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No Vote on TrumpCare In June

[ 294 ] June 27, 2017 |

This really is important:

Facing a rebellion within their own ranks, Senate Republican leaders on Tuesday postponed a vote to overhaul the 2010 Affordable Care Act until after the July 4 recess.

The delay, which came after five Senate Republicans said they could not support a move to bring up the bill this week in the wake of a new budget analysis of its impacts, means that lawmakers will be exposed to a barrage of lobbying in their home states in the coming days. The current proposal by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), which would make deep cuts to the Medicaid program while rolling back many of the existing law’s insurance mandates and tax increases, has come under attack from both the left and right.

The war is far from over. But what’s significant about this is that it shows the conflict within the Republican conference isn’t just kabuki. In itself, delay is bad for Republicans — if McConnell had the votes, they’d be voting. This doesn’t mean he can’t get them — he might — but he doesn’t have them now. The pressure needs to be kept up.

The complete inability of the Republicans to do policy might actually save the ACA. I assume McConnell and the rest of the Gang of 13 expected to backload enough cuts to get the CBO uninsured number under 20 million, and using this to get the media to use the House bill rather than the status quo as a baseline, and presto a “the Senate bill is much less mean!” narrative. But the numbers were so close they couldn’t do that. If the arguments being made by conservative “intellectuals” are any indication,  they genuinely don’t seem to understand that poor people don’t have any money and hence aren’t going to buy and maintain plans with insanely high deductibles.

Again, it’s entirely possible that the same process that played out with AHCA will play out here. But passage is not inevitable — it’s a fight that can be won.

 

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  • No vote in June… unless Mitch decides to have a secret vote at 2 a.m. on Thursday so I sure hope the Democrats are watching for shit like that…

    • CP

      True.

      You cannot take your eyes off these people for an instant, which, appropriately enough, also describes the way private citizens interact (or should) with health insurance company.

      • humanoid.panda

        Important to note that unlike the House, Senate can’t do a single vote: have to have motion to proceed, followed by twenty hours of debate.

      • ColBatGuano

        Seems like a bunch of Republican senators have suddenly discovered they don’t like the bill. Not sure they can turn around right now and vote for it. In two weeks? Sure.

    • tsam

      I don’t think there’s a damn thing the Democrats can do about that if the Republicans have the votes.

    • twbb

      That’s not how the Senate works. That’s not even how the House works.

  • LeeEsq

    There are at least five Republican Senators that do have some qualms about voting for such an evil tax cuts disguised as healthcare reform bill. The entire Democratic caucus in the Senate is against the bill. McConnell. The Republican Senators holdouts are only going to vote for a less evil bill. There isn’t much that McConnell can do to make the bill less evil without jeopardizing the important tax cuts.

    • CP

      The Republican Senators holdouts are only going to vote for a less evil bill.

      Are we sure of that? None of them is on the “this bill is not evil enough!” bandwagon, then?

      • HowardBannister

        Several of them seem to be hiding behind procedural concerns. “This just isn’t enough time to evaluate the bill!” And we still seem to split between Collins and Paul.

        We need constant and escalating pressure.

      • LeeEsq

        From a political standpoint, yes. They might not have any personal problem with the bill as it is or even a more evil one but most of the five holdouts recognize that voters hate this bill. They know that making it law will lead to political blood getting spilled.

        It might be best if there were three too evil Senators and two not evil enough Senators. McConnell would have an even harder time squaring the circle.

        • efgoldman

          They know that making it law will lead to political blood getting spilled.

          Meanwhile, the house RWNJs who went out on a limb for the second vote, now find the senate with a chain saw. I doubt the reps appreciate it.

          • twbb

            I’m sure a lot of them are relieved.

        • Matt McIrvin

          A lot of their base is going to revolt if they don’t pass it, though, because they may like having health insurance but they know Obamacare is evil. The Facebook threads on this are filled with conservatives who are absolutely livid that the pissant Republicans couldn’t just repeal Obamacare entirely and let the chips fall where they may. It’s the flip side of the single-payer-or-bust brigade.

      • SatanicPanic

        Rand Paul’s is frantically waving, hoping to draw someone’s, anyone’s, attention

      • randy khan

        Portman just told a reporter he was against the bill, and I presume he was on the “needs to be less evil” side.

        • catclub

          Wasn’t he on the secret committee that wrote the bill?

          • randy khan

            I’m beginning to wonder how many of the Gang of 13 actually had anything to do with it.

            • rea

              Cruz and Paul on the other hand, need the bill to be more evil before they can support it.

            • Pete

              One of the 13 (forget who) said to a reporter last week that he had no idea what the bill would look like because, after a couple of meetings, McConnell and a few aides began drafting and redrafting in secret.

              • I saw that as well, though I also don’t remember which of the thirteen it was (it may actually have been Portman, though I don’t think so). I’m pretty sure it was mentioned on Seth Meyers’ show (may have been on Colbert’s as well).

              • FlipYrWhig

                It may have been Mike Lee, who recorded a video saying that he too was frustrated not to know what was going on with the bill… that he was supposedly writing. But I think I read that Crazy Pat Toomey was one of the primary architects.

              • msobel

                Senator Cory Gardner (R CO) said, (and I’m paraphrasing) “Golly Miss Scarlet, I don’t know nothing about birthing babies.”

                It will turn out that Gardner will deny any part in taking away healthcare from a quarter of a million Coloradans. (https://twitter.com/marcsobel/status/879854430513844226).

                When he’s not claiming credit for killing KenyanCare on Wing Radio or in closed fund raisers.

                Luckily, for him, a Republican first principle is that they are never responsible for anything they can’t lie about not being disastrous.

    • SIS1

      Three of the hold outs are in the “this bill still spends way to much federal money granting a new entitlement!” camp.

      • efgoldman

        Three of the hold outs are in the “this bill still spends way to much federal money granting a new entitlement!” camp.

        Don’t care how evil they are, or how malign their “reasoning”. No means no.

        • rea

          Don’t care how evil they are, or how malign their “reasoning”. No means no.

          Up to a point. But if 3 holdouts need to be appeased, and there are 3 holdouts in the “needs more evil” camp . . .

        • Hondo

          You can’t change your mind and say no after initial penetration.

      • tsam

        That’s easy enough to fix. It’s the Susan Collins type holdouts that are going to be difficult to sway. Not enough of them, unfortunately

        • wengler

          There seem to be three. Collins, Heller and Murkowski. Two of them don’t really have to play the same game as the rest of the Republicans and Heller might be toast either way.

  • Yes, I eagerly await hearing how bumping 19,999,999 people off of health insurance is so much more compassionate that 22 million.

    • brewmn

      What are you talking about? It’s THREE MILLION TIMES less meaner!

    • dogboy

      This morning a Senator from Wisconsin was on the radio saying that it wasn’t fair to count all those people as being “thrown off” insurance, since nearly all of them were only on insurance b/c they were forced to by ACA.

