Home / Republican malgovernance / Q: Does Obamacare have a curse on it that turns all who try to overturn it into bumbling dimwits who can’t tell their ass from their elbow?

Q: Does Obamacare have a curse on it that turns all who try to overturn it into bumbling dimwits who can’t tell their ass from their elbow?


A: Of course not. They were already Republicans to begin with.

House Republicans barely managed to pass their Obamacare repeal bill earlier this month, and they now face the possibility of having to vote again on their controversial health measure.

House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t yet sent the bill to the Senate because there’s a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office estimates its effects. House leaders want to make sure the bill conforms with Senate rules for reconciliation, a mechanism that allows Senate Republicans to pass the bill with a simple majority.

Republicans had rushed to vote on the health bill so the Senate could get a quick start on it, even before the CBO had finished analyzing a series of last-minute changes. The CBO is expected to release an updated estimate next week.

The score for this part of the post should be the sound of Paul Ryan stepping on rakes, walking around with a metal bucket on one foot, falling down stairs and so on.

“Unaware,” said Representative Jeff Denham of California, with noticeable surprise Thursday, when advised that his party leaders still hadn’t sent the bill over to the Senate. Denham was one of the House Republicans who ended up voting for the measure, after earlier in the week opposing it.

“I am on the whip team and we have a lot of conversations, but we have not had that one. So I am going to look into it,” said Denham, a member of the party’s vote-counting team.

This part of the post should be scored to the sound of Ryan insisting he sent it ages ago while making that face that he thinks is sincere, but really makes him look like a bloodhound that’s planning to go for your neck.

According to several aides and other procedural experts, if Republicans send the bill to the Senate now and the CBO later concludes it doesn’t save at least $2 billion, it would doom the bill and Republicans would have to start their repeal effort all over with a new budget resolution. Congressional rules would likely prevent Republicans from fixing the bill after it’s in the Senate, the aides said.

If Republican leaders hold onto the bill until the CBO report is released, then Ryan and his team could still redo it if necessary. That would require at least one more House vote of some sort.

I think it safe to say that if Lyin’ Ryan has to tell his party they have to vote on the AHCA again, House Republicans will hold a raffle. The grand prize will be the ability to chuck him in the Potomac with a dozen life-sized bronze busts of Reagan tied to his feet. Second prize winner gets to unleash the snakeheads.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Thursday that the delay is further proof that Republicans voted for this bill “before they knew what was in it.”

The speaker and other Republicans urgently pushed their May 4 floor vote, despite a polarized Republican conference, using the frantic final hours to win over holdouts. Even so, 20 Republicans still voted against the bill. After the bill squeaked through, Ryan and other senior Republicans dashed to the White House for an unusual celebration of a one-chamber vote.

Grotesque and stupid is not spelled u-n-u-s-u-a-l.

That 217-213 tally appeared to be a rare legislative victory for them and President Donald Trump, even if the vote was a difficult one for some rank-and-file House Republicans, who had qualms. Some have since been hit with protests in their districts and anger from constituents.

Now, two weeks later, the American Health Care Act, H.R. 1628, hasn’t been transmitted from the House to the Senate, according to Senate Bill Clerk Sara Schwartzman.

Apparently the Senate is experiencing a dearth of fucks about this bill and has not asked for it.

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  • nemdam

    This. Is. Awesome.

    But this is too good to be true, right? The same week the dam may finally be starting to burst on Trump, the House vote on Trumpcare may essentially be nullified? Is this the week a small ray of light has emerged amidst the darkness?

    I almost never drink, but I will be pouring an adult beverage if this is indeed what happens.

    • Hogan

      I’ve seen no evidence that God loves me that much, but, y’know, God, so who the hell knows?

    • alexceres

      Definitely too good to be true. They left a large buffer since the whole point is tax cuts for the wealthy.

      But that Ryan hasn’t sent it in 2 weeks shows they’re at least concerned they might have fucked up. I’ll drink to that. Anything that keeps these evil weasels awake at night …

  • Marcion

    ahahahaha. ahaaahahahaha. bwaaaahahahaha

  • randy khan

    Who would have thought that superwonk Paul Ryan could overlook such a crucial detail?

