so on.

        • FlipYrWhig

          I don’t understand “shame.” Who gives a shit? Is it a Protestant thing or something?

          • Rob in CT

            Probably, at least in part.

            That pride/shame is quite useful for people who hate the welfare state (or the taxes that fund it, anyway), so it’s taken on a life of its own beyond its original roots, I think.

    • FlipYrWhig

      See, Phyllis isn’t asking for a handout, she’s just asking for the government to reduce the prices of things so that she can afford them, but to do it without her noticing.

      By the way, fuck Phyllis.

  • Buggy Ding Dong

    6 1/2 years later, Democrats figure out they have to MAKE this thing popular by not constantly shitting on it.

    They own it; it has accomplished real good. It IS an achievement. It is NOT the end goal. They should have been talking about this in the same vein as Medicare for the last 1/2 decade and talked about making it even better in the years ahead.

    Instead, they ran from it and hoped it would become popular, just because, even as the other side and their entire propaganda machine demonized it 24/7.

    Will Ds ever learn?

  • Nick never Nick

    This isn’t germane to the issue of organizing and resisting, it’s just my guess as to how things will play out. Personally, I think that they will manage to get something through quickly, that basically destroys Obamacare — it’ll be framed as setting the stage for a good replacement. I think that this policy is complicated enough that there will be at least one strut that can be knocked out, that will make everything collapse.

    Then, comes the scam — they will propose some ineffective, looting policy that will, in fact, manage to get some minimal insurance to people. It will be worse than Obamacare. It will transfer money up the chain. It will benefit insurance companies. It will reduce benefits. Passing it will depend on Democratic acquiescence — and Democrats will be framed as ‘preventing Obamacare improvement’ or simply ‘screwing Americans’ if they resist it.

    • humanoid.panda

      Passing it will depend on Democratic acquiescence — and Democrats will be framed as ‘preventing Obamacare improvement’ or simply ‘screwing Americans’ if they resist it.

      reply

      Just like the Democrats were framed for resisting Social Security privatization back in 2005? Those kinds of tricks are easy to pull when you are in opposition, and exponentially harder for the party in power.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yep, that doesn’t work. The party of the president gets blamed for everything.

        • humanoid.panda

          I think the lesson people took from the Obama years is not “president gets blamed for everything” but “Republicans are invincible beasts.”

  • Nick never Nick

    I feel like this period is kind of similar to getting an awful health diagnosis. You make drastic changes . . . exercising two hours a night! green algae milkshake! meditate! hot yoga! no more facebook!

    You have mood swings. Everything’s on track, taking control! Gonna die . . . Goddamn algae.

    Just remember that basically, Democrats have to be reactive. Sure, there’s no harm in planning, but just remember to counterpunch when an opportunity arises. If one lands, do it over and over again.

  • Denverite

    In related news, enjoy this Republican profile in courage.

    The failure of the Colorado Democrats to field a real challenger to Coffman is perplexing. They redrew his district to include some pretty populous Front Range suburbs (Aurora, especially) that should be amenable to electing a Democrat.

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