      Seriously, they are trying to find any way to muddy the waters with this.

      • Mellano

        The amazing thing is that Johnson took a “no vote” position very early after McConnell’s bill came out, on the grounds that voting this week doesn’t give everyone enough time to understand the legislation.

        It’s one thing to hold out for more a ruthless bill, but this makes it sound like he believes that repeating a bunch of transparent talking points will convince people who aren’t already frothing at the mouth.

        • For such a dimwitted weasel, Johnson is taking a surprisingly maximalist position here: he’s arguing for a straight repeal to the status quo ante. Even Paul hasn’t been that specific.

          I think part of the problem is that Paul/Johnson/Cruz etc. are less excited by the Medicaid cuts than McConnell and Ryan hoped they would be. It’s not that they don’t want to cut Medicaid, but I think they’d be satisfied waiting for tax ‘reform’ to do so. They want to get rid of the subsidy structure and the coverage regulations, period.

      • rea

        This morning a Senator from Wisconsin

        Speaker Ryan

        • Schadenboner

          Doo-ron-ron Johnson, he of the “Russ Feingold-stein-berg isn’t a real American like I am!” ads. Motherfucker.

      • Matt McIrvin

        That is absolutely their position: the people who got insurance because of the ACA were all forced onto it against their will. I think part of what allows them to do this is the popular identification of “Obamacare” with the exchanges and the mandate, and not the Medicaid expansion–when the Medicaid expansion is the main thing they’re killing, and more than reversing.

  • humanoid.panda

    Two points:
    1. My (totally uninformed) guess is that Heller is what drove the bus into a ditch: the original plan was to let Collins and Paul to maintain their brands and vote no, and he totally disrupted it.
    2. While my money is still on McConnell jamming this somehow, he faces a tougher task than Ryan: Ryan could tell wavering mnembers that they are voting to kick the ball to the Senate, while here the vote is the vote.

    • CP

      I suppose McConnell can always try telling his caucus that they’re voting to kick the ball to the President, who might veto it.

      ETA: that was mostly a joke, but with this caucus, who the fuck knows.

      • humanoid.panda

        I feel like that one of the problem that McConnell faces is that the number of total morons that can be swayed by a screening of Braveheart is much lower in the Senate than in the House.

        • Colin Day

          We will take away your health, but we’ll never take away your FREEDOM!!

      • John F

        ” but with this caucus, who the fuck knows.”

        But with this POTUS, who the fuck knows.

        Seriously, loyalty, personal/party/country, it’s a one way street with him. GOP Congress-critters are loyal to Trump because he’s the GOP President, period full stop. Trump is loyal to himself, sure he’s likely to sign anything the GOP Congress passes, but he’s nothing if not erratic. The odds of him deciding/be persuaded that:
        1. He didn’t campaign on cutting medicaid;
        2. This is a bait and switch by those nefarious Establishment Repubs intended to hurt him:

        Is not zero.

        “I suppose McConnell can always try telling his caucus that they’re voting to kick the ball to the President, who might veto it.”
        Actually McConnell wouldn’t dare suggest that, even as a joke- there is a worse option for the average GOP Congress Critter than the binary we’ve been looking at:

        A. Don’t pass anything
        B. Pass a piece of shit

        there’s C. Pass a piece of shit and have Trump publicly stab you in the back and veto it for being “mean” or not what he campaigned on.

        • CP

          2. This is a bait and switch by those nefarious Establishment Repubs intended to hurt him:

          If I were in any position where I had access to him, I’d be whispering exactly that in his ear every chance I got.

          “They’re using you. They’re trying to play you for a fool. They’re going to hand you the biggest shit sandwich in history, and as soon as you’ve signed it and they don’t need you anymore, they’re going to make you the fall guy. Why do you think they haven’t been able to muzzle this Russia investigation yet? Because they don’t want to! They’re just stalling it until you’ve signed everything they want from you, and then they’re going to steamroll you! Unless you strike first and you have the people on your side, and what better way than by throwing this epically unpopular bill back in their faces?”

          • NonyNony

            Make a Twitter account and tweet it at him. He seems to listen to randos on Twitter as much as anyone else.

            • smartalek

              But make sure you have a username that will demonstrate that you are both a credible respondent and worthy of his time and attention.
              For instance, “TrumpIsGod” would clearly not nearly fill the bill.
              “TrumpIsGreaterThanGod” would be a small step in the right direction.
              See?

            • This actually strikes me as having a non-zero chance of working.

        • SatanicPanic

          It helps that he’s telegraphing that he’d do exactly that if it were in his best interest to.

      • JKTH

        Or that they’re sending it to conference, where it will be made much better. They’d have to be incredibly stupid to believe that, but incredibly stupid isn’t the barrier it used to be.

      • Gabriel Ratchet

        Well, there’s a nontrivial chance Trump could just wander out of the room after forgetting to sign it, but actually relying on him doing anything is probably too risky a proposition.

        • Zagarna_84

          Pedantic observation: This would not actually work unless they recessed immediately afterwards to “allow” his failure to sign the bill to work a pocket veto. Ordinarily, unsigned bills become law by default.

    • No Longer Middle Aged Man

      I read that Pence is the White House point man for whipping support in the Senate, in part because someone told Trump to stay away. Pence comes across like a flat out dope — he recites the talking points in his bloviating way like he really believes them. Given the high proportion of cynics and opportunists in the Republican Senate caucus, and the fact that Pence’s balls live in Trump’s pocket, I can’t imagine many either respect or fear Pence.

      • John Revolta

        I dunno though- what if he gives ’em that steely-eyed glare he gave to the North Koreans? Oooooo.

        • CP

          Indeed, we saw how thoroughly that worked on the North Koreans. (I’m expecting reunification on ROK terms any day now).

        • rea

          As we speak, a carrier battle group is steaming towards Australia. Take that, Libtards!

      • howard

        i totally believe that after trump demonstrated his awesome negotiating skills on the house version, mcconnell said no way, no chance, no how does he enter into these discussions.

        • Pete

          It’s true that Senators are even less likely than Representatives to be impressed by “You have to do X.”

      • Pete

        Pence is not a very smart man, and that is widely known.

  • Dilan Esper

    I’ve been wrong all along on my predictions about health care reform, so take this with the grain of salt it deserves, but I agree with Kevin Drum, who says time is not on McConnell’s side. Not voting until after a recess means Republican Senators are going to hear it from constituents, which makes it more likely that MORE of them will come out in opposition and not less. I’m starting to think this is dead (and that would be a major blow to McConnell, who wouldn’t have taken the House bill up if he didn’t think he could pass something).

    • petesh

      I agree that the situation has developed not necessarily to McConnell’s advantage, but I think he’s already started to adjust and he may focus on the important and difficult task of getting Trump to stop messing things up by reducing the room to maneuver.