    • humanoid.panda

      In Galt’s Gulch, superman such as he are not restrained by second-handers’ reconciliation instructions.

      • DrDick

        Or reality.

      • Sly

        What, they didn’t bring an inexhaustible labor force of robotic staffers to handle these kinds of things?

  • brad

    Is it legal for me to marry this report, and if so, in which states?

    • Just_Dropping_By

      All of ’em, Katie.

  • sibusisodan

    Seriously: cargo cult government.

    Even Gingrich ran a tighter ship than this, no?

    • sigaba

      Gingrich actually wanted to pass laws. These guys just want to keep Sean Hannity from eating their faces.

      (You just know Rand Paul is behind the story.)

      • These guys just want to keep Sean Hannity from eating their faces.

        Then why did they joint the “Sean Hannity Eating People’s Faces Party”?

        • sigaba


        • addicted44

          Economic anxiety.

      • Dilan Esper

        Gingrich actually wanted to pass laws.

        I actually get a bit mad when I see people blaming Gingrich for the current Republican Party.

        Not because he doesn’t deserve his share of blame. He certainly created the template for ridiculous bomb-throwing backbenchers, for instance. And he legitimized the government shutdown as a negotiating tactic.

        Nontheless, for the reason you state here, he was literally NOTHING like the current group of Republicans. Gingrich came up with a 10 point agenda (the Contract with America), ran on it, won a midterm election, passed some of it, and then negotiated all sorts of things from welfare reform to balanced budgets with Bill Clinton. You don’t have to like him or what he stood for, but he was a skilled legislator who could deliver votes and make deals, and he had a pretty good understanding of the details of public policy.

        The current congressional Republicans literally share nothing with Newt Gingrich other than the (R).

        • efgoldman

          The current congressional Republicans literally share nothing with Newt Gingrich other than the (R).

          He’s still a schmuck.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          this is like saying Nixon was a liberal for signing bills when he knew a veto would be overridden. For the most part Gingrich led holdovers from the more bipartisan “good old days” and he could only get so far ahead of them. The current Rs are exactly what he wanted to create and they are chock full of his political DNA

          • Dilan Esper

            This is fundamentally wrong. The tell on who Gingrich really was is the incident involving the plane and Clinton.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              nah, that’s just human interest

              • Hondo

                Dilan’s got a poster of Gingrich wearing a speedo in his bedroom right next to the poster of Farrah.

                • Pseudonym

                  Farrah Maureen Dowd

        • Chieroscuro

          I can certainly agree that for Gingrich, ‘No Democrat President is a legitimate president’ was a negotiating position, that has subsequently become a gospel.

        • Pseudonym

          Au contraire, I imagine the current congressional Republicans share a lot with the current Newt Gingrich.

        • njorl

          Gingrich cultivated the tactic of the crowd of uncontrollable howler monkeys. He used them as a negotiating tool. They had to be satisfied on certain points, and he couldn’t negotiate with them.

          He cultivated the idea that personal weakness in leadership was a useful negotiating stance for Republicans. That is absolutely integral to the situation we are in now. It’s true, Gingrich wouldn’t approve of the situation going as far as it has, but that doesn’t mean shit. He approved of jumping off the cliff, he just thinks falling all the way to the bottom was a bad move.

    • Sly

      My favorite story about Gingrich, which I think I got from a David Frum anecdote, is that his entire push for colonizing space is based on his belief that it will produce a political windfall for Republicans because of the popularity of the Star Wars movies.

      The man is dumb. Just sayin’.

      • Pseudonym

        Higher intelligence wasn’t evolutionarily advantageous when hunting giraffes.

      • NonyNony

        The man is dumb.

        Some would say “the man has a PhD in History, of course he isn’t dumb”.

        I would argue back – “you don’t know many PhD’s, do you?”