      • John F

        “and he may focus on the important and difficult task of getting Trump to stop messing things up”

        Good luck with that.

        Turtleman is involved in the legislative process/procedure- Trump couldn’t care less about that kind of stuff. If he so much as hinted that Trump need to butt out/stop messing up, Trump would not take that very well.

        McConnell went through the entire GOP Primary through to the General Election without ever exposing himself politically, he never engaged Trump either for or against, he gave a masterful impression of being above the fray. He can no longer do that.

        • sharculese

          Also McConnell has no leverage over Trump, and even if he did, getting Trump to behave rationally is a fool’s errand.

          • petesh

            Actually, he does. Trump would like a legislative achievement to boast about. He cannot get it without McConnell, and McConnell knows he can’t pass anything big without Schumer.

            I suspect McConnell gamed out exactly what happened. If he did get the votes, great, job done. If not, then he’ll have to work something out with Schumer, on healthcare or on taxes, and that means sidelining Trump until you bring him in to let him pat himself on the back.

            Note: McConnell only ever said one word about whether Mexico would pay for the border wall, and that word was “No.” I just don’t believe McConnell drove himself into a place with no exit.

            • mongolia

              Actually, he does. Trump would like a legislative achievement to boast about.

              i doubt this. i think trump wants to pretend he has legislative achievements, do the signing ceremonies, do base rallying speeches, and have cable news talk about how great he is. the actual content of the legislation i don’t think he really gives 2 shits about, unless it hurts him legally or in his pocketbook. or if the legislation leads to an ego boost or hit.

              seriously, if i were an advisor to him, i’d get someone sent to mitch and paul and get them to pass a stream of important-sounding but meaningless legislation so that trump can have his gilded signing ceremonies – it would probably be the best way for cons to actually pass their horrid agenda

              • sharculese

                i think trump wants to pretend he has will continue to lie about having legislative achievements

                FTFY

                • petesh

                  Oh, sure he will. But/and McC has got to see Trump as a problem to be dealt with. Trump will sign anything, but he has to be handled.

                • Roberta

                  Serious question: what are the odds he’ll just say he built the wall? Texans and Mexicans will post pictures on Twitter and all over the internet of the border, showing no wall, and he’ll just say WE BUILT THE WALL, and his supporters will cheer?

                  (also, good work, KEEP CALLING, everyone)

                • petesh

                  @Roberta: We could call it The Emperor’s New Wall!

                • sharculese

                  But/and McC has got to see Trump as a problem to be dealt with.

                  sure. The problem is they have no real way of doing so. He gave an interview this afternoon where he seemed totally indifferent to whether this bill gets passed. What does McConnell do about that? What do you do about a president who just doesn’t give a fuck?

                • petesh

                  What do you do about a president who just doesn’t give a fuck?

                  Um, in two words: Im peach

              • FlipYrWhig

                If I were advising Trump I’d tell him to boil down the bill to two things: (1) no individual mandate; (2) work requirements for beneficiaries. Then strut around about how much “freedom” and “personal responsibility” you’ve just guaranteed. Because the reason why Republican rank-and-file voters dislike Obamacare is that they think it’s welfare. Just do something to make it clear that it’s as stigmatized as any other form of welfare, and walk away with a win.

              • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

                Hey, Trump Jr. says Dad is the greatest President ever with the most accomplishments in history. And he wouldn’t lie, would he?

              • sharculese

                As long as he keeps appoint judges they like they won’t.

            • efgoldman

              McConnell knows he can’t pass anything big without Schumer.

              I can’t see any kind of bill, for anything, except maybe the debt limit, where the Dem caucus would go along with the RWNJs.

              • Pete

                No maybe about that one. The issue will be whether the GOP is unified.

      • Manny Kant

        Trump has played very little part in the current mess McConnell finds himself in. The problem with Trump is more one of absence than of actively screwing things up. He’s not actually lobbying for it, can’t discuss the legislation in detail, and is, indeed, completely disengaged from its details.

        • Hogan

          The problem with Trump is more one of absence than of actively screwing things up.

          That’s also, from another perspective, a solution.

      • Zagarna_84

        “the situation has developed not necessarily to McConnell’s advantage”

        ISWYDT (though this situation seems a wee bit less grave for McConnell than “just hit with two nuclear bombs”).

    • ericblair

      That’s my read. Time is running out and it will simply smell worse with age.

      And in general, while individual politicians can play games, “EVERYTHING IS KABUKI IT’S IN THE BAG DOOMED I TELL YOU” is generally bullshit. Things are pretty much what they look like. Nobody is going to kayfabe or whatever to either make themselves look bad or have to rely on someone else not stabbing them in the back. I figured the most likely way this shit would pass into law would be by accident, where every gooper would figure that there were at least three defections and they could get a “free” vote for Trumpcare without it actually passing, and oopsie.

      • djw

        And in general, while individual politicians can play games, “EVERYTHING IS KABUKI IT’S IN THE BAG DOOMED I TELL YOU” is generally bullshit.

        People were still saying that in comments as late as yesterday, after Collins (who wants to be Governor a lot more than she wants to make Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump happy) came out against the bill.

        Here’s the thing I find fascinating: This landed about as clumsily as I would have expected six weeks ago. But from about three weeks ago until the defections started, I got sucked into this collective pessimism that despite all the obvious obstacles this was likely to pass. As far as I can tell nothing concrete or specific happened or was revealed at the end of May/beginning of June that should have led to everyone–on the internet, in real life–to radically upgrade the odds of a passing bill, but for some reason that’s what happened, and I don’t really understand why.

        • Dilan Esper

          One of the effects of the Internet is to put a lot more weight behind conventional wisdom.

          I’d argue that dynamic occurred with respect to polls and whether Hillary had the election wrapped up last year. There were a few dissenting voices and they got quickly shouted down.

          • djw

            I’d argue that dynamic occurred with respect to polls and whether Hillary had the election wrapped up last year.

            Absolutely.

            • howard

              i will say that the default assumptions that gop moderates always fold and that mcconnell knows how to get to 50 don’t look especially dopey in retrospect, they just came up wrong in this particular instance.

              • Lost Left Coaster

                Yes. I mean, imagine if Trump had lost. All our concern over his possible election would have amounted to “ha, you guys actually thought he was going to win! You fools. There was no way he was going to win. He’s a total buffoon.”

                • djw

                  To be clear, I’m not suggesting we should assume or ever should have assumed it was “impossible” for this to pass the Senate. I’m saying it’s unclear to me we ever had any compelling warrant to abandon early-May conventional wisdom that it was going to be extremely difficult to thread the needle and the odds were, while not long enough to be remotely confident, still against it.

                • MDrew

                  Why shouldn’t the question be whether there was ever any compelling warrant to have any conventional wisdom about the likelihood of passage?

                  It’s never easy to satisfy a majority-of-the-body portion of any majority coalition, but this is the absolute, nonnegotiable top priority of the GOP activist base and has a huge tax cut tied to it to boot, and McConnell has a majority caucus, a 51-vote requirement, and the vice presidency. There never should have been any conventional wisdom that the odds were worse than even. Which isn’t to say that any given argument among many others that the odds were indeed worse than that might not be/have been a compelling argument. But it never should have been or should be conventional wisdom.

                  Any given argument about what direction this is going in might be very astute, but conventional wisdom around such arguments has been settling in much too fast, a cycle that’s now in I think at least its third iteration.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          I think we kind of collectively decided if there was one adult, one supergenius, in the room it was McConnell and if he was going to put himself on the line he knew he had the votes. Sort of a cargo cult deal

          • farin

            “Smartest, most capable Republican,” it turns out, isn’t worth a whole lot.

            • smartalek

              Who could have imagined… ?

        • SatanicPanic

          Last time we were all giddy that it failed in the House, until it didn’t.

          • CP

            This.

          • Pat

            This.

          • djw

            OK, but the timeline doesn’t work. For the first several weeks after the House passage, skepticism about any path forward in the Senate was still the order of the day.

            • SatanicPanic

              I dunno, I think it was just that he set a hard date and didn’t appear to be laying any obvious groundwork to shitcan the bill.

            • Lost Left Coaster

              But McConnell seemed to be getting away with once again flagrantly violating norms by keeping the bill secret and lying about it left and right. And now we’re supposed to be crowing victory because a handful of self-interested shitbag senators who can still be bribed are dragging their feet?

              Skepticism, yes. But optimism, not yet.

              • djw

                Who’s “crowing victory”? I’m merely suggesting the dramatic shift in conventional wisdom from early to late May probably wasn’t warranted. Obviously, this isn’t over and it could still pass and we should still do everything we can to decrease the odds of passage.

                • rlc

                  Possibly it was assumed that the Senate would produce a less vicious bill that would allow roping in the “moderates”. But they didn’t do that.

                  Yet.

        • ericblair

          June that should have led to everyone–on the internet, in real life–to radically upgrade the odds of a passing bill, but for some reason that’s what happened, and I don’t really understand why.

          Partly people don’t want to get their hopes up/jinx everything, and partly that you come off as less of a chump if you’re Debbie Downerism ends up being wrong then your optimism.

        • econoclast

          I think this was the one time where pessimism was warranted, and we got lucky. It didn’t look like the House could pass a bill, and yet they did, which showed that the institutional constraints against passing a terrible bill were weaker than expected. Also, McConnell, who’s been a competent (but evil) Senate Majority Leader, seemed like he thought he had the votes. I bet he really did have the votes three weeks ago, and it all fell apart since then.

          • nemdam

            This. It’s why I was so pessimistic. If the House can pass the bill the way they did (as though there will be no consequences), what’s to stop the same thing from happening in the Senate?

            I’m very, very happy to be wrong.

            • Lost Left Coaster

              I’ll be happy if we’re wrong. But I think that the obituary for this bill is being prematurely written by some commenters here. Even if the prognosis for it is getting worse and worse.

        • Denverite

          As far as I can tell nothing concrete or specific happened or was revealed at the end of May/beginning of June that should have led to everyone–on the internet, in real life–to radically upgrade the odds of a passing bill, but for some reason that’s what happened, and I don’t really understand why.

          McConnell signaled that he was serious about passing it and wasn’t just going to bury it as had been speculated.

          • djw

            If that’s the whole story (and it’s the best explanation I can think of) we should collectively work on being more savvy, skeptical consumers of signals from Mitch McConnell.

            • Lost Left Coaster

              But look at what McConnell has accomplished in his tenure by flagrantly violating the norms of the Senate and lying left and right about just about everything. Does the name Gorsuch mean anything to you? Obviously we shouldn’t assume that he has super powers or that he has solved the internal frictions of politics. But I do not follow your argument here that it was obvious all along that McConnell can’t pull this off.

              • djw

                “We should be more skeptical and savvy consumers of signals from McConnell” =/= “McConnell isn’t a skilled and talented political operator”

                But I do not follow your argument here that it was obvious all along that McConnell can’t pull this off

                Again, never ever said “can’t”. Said we started overestimating likelihood.

                • Denverite

                  Again, never ever said “can’t”. Said we started overestimating likelihood.

                  I think even this is a bit premature.

                  But I think the real story if it ends up not passing is that McConnell simultaneous underestimated (1) the degree to which Rand Paul can be obstinate, and (2) how much Susie Collins would prefer to be the Governor of Maine. (Heller was always one of the two free passes.)

        • Just_Dropping_By

          Here’s the thing I find fascinating: This landed about as clumsily as I would have expected six weeks ago. But from about three weeks ago until the defections started, I got sucked into this collective pessimism that despite all the obvious obstacles this was likely to pass. As far as I can tell nothing concrete or specific happened or was revealed at the end of May/beginning of June that should have led to everyone–on the internet, in real life–to radically upgrade the odds of a passing bill, but for some reason that’s what happened, and I don’t really understand why.

          Because a significant number of left-leaning people desperately fantasize about being noble resistance fighters and thus constantly overstate the degree and/or effectiveness of Republican unity? (And right-leaning people do the same when Democrats are in power.)

          • Lost Left Coaster

            Are we seriously getting lectured now about being too pessimistic? Now? In the Trump era?

            Jesus Christ, if we avoid this particular dirigible wreck, there are plenty more coming, including, surely, more attempts to take away people’s health care.

            I know that hopeless pessimism makes for bad politics. But if Trump’s election taught us anything, hopefully it was that “nah, no way can this happen” doesn’t make for very good politics either.

        • ColBatGuano

          You never lose money betting that Republicans will do something terrible.

          • djw

            An important part of doing terrible things is being able to reach some sort of agreement on which terrible thing to do.

        • Matt McIrvin

          What changed was that McConnell started talking up that he already had the votes and gunning for a rapid snap vote, instead of a long series of hearings to draft a whole new bill. That really made it seems as if the whole Senate majority had basically caved in favor of something very close to the House bill. And it actually was the whole Senate majority, minus a few people.

        • MDrew

          Can you point to when you had this knowing skepticism of the giddiness of the conventional wisdom about the seeming fate of Trumpcare after the first House bill failed?

      • mongolia

        And in general, while individual politicians can play games, “EVERYTHING IS KABUKI IT’S IN THE BAG DOOMED I TELL YOU” is generally bullshit. Things are pretty much what they look like.

        very true.

        one way to look at this is that these are 52 people all looking out for their own interests, and the other issue is is that coordinating that many egotistical people to be on point and on message repeatedly is *hard*. part of the reason for the secrecy is that it helped avoid doing that coordination necessary, but it just kicked the can down the road and made the messaging even harder after the fact, since no one knew what the messaging was supposed to be

        • humanoid.panda

          Right. Plus, I initially thought that reports that no one saw the bill were BS. But this week shows it’s probably true..