        (His PhD is often held up as an example of how he can’t be a stupid man. But all a PhD indicates in isolation is that you are very informed at a single, very specialized pool of knowledge. A PhD combined with respected research in your field says something more, but I’ve known some PhDs in my time who were rock stupid about anything that wasn’t their direct specialization – in some cases they were ignorant of things in their own field that weren’t really important for their own specialization. And yet they’d insist on pontificating about them anyway…)

  • humanoid.panda

    Props for the music choice! I was certain I was I was the only LGM participant who is a fan of VNV Nation (and really, their output is just perfect accompaniment to the Trump era).

    • A consistently great band.

    • Mike G

      The Benny Hill ‘Yackety Sax’ music would also do nicely.

  • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

    Do any of you sincere, hangdog, wonkiest wonks who ever wonked have any clue if the CBO score will doom this? It seems pretty simple for the bill to save 2 billion, right? Doesn’t it cut medicare by like 80 billion?

    • Denverite

      Medicaid, and by 800+ billion.

    • humanoid.panda

      The new version of the bill allows states to waive regulations on what’s inside insurance plans. It also provides a refundable 3,000 dollar credit for anyone who purchases insurance. It’s extremely easy to imagine that insurance companies craft products that cost exactly 3,000 dollars, cover nothing, and are marketed for young and healthy people. The previous version of this bill had 150 billion in savings. If 5 million people take those minimal plans, here go 150 billion over 10 ten years. And the best part: CBO already said it won’t count mini-med plans as insurance. So, its plausible they don’t save money and don’t insure any people.

      • howard

        i suspect the difficulty in modeling which states might waive regulations has been why this analysis is taking much longer than the first one did, but i have little doubt that the score will be terrible.

        p.s. they are cutting medicaid spending but they are also cutting taxes.

        • djw

          I’ve asking around in wonky circles if anyone knows anything about how the CBO goes about estimating futue state government behavior. Anyone here know anything?

          • JKTH

            It’s hard to say, but they could use whether a state has expanded Medicaid or not as guidance to whether they would opt out. They had also made an analysis of the Roberts re-write of the Medicaid expansion that made assumptions about which states would expand and could use that.

    • NonyNony

      Let’s put it this way – if Paul Ryan knew what the effects would be, he would have sent it already. The fact that this is even a potential issue says that he isn’t confident of its effects.

    • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

      Thanks all for the responses. I will take a moment to enjoy the rake-stepping.

  • Scott Mc

    Is the bill really likely to NOT save $2B? Is that in one year? 10 years?

    • John F

      Is this a serious question? Of course it’s not likely to save $2B or $1b or even be revenue neutral, it’s going to cost the only question is how much.

      If you mean how the CBO is gonna score it? That’s a closer call.

      • Pseudonym

        Is the CBO currently using the GOP’s voodoo economics dynamic scoring?

  • JDM

    Who would ever have thought that sending a bunch of people to Congress who campaign on the idea that government cannot and should not work, and who often have little or no experience, could result in something like this? Puzzlement.

    • efgoldman

      Who would ever have thought that sending a bunch of people to Congress who campaign on the idea that government cannot and should not work, and who often have little or no experience, could result in something like this?

      I said earlier: Granny Starver, the worst, weakest, least competent speaker ever, is as bad at speakering as Orange Outrage, the worst, weakest, least competent president ever, is at presidenting.

      • Pseudonym

        AFAIK Ryan hasn’t molested any teenaged boys… yet…

        • efgoldman

          Ryan hasn’t molested any teenaged boys… yet…

          Still absolutely objectively terrible and unqualified for the job.
          Someplace, Sam Rayburn is alternately spinning in his grave and laughing.

          And we don’t now that for an absolute fact.

  • Bitter Scribe

    Call me a pessimist, but it scares the shit out of me that the only thing standing between me and a $750 a month bill for health insurance is the incompetence of these fuckheads.

    • Brautigan

      Silly Wabbit.

      It’s so adorable that you think you will be able to get anything resembling actual medical insurance for $750/month.

    • Thom

      It is standing between me and the possibility of not being able to get insurance at any price.

  • Craigo

    We’re probably another Trump revelation or two away from the Senate GOP conference repealing reconciliation rules.

    • NonyNony

      Senate has to get something to reconcile first. Right now, the opposition is the incompetence of Paul Ryan, we haven’t even reached the point where the minority party is stopping their agenda.

    • John F

      Why? Do you think Yertle serious want the ability to pass this turd with 51 votes? He wants the Dems to filibuster.

      GOP’s problem:

      1. The bill is a turd, if sent to the Senate as is, it can’t be passed as a reconciliation item, and Dems can filibuster. Yertle would probably prefer that, much of the GOP as well, blame the Dems (and avoid getting blamed when millions start losing coverage)

      2. Ryan (and others) really really really want those tax cuts.

      The GOP has a Gordian knot problem- they really really really want those tax cuts and the only way to fund them is by running huge deficits and cutting folks off from health insurance (and other things)- they are willing to run those deficits- but actually taking things away from their own voters makes many of them squeamish.

      The base believes that all the tax cuts can be funded by cutting off entitlements to brown colored folks and cutting waste and fraud. The actual facts are:

      1. There isn’t nearly as much “waste and fraud” as these people believe. The RWNJ who thinks you can balance the budget simply by urine testing food stamp recipients is simply delusional.
      2. There isn’t a “Constitutional” way to cut off entitlement money to those “undeserving” poor while not touching any money going to the deserving (white) recipients.

      A lot of GOP voters only seem willing to lose health insurance in order to deny it to blacks/hispanics/etc., but when they actually personally lose something they will be enraged.

      • Craigo

        Yes. It’s a mistake to think that the “base” is in any way a variable in this situation. The average Trump voter in, say, West Virginia both benefited from the ACA and voted enthusiastically to gut it. By 2018 and 2020 he will have long forgotten that the AHCA kicked he and his family off Medicaid and dumped them into a high-risk pool with five figure premiums and no annual or lifetime caps, if he was ever aware of the true reason.

        But the real base will fondly remember the massive tax cut they received.

        • Colin Day

          Annual or lifetime caps on coverage, or premiums?

        • so-in-so

          Tax cut they are told they received. Most of the base will get squat.

      • Sly

        Why? Do you think Yertle serious want the ability to pass this turd with 51 votes? He wants the Dems to filibuster.

        Eh… that’s still a shit sandwich for Republicans. GOP House members are on the hook for voting for this turd, Senate Democrats get to take credit for killing it (in a critical election year for them), and the Republican dream of killing poor people for fun and profit is further delayed.

        Plus its not like the administration is being coy about fucking over those insured on the exchanges, and if McConnell knows anything its that people always blame the President when shit goes south.

        • efgoldman

          if McConnell knows anything its that people always blame the President when shit goes south.

          Sure, but they take it out on the president’s party in midterms.

      • Pseudonym

        Yertle gets ousted and then primaried by the Kochsuckers (yes I know it’s not pronounced like that) if he doesn’t pass this massive tax cut for the rich.

        • efgoldman

          Yertle gets ousted and then primaried

          Nope. His seat is absolutely safe if he wants to keep it. He knows where every body is buried, every skeleton in the closet, every vote that can be used against somebody, in Kentucky.
          He may decide to retire anyway -he’ll be I thin 78 in 2020, and may be vulnerable in one or another of Mueller’s investigations.

          • Pseudonym

            Maybe not primaried, then, but ousted as majority leader? And if Mueller’s investigations can turn up dirt so can others’.

            • djw

              No chance in hell senate Republicans take out McConnell.

              • Pat

                Seconded. I expect that he leaves the job of Republican Senate leader on a stretcher, to be taken to the morgue.

                The man will not willingly cede power. Not McConnell.

  • gyrfalcon

    Y’know, while I appreciate the basic substance behind the article, I have to take exception to the following quote:

    Republicans had rushed to vote on the health bill so the Senate could get a quick start on it, even before the CBO had finished analyzing a series of last-minute changes.