    • Manny Kant

      I’m starting to be a bit skeptical of the conventional wisdom that McConnell is a brilliant legislative leader.

      Not that he’s not very clever, it’s just that, up to now, his talents have been used pretty much entirely for obstruction. He became the leader in 2007, after Republicans lost control of the Senate. He proceeded to filibuster everything through the 110th Congress, and obstruct everything he possibly could through the 111th. He was good at it, but couldn’t prevent a whole bunch of legislation from getting through in Obama’s first two years. After 2010 midterms, he was basically irrelevant for the next several years, since the key veto point was the GOP House, not McConnell’s Senate caucus. He became majority leader in 2015, but again his only substantive success was obstruction: stopping Garland’s SCOTUS nomination.

      As far as I’m aware, McConnell has never shepherded important domestic policy legislation through the Senate, and there’s no particular reason to believe he’s particularly good at doing that.

      • CP

        I’m starting to be a bit skeptical of the conventional wisdom that McConnell is a brilliant legislative leader.

        Honestly, the more I look at politics and history, the more I think the difference between “brilliant and savvy mastermind” and “great big dumb-dumb” has at least as much to do with dumb luck as anything else.

        • humanoid.panda

          That and it’s inherently easier to unite your caucus in opposition than when you actually have to leave fingerprints on stuff

        • Manny Kant

          I don’t think there’s any doubt that McConnell is a clever legislative tactician. It’s just that his talent so far has all been shown in obstruction, which, given the rules of the Senate, is much easier.

          Actually persuading almost his entire caucus to vote for a wildly unpopular bill that will only become more wildly unpopular if it is actually enacted is like an order of magnitude more difficult than getting his caucus to stand together to obstruct Democrats.

          Furthermore, McConnell has no core ideological beliefs, so it’s all tactics with nothing else really behind it. Paul Ryan is a sociopathic incompetent, but at least he really believes the garbage he’s selling. All of his actions are designed to push a (terrible) agenda he actually believes in. That means that when he pressures his caucus to vote for this, they can actually trust in his good faith, at least.

          McConnell clearly doesn’t believe in anything. His 2nd in command is John Cornyn, the most egregious hack in the Senate. These guys tell you to vote for something, their caucus has literally no reason to trust them. There’s no reservoir of good will for McConnell that he can pay out to get votes – all he has are brute force pressure and pay-offs because he has no moral authority.

          (I realize it’s ridiculous saying Paul Ryan has moral authority, but I think that many of the people he needs to persuade really do believe that he’s a man of principle. Nobody thinks that about McConnell.)

          • petesh

            See the note I just wrote above. McConnell’s talent is to avoid no-win situations, and I simply don’t believe he thought the healthcare bill would be a slam-dunk. Therefore he had a back-up scheme. What it is remains to be seen.

          • I think an even simpler and more to-the-point summation is that being an effective opposition leader and being an effective majority leader require two separate skill sets, which may or may not always overlap. Some legislators (Pelosi, Reid) seem to have had both skill sets; McTurtle may not be among those legislators, however.

            I must provide a caveat here that I understand almost nothing about professional sports these days, but it seems like there’s something of an overlap here with various sports in which offence and defence also require two separate skill sets (American football is a particularly extreme example in that it actually has two different sets of players for each skill set).

      • John F

        “since the key veto point was the GOP House”

        I’m not sure “veto point” is quite accurate, I’m not sure what to call it… usually you see this when Congress is in different hands than the POTUS:

        1. House passes stuff
        2. Senate signs off (unless filibustered)
        3. POTUS vetoes
        4. Once that gets out of the way, POTUS and Congressional leaders work on something

        That didn’t happen after 2010 because the GOP House had, and still has, all sorts of trouble getting out of its own way.

        There are equivalents of the FreeDumbers in the Senate too, the have not been as notorious at gumming up the works as their House counterparts only because they really have not had as many opportunities.

        • mongolia

          there’s also the fact that they comprise less of the chamber in terms of proportion (3-5/100 vs ~35/435), and r’s have controlled the house for 7 years as opposed to 3 for the senate

        • Manny Kant

          My point is that the Senate never really mattered from 2011 onwards. Negotiation was between Obama and Boehner. McConnell could be relied on to sign off on whatever compromise Boehner could get enough of his caucus to swallow, but that wasn’t down to his skill, but to the different kinds of politicians who get elected to House and Senate.

        • Matt McIrvin

          I would say more that their consciously chosen strategy was to allow the President nothing, because their sole and total goal was to destroy him, not to pass any legislation. Step 4 was not something they ever wanted to do.

      • nemdam

        This should again reinforce the point about how good of a House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi was especially in light of how everybody seemed to blame her for Jon Ossoff’s defeat (one moment while I laugh hysterically). When major legislation is up, she gets the votes. That’s her main job, and she does it as well as anyone.

        • Pelosi is clearly one of the most skilled parliamentarians the Democratic Party has had in decades, and anyone who was arguing to dump her because of GA-06 demonstrated how little they understand about how politics in this country actually work.

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            Or, alternately, they want to make the Democrats completely ineffective.

            • Well, yes, there are probably more than a few of those too. And there are probably more than a few on Moscow’s payroll as well.

          • anyone who was arguing to dump her because of GA-06 demonstrated how little they understand about how politics in this country actually work how quickly certain portions of the left like to find a convenient powerful woman to dump on as soon as things don’t go exactly their way.

            • Yes, that too. The only amendment I would make would be to add scare quotes around “the left”, because these people are not in any meaningful sense leftists or liberals.

      • Rob in CT

        I’m starting to be a bit skeptical of the conventional wisdom that McConnell is a brilliant legislative leader.

        Not that he’s not very clever, it’s just that, up to now, his talents have been used pretty much entirely for obstruction.

        McConnell as a legislative Robert E. Lee? Great – fantastic at times – at defense, but kind of mediocre (not bad, just not anything special) on offense? Analogy complete with defense/obstruction being easier than offense/passing meaningful legislation.

    • Sly

      The current reconciliation instructions expire either when the Senate takes up the budget for the next fiscal year (within McConnell’s control, so not going to happen) or when the current fiscal year ends.

      The current fiscal year ends on September 30th. Congress is out of session for the first week of July and all through August, giving them slightly less that two months to get a bill out of the Senate and make the House pass it to avoid a conference committee.

      And keep in mind one of the big purposes of savaging Medicaid is using the spending cuts to offset the revenue shortfall for a tax cut bill, which has to occur in the same fiscal year for that math to work. That means they have to go through the whole reconciliation process again; the House and Senate need to pass budget resolutions, the House needs to draft and pass a bill, the Senate needs to draft and pass a bill, and the House needs to pass the Senate’s bill to avoid a conference committee again.

      They won’t be able to do all of this, so the only way this passes is one of two ways: (a) they don’t do a tax cut bill and concentrate solely on getting this done by September or (b) they take the hit and start over in October.