    The ZEGS didn’t particularly care about a ‘quick start’ on anything; he rushed the vote because he was frickin’ terrified of the CBO analysis and the potential it had for implanting some resemblance of a spine in another three dozen Tuesday Caucus members. Man’s a soulless hypocritical gutterslime.

    • JKTH

      It’s a transparently stupid excuse since the Senate is gonna do their own bill anyway.

    • Aaron Morrow


      Also, the final bill needs to be signed before October 1, when the FY17 reconciliation instructions expire. Ryan hopes to use the FY18 reconciliation instructions for tax cuts (more tax cuts, anyway) against the new, lower baseline.

  • Karen24

    If this does work out for the best — and that appears to me to be a plausible scenario — then we have to press the advantage. I have said repeatedly that we have to pressure all Dem officeholders to release their Inner Bastards and shiv the Republicans every chance they can. Authoritarians only respond to being humiliated and we have to humiliate them like they’re pimply nerds and we’re the football team.

    • Thom

      Ha, spoken like someone who grew up where sports was king (and makes me think of Dazed and Confused).

      • The Dark God of Time

        She is a native Texan, although exactly where in the state she resides I’m not sure.

      • Pat

        Here’s what I envision.

        “Trump? You know he’s being paid by the Russians, right? Why do you think you’ve never seen his tax returns? The Russians got to him before the election, and they still pay him now while he’s president. All the Republican party leaders knew it too, even at the time. They kept it hush-hush, you can believe it. Heck, people’ve got the party leaders on tape talking about it. At the time. And like it or not, the Russians have never been our friends.

        Trump says all the right things, but he always gives the Russians whatever they want. Always. Because they’re paying him. About your representative? He votes with Trump, like, 98% of the time. So as far as the Russians are concerned, your guy is a freebie.

        America should be run for Americans. These Republicans are on the Russian dole – they don’t care about you. They don’t care about your nephew who’s hooked on drugs, and they don’t care that health insurance has gone into the crapper. They’re not doing a damn thing to help after the recent floods. Why the hell are you voting for them again?”

    • Hondo

      That won’t work. It’s not possible to humiliate them in the eyes of their base. Have you ever tried to talk to one of them?

      • so-in-so

        And they have proven they can’t be humiliated with regard to anyone else, either. They simply have no sense of it. Some do, in fact, calculate that this or that might hinder re-election if they aren’t in a safe zone (or might be primaried from the right), but that is as close to a sense of humiliation as we have seen from the majority of them.

        Maybe an orange jump suit provides humiliation, but I’m not sure even then. More like martyrdom.

      • Pat

        Hope springs eternal, Hondo. If you’re certain they’ll never listen, you’ve lost them anyway.

    • mongolia

      is that really a good idea? the concern would be that if dems take the fight hard to r’s, then they can fall back into their default ideology of “opposing democrats,” instead of having them flail around incoherently while the base is pissed off about how obamacare isn’t repealed and the reports on the leaderships collusion with russia keeps getting out there. could be the best way of letting the various parts of the party split, since the dems are not involved in it in really anyway which might help shift swing voters to dem or lean-r voters to not show up in ’18.

      • Pseudonym

        Voters have to be hit over the head (metaphorically of course since justifiable cranial realignment is a preexisting condition under the AHCA) with the fact that their insurance is skyrocketing or being withdrawn because of the Republican bill, not because of Obamacare.

      • njorl

        You have to try to sell it as helping voters deal with the betrayal by the people they elected. You need candidates who are one of them, but Democrats. You can’t sell it on a national level, it has to be local. And you can’t treat the betrayed like rubes who got took – you have to sell it as reasonable people betrayed by unreasonable levels of deciept.

  • nasser

    The score for this part of the post should be the sound of Paul Ryan stepping on rakes, walking around with a metal bucket on one foot, falling down stairs and so on.

    This is amazing. Are we sure that Paul Ryan isn’t being played by Ben Stiller?