      (A) assumes that they can find some meeting ground between the ultra-right and the far-right where everyone is satisfied. I doubt this will be the case for the reasons you’ve mentioned.

      (B) means that Trump be the first President in a century, if not ever, to end his first year in office without any major legislative accomplishment.

      Even Ford would have gotten more passed before the Democrats trounced him the 1974 midterms. Sad!

      • Manny Kant

        What major legislation did George H. W. Bush get through in 1989?

        • JKTH

          He passed a reconciliation bill that did a bunch of things (including COERCING states to expand Medicaid). It’s not a huge deal but not insignificant either.

        • John F

          Whistleblower Protection Act

          https://www.congress.gov/bill/101st-congress/house-bill/3660

          Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989
          Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Repeal Act of 1989
          Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989

      • humanoid.panda

        I think you are a bit wrong on the sequencing. The next reconciliation bill, the one they will use on tax reform, is for fiscal year 2018 so they will have all year to work it. The only reason they did the sequencing this way is that they wanted deficit neutral tax cuts, and getting the ACA taxes repealed was a way to add anther tirillion on top

        • Manny Kant

          My understanding was that they were trying to get the tax cuts through *this* fiscal year.

      • Karen24

        I’m not enough of a fool to say they can’t do this, but I wouldn’t want to be working on something this large with that deadline.

        • efgoldman

          I wouldn’t want to be working on something this large with that deadline.

          Plus election year. Politically, they might not want to pass a POS bill like this close enough to November so it’s fresh in voters’ minds.

    • aab84

      I have to admit, I don’t really get the “they’ll hear it from constituents” argument. Is a single wavering Republican Senator holding a town hall over the recess? So far, the Republican strategy to deal with constituent anger has been to (1) refuse to meet with constituents; and (2) refuse to answer the phones so that your voicemail fills up.

      I’m not saying people shouldn’t try to pressure the hell out of them, but I’m not sure where this optimism about the recess comes from. They’re all hiding!

      • Karen24

        If you live in Maine, Nevada!!!, Ohio, or Wisconsin, yell often. Make the point that they ARE hiding and doing so over the Independence Day holiday. What? Are politicians afraid of their constituents? Do we need to throw some tea in a harbor somewhere to get their attention?

        • “Do we need to throw some tea in a harbour somewhere?”
          Thus would violate the Tea Pollution Regulation signed by Barack Obama, caving supinely to pressure from India and China.

          • IM

            Obama is a tool of John Company!

      • Aexia

        Not town halls certainly but many of them will be in 4th of July parades.

      • nadirehsa

        They won’t hold town halls, but we have gotten pretty creative at getting media attention anyway. I organized a citizen’s town hall for a House rep; another group did one for the same rep a month later. We do die ins outside their offices, overnight vigils, airplanes flying overhead with messages. Town halls are better, but they will hear it one way or another.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        We have to hope that some of the handful of supporters (the ones with the big bucks, generally) they will be meeting with express displeasure with Trumpcare.

        If Republicans start getting this message from the people whose opinion they actually care about, things could change quickly. Doesn’t look like most of the wealthy doctors are in favor of this bill.

        • Karen24

          One of the bright spots for me was seeing that the nursing home association is close to apoplectic about it. They have to have Medicaid or they go under, especially in rural areas, which just so happen to be Republican strongholds.

          • Denverite

            They have to have Medicaid or they go under, especially in rural areas, which just so happen to be Republican strongholds.

            The flip side of that coin is that LTC is the absolute last place that will feel Medicaid cuts. Partly because SNF rates are already so low, and partly because poor and disabled people don’t vote, but the people who are going to have to have Grandma live in their basement and have to change her diaper five times a day do.

    • Sev

      This is what I think. In reply to Dilan; don’t know why it’s showing up here
      I think very likely it’s dead.

  • John F

    “If the arguments being made by conservative “intellectuals” are any indication, they genuinely don’t seem to understand that poor people don’t have any money”

    Old joke:

    “[Have you heard ]the story of the engineer and the economist who, walking through a remote forest, fell into a very deep hole with vertical sides[?] The engineer said, “We’ll die down here. No one can hear us calling for help, and it is impossible to climb out.”

    The economist said, “On the contrary, there is no problem. First, assume a ladder.”

    No, they do not understand that the poor have no money, they have money and they really have no understanding of the concept of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.

    No, they do not understand why some people need daycare, either they have enough $ to pay for a full time nanny/babysitter or they have relatives willing and able to do it for free. They simply are incapable of seeing how the world works for someone with less money or whose relatives need to work (or people who don’t even have living relatives).

    They don’t understand homelessness. They don’t understand that some people literally do not have a family safety net.

    • so-in-so

      I really think they should all be educated in the most direct possible manner…

      • Sev

        Evict them from their House, at least.

    • CP

      I mean, the nastier explanation is that they do understand that and want them to die.

      Which might not be most of them, but surely is at least some of them. Remember the Paul interview where he was asked “should people without health insurance simply be left to die?” and audience members shouted “YEAH!” before he could answer.

      • petesh

        Well, as Eric Trumpson reminded us recently, they're not really people.

        • ColBatGuano

          You mean Lizard Boy?

          • smartalek

            Patrick Bateman II

      • ericblair

        My guess is that it simply didn’t register to them that there were any real world consequences. There were the interviews a couple of weeks ago with Grandpa Walnuts et al, discussing the issue, and it was surreal. The interviewer tried to talk about policy and the stupid fuckers just couldn’t understand anything except the politics. What were the problems with healthcare that they were trying to solve? Well, they needed votes from the right wing. No, what were the issues? Well, we needed X votes. Over and over. Fucking insane.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          Republican politicians don’t want to govern, they just want to loot.

      • aab84

        This was the opinion of at least a third of my law school class. If you can’t afford to pay for medical treatment, you should not be treated by a doctor. Their answer to the “emergency rooms are expensive” argument was absolutely “it’s not expensive if you let them die.”

        • smartalek

          And that was Harvard?

          • twbb

            I would have guessed Chicago.

        • farin

          Man, it’s not even the inhumanity of that answer that’s the worst. Yes it is expensive if you let them die, because odds are they’re employed and producing surplus value for their employers. Letting poor workers die is the state irresponsibly shifting costs onto small business owners!

          • Right. Even if you are a complete sociopath and completely disregard the human cost, there is still further economic cost in terms of lost productivity as a result of untreated illnesses, retraining employees who die prematurely, and so on. These people are complete sociopaths, and they don’t understand even the basics of economics.

          • Matt McIrvin

            Job creation!

        • CP

          College educated Republicans are right where I’d expect to see a ton of those people. Educated enough that they’re likely to have actually thought about this, and privileged enough not to really care because it won’t be their ox being gored. Or so they figure.

  • MyNameIsZweig

    Fight that can be won, surely.