    • Dennis Orphen

      Never go full Ryan. Come to think of it, never go even a little bit Ryan ever.

  • John Revolta

    Does anyone know the reason for this $2 billion threshold? Article seems to imply that it has to do with the rules of reconciliation but it’s not clear

    • Craigo

      Normal reconciliation rules require deficit reduction of 1 billion per fiscal year per topic, but I think the threshhold was doubled for health care legislation earlier this year.

      • John Revolta

        Thank you!

  • gratuitous

    That taste in your mouth, congressional Republicans? It’s ashes. That’s what’s left of your premature celebration. But boy, you sure gave President Trump a badly needed victory, didn’t you? Laid your careers on the line and everything so that Trump could get his administration back on track. That was sure worthwhile, wasn’t it?

  • nuvo2965

    I hear gratuitous’ comment in the “Morty” voice (Rick and Morty) in my head…

    • CraigMcMahon

      Nuvo, the referenced comment was already good, but in Morty’s voice it’s truly magnificent. It’s like finding a cover version of a song you like better than the original.

  • cpinva

    “Q: Does Obamacare have a curse on it that turns all who try to overturn it into bumbling dimwits who can’t tell their ass from their elbow?”

    “A: Of course not. They were already Republicans to begin with.”

    but you repeat yourself.

  • daves09

    OT but this is bugging me.
    What is with this McGahn guy at the WH?
    I know his title but he seems a strange fellow, a black hole of information.
    Yates tells him Flynn is hinky dink. His response is to ask her why Justice cares about WH people lying to each other. And that’s the end of that.
    Flynn tells him that he, Flynn, is under investigation. According to the WH he, McGahn, never shared that with anyone, including Pence.
    Enter joke here about keeping his own counsel, but do any of you lawyer types have an idea what’s going on?

    • so-in-so

      Sounds like exactly the kinda guy Dump would want. Not the kind he needs in that position, but what he wants.

  • daves09

    Ryan had 20 years in the House; & years in the majority; 2 years as Speaker and managed to come up with nothing substantive. Not on ACA, not on taxes-nothing but psychobabble about what a deeply principled wonk he is. Did I mention his selfless devotion as an international man of seriousity?
    The man is a sham, a flim flam, a fraud and terrible at everything except self promotion.
    I know he’s the worst speaker of this century and probably of all time. He has single handedly made the speaker-at least republican speakers-irrelevant.
    OT-Cillizza apparently really believes that VPs are the second most powerful person in US gov’t. THe depth of his ignorance never fails to amaze.

    • Pseudonym

      Cillizza believes, as a nothing-but-objective impartial observer mind you, that it’s very important that Hillary Clinton take personal responsibility for the entirety of the results of the 2016 presidential election with not a single other factor influencing it, because otherwise he’d lose his erection reasons.

  • nobody

    Ryan has the votes to just fire the current CBO director and install, say, Mick Mulvaney in his place. Then Mulvaney, or someone similar, could just re-evaluate the AHCA in their new bogus CBO report in the most favorable light.

    Problem solved.

  • Souris Grise

    They do know beer is readily available in many of their favourite retail outlets, don’t they? This seems like an extraordinary amount of work (and not work) to stick the government with their bar tab. Then, again, I think we can all understand. Those Republican parties are not to be missed, huh?

    • Pseudonym

      Beer doesn’t taste nearly as good if the unworthy (and you know who I mean) are ever allowed to partake in it as well.

  • JohnT

    Apparently the Senate is experiencing a dearth of fucks about this bill and has not asked for it.

    When one is suspended above a huge pool of shit, it does not pay to say ‘please drop me in.’

  • Thrax

    I am concerned. If the CBO spikes the House bill for failing to comply with reconciliation rules, something that Ryan could have known had he waited for a CBO score, that would cause me to laugh uncontrollably for days, perhaps weeks. It is difficult to eat or sleep while laughing uncontrollably, so that would adversely affect my health.

    GOP health care legislation: a threat to my health on so many levels.

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