    • kped

      Maybe, but I hope you’re not the type who will blame Democrats if it isn’t won…they don’t have power here, only people with power are the voters who can blast the phone lines of the vulnerable senators.

    • Whirrlaway

      The are one person, they are two alone, they are three together, they are four each other.

  • Hells Littlest Angel

    Thank goodness Republicans aren’t willing to sacrifice their political careers to do what they think is right, like Democrats did with Obamacare.

  • randomworker

    I was wrong yesterday. Thankfully.

    • dogboy

      Keep up the good work.

    • Bruce B.

      Me too, and seldom so glad to be so. Last night I had some hellaciously bad nightmares.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    How long until Trump tries to take credit for this delay and spin it as their response to him demanding that the bill have “more heart”?

    • John F

      Oh I would love that, cuz you know most of these guys personally hate and resent Trump, and he’s just the type of guy who’d do something like that to people in his own “party.”

      He’s totally capable of going up to GOP pols who fell on their swords FOR HIM, and kicking them.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Oh yeah. I’m waiting for it. He’ll think that somehow that would make this not his failure.

        Imagine if they had a mildly competent GOP president? People would be dying from lack of healthcare already.

    • Pat

      Hasn’t Trump’s PAC already started running ads against Heller in Nevada for his stand?

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Yes. He’s been pushing this bill, no doubt, but as soon as its failure is certain he’ll have been against it. Of that I am sure.

  • kped

    So earliest a vote can happen is July 10th (first day back), but really would be later that week. Only 3 weeks in July before they go for August holiday.

    But that $300B deficit savings can be used for a lot of bribes in the interim…

    Also, am I wrong in this logic: The deficit savings are over 10 years, not a yearly metric. It’s a total, so $30B a year, which is essentially a rounding error in the $500B+ deficit, no?

    • randy khan

      Bribes will work only on moderates, not on Paulites.

      • kped

        Not sure I agree on that, and honestly, they are all low class, they won’t take much to be bought.

      • fd2

        The thing about this is, there’s some indication that three of the moderates are the ones that can’t be bribed by McConnel.

        Collins wants the governorship of Maine. McConnel can neither help nor hinder her in this ambition, but fucking up Medicaid certainly could.

        Murkowski wants to bring back pork for Alaska. She already got primaried out and won as an independent at a walk – McConnel can’t threaten her, but this bill royally fucks Alaska and it’s unclear that there’s a bribe big enough to get around that.

        Heller wants to continue a career in Nevada politics. He can’t do that without staying on the good side of Brian Sandoval, and Sandoval doesn’t want this bill to pass.

        I’d never say never when it comes to Republican moderates caving, but that’s two people whose future ambitions lie outside the Senate and one who’s an “independent” from a very idiosyncratic political culture. That might be enough.

        • West of the Cascades

          One of the little-noticed events of the last week was the announcement last Wednesday by Congresswoman Jacky Rosen that she is going to challenge Heller for his Senate seat next year. It was two days later that Heller announced his opposition to the Senate health care bill. If a credible Democratic candidate hadn’t announced, would Sandoval’s pressure have been enough to make Heller cave? Maybe – but the combination probably gave him 48 sleepless hours before coming out against the bill.

    • bender

      Today’s news is better than a poke in the eye, but

      What could possibly go wrong?

      Try these:

      1. The August holiday is not carved in stone. I think McConnell has the power to delay it or cut it short if he thinks a vote on short notice will do the trick.

      2. I’m still suspicious of the firmness of the holdouts. I would like to see more of them, both as a cushion and because there might be a number large enough to be a tipping point past which a bunch of reluctant but compliant Republicans will change their votes or vote present or something.

      3. When the outcome is this close, somebody getting really sick or dead, or getting an offer he or she doesn’t want to refuse can flip things.

      • Sly

        1. The August holiday is not carved in stone. I think McConnell has the power to delay it or cut it short if he thinks a vote on short notice will do the trick.

        The August recesses is established by statute, under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970, so McConnell would have to call a vote to change it. The House Freedumb Caucus floated this idea a few weeks ago but it didn’t get much traction.

      • 1. The August holiday is not carved in stone. I think McConnell has the power to delay it or cut it short if he thinks a vote on short notice will do the trick.

        I’m obviously looking at this as an outsider, so there are a lot of nuances I don’t understand. But I would be genuinely floored if a bunch of overprivileged, entitled, rich career politicians were willing to give up their vacation in order to achieve a party goal.

  • McConnell will probably try to buy off as many “moderates” as possible with some last-minute changes and then call a vote a day or so later, like they did in the House. As Ed Kilgore writes:

    “As a practical matter the higher deficit-reduction number is pleasing to conservatives, but also gives McConnell a slush fund to buy “moderate” votes with more generous spending provisions.”

    Remember, they got a lot of the House “moderates” to back an even harsher bill than the original version with only minor, essentially symbolic tweaks.

    • CP

      That’s the danger, yes.

  • Todd

    While I think this delay makes it more likely that they can get to 50 later on, it probably also means that the ultimate bill that passes will be even more divergent from the House bill.

    Picking up moderates probably means peeling off teabaggers, and vice versa. So, the most realistic way to get to 50 and 217 on the same bill is by simple spite: to pass something just to say they did it and have a party that they repealed the ACA in large part. 6th grade playground psychology has always been the motivating impetus behind this entire endeavor anyway.

    • humanoid.panda

      The problem for them is that they have ideological commissars making sure they can’t pass a fake repeal

      • Todd

        That is probably where lolPOTUS comes in. He will push for something, anything that he can hold up to cameras and tweet about. If the GOP could give him 50/217 votes, he would probably sign a law strengthening the ACA as long as he could call it TrumpCare.

    • nemdam

      The House will pass anything the Senate passes. The GOP knows the Senate is the roadblock. If they get over that hurdle, even with a watered down bill, they will twist arms like they never have to get the House to pass whatever the Senate puts out. The Senate is the ballgame.

      • Karen24

        I’m not so sure. The House KKKrazee Kawkus is dominated by hardcore types in gerrymandered districts who are more afraid of a right-wing primary opponent than anything the leadership can do. They promised to inflict pain on the whores and N-clangs, which the Senate is notably less enthusiastic about. Also, there have been three more defections since they announced there would not be a vote. Change the bill to get Collins and Heller and you lose the House loons. Change for the Teahadis and you lose Collin and Heller. In the meantime, we exploit the cracks in the caucus and make them hate each other.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      I would have agreed with you if I hadn’t watched the House “moderates” change to vote for a bill that was even worse from their perspective.

      I guess it’s just another example of Republican’s propensity to vote for policies which will hurt them.

  • mongolia

    in light of this, and the general failure of republicans to get any of their policy goals through, can we stop with this framing of mcconnell as some genius? his craven tactics work as an opposition leader, and that has gotten him close to potentially repealing the welfare state, but you’d think that for someone that is some supergenius he’d at least have a better gauge of how his caucus functions so that he could ensure he had 50+1 votes. and opposition is inherently easier – see how easy schumer (who, it has to be said, looks quite competent in the role of dem senate leader) was able to get a caucus containing the likes of manchin and heitkamp to be clear no’s early on.

    i’d think the smarter move on mcconnell’s end, if he really wanted to pass a healthcare repeal to cut taxes would have been to attempt to court vulnerable d’s – manchin and heitkamp are the obvious – to offer them a switch to r (or indy) so they could undercut the hard-teahadi wing (lee, cruz, paul), and essentially make collins-cassidy more draconian and get “obamacare repeal and replace” passed. fortunately, looks like he’s too much of an ignoramus to not go for his maximal position, and in the end may end up destroying his legislative agenda in the process

    • Pat

      I’ll be okay with this in 2018 after we recover the House.

    • nemdam

      Underestimate McConnell at your own risk. While opposition may be easier, he was a master at it. Opposition parties did not uniformly oppose a Presidential agenda until McConnell came along.

      And I’m sorry, but there is zero chance Heitkamp and especially Manchin and will ever go along with anything faintly smelling like Obamacare repeal. Not only have they both been fierce critics of both Ryan and McConnell’s plans, healthcare is one of, if not the, top reasons they are Democrats. McConnell isn’t trying to court them because he knows he has no chance at getting them.

      • humanoid.panda

        I don’t think anyone underestimates McConnell. The question is whether we overestimate him. I know I did, because I was certain he had a good CBO score in his pocket and was about to shock and awe the score into quick passage of his bill. Which, well, didn’t happen.

        • stonetools

          Well, the CBO score is basically about math. Can’t bully, bamboozle, or buy off numbers so the Republicans were helpless. If you take hundreds of billions out of health care, you will throw millions off health care, and there is really not much even a Republican CBO director can do about that.

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            But you can bully, bamboozle and buy off the people crunching the numbers. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if the CBO still exists and is independent in a year.

          • Matt McIrvin

            Didn’t the CBO scoring involve a finite time window? I thought they’d craft the bill so that it killed almost nobody’s insurance until after that.

            • mongolia

              iirc sen. murphy specifically requested the cbo to do analysis of years 11-13 to deal with effects outside the 10-year window, which they told him they would. despite that, the 22 million was in the same 10 year window that was used for both house bills. which is crazy to me, because part of the drafting of the bill should have been to get as much of the terrible aspects of the bill outside the 10 year window as possible – a “14 million lose coverage” headline likely means this deal passes

      • Steve LaBonne

        Yertle is a highly effective leader, all the more effective for being completely amoral, but he’s not a magician.

        • free_fries_

          I believe the section aimed at punishing those baby killers at PP/Women’s Whole Health would be effective January 1 2018. I think a couple parts did too but that’s only one I know off the top of my head.

    • djw

      see how easy schumer (who, it has to be said, looks quite competent in the role of dem senate leader) was able to get a caucus containing the likes of manchin and heitkamp to be clear no’s early on.

      i’d think the smarter move on mcconnell’s end, if he really wanted to pass a healthcare repeal to cut taxes would have been to attempt to court vulnerable d’s – manchin and heitkamp are the obvious

      This is completely nuts. Both Schumer and McConnell are smart enough to no keeping them in the D fold on this would be very easy, and attempting to flip them would fail. There wasn’t Democratic consensus on exactly what should have been done in 2009, but there very clearly is now that we shouldn’t undo it. The amount of daylight between Manchin and Bernie Sanders is a tiny fraction compared to that between Manchin and the leftmost Republican. A necessaery-but-not-sufficient condition for some game like this to work would be a bill fairly popular in their states. To state the obvious, this isn’t remotely the case.

      • mongolia

        Both Schumer and McConnell are smart enough to no keeping them in the D fold on this would be very easy, and attempting to flip them would fail.

        was this obvious in nov ’16? i vaguely remember some talk about how manchin was thinking of potentially switching because of the way his state went and he figured that being an r in ’18 might help his reelection chances, and if that happened might have also made fellow deep-red-stater heitkamp follow him. was quashed pretty quickly iirc, but sounded like marginally credible rumors at the time.

        A necessaery-but-not-sufficient condition for some game like this to work would be a bill fairly popular in their states. To state the obvious, this isn’t remotely the case.

        this bill is obviously insanely unpopular, but i was thinking that maybe something along the lines of cassidy collins might be defensible enough and thus popular among r’s to give ruby-red state dems the incentive to vote for it. that’s the scenario i was mapping out for mcconnell – not that he should have offered brca/ahca to red-state dems to get them to bite

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          regards Manchin/Heitkamp switching, I think most of those rumors came from triumphant republicans and/or the same leftists who think W VA is an incipient hotbed of social democracy if only Manchin would lose the D primary

          • Scott Lemieux

            I think most of those rumors came from triumphant republicans and/or the same leftists who think W VA is an incipient hotbed of social democracy if only Manchin would lose the D primary

            This. It was wishful thinking, not reporting.

            • twbb

              Those were fun LGM comment threads.

              “Let’s get that damn DINO!”

              “I live in West Virginia and you are insane.”

          • Manny Kant

            Heitkamp switching would be idiotic. She’d just get killed in the Republican primary by any halfway standard Republican candidate. Manchin might be able to make it work, because he’s the most popular politician in the state, and even the Republicans aren’t necessarily super conservative there.

        • djw

          was this obvious in nov ’16?

          On a huge Medicaid rollback that takes away coverage for over 20 million, that’s wildly unpopular everywhere including their own states? Yes! I don’t know what you’re seeing in their voting record and/or history of public statements that might indicate otherwise.

        • Murc

          i vaguely remember some talk about how manchin was thinking of potentially switching because of the way his state went and he figured that being an r in ’18 might help his reelection chances

          That was, literally, just speculation. It wasn’t based on anything other than people trying to logic things out, as opposed to actual sources close to Manchin.

          Which is fine, but when you do that your logic had better work, and in this case it wouldn’t. Manchin, after switching parties, would have to navigate a West Virginia Republican Primary.

          He’d be slaughtered.

          Manchin’s only path to re-election is through the Democratic Party, period.

          • free_fries_

            I don’t know the specifics of WV balloting but if Manchin lost a primary, couldn’t he run as an Independent a la Lieberman and Murkowski? Maybe an I instead of a D next to his name + his popularity would carry him over an R opponent.

            Actually anyone know how tough his R competition will be?

        • Scott Lemieux

          was this obvious in nov ’16?

          Yes.

  • nemdam

    It cannot be stated enough that this is far from over. This is only one battle in the longer war. But my gut says this is even better news than the instant reactions are saying. What killed the House version of the bill? The fact that there was a public debate i.e. exposure. What eventually got it to pass? Crafting it in secret while no ones was looking and Democrats let their guard down.

    So what does this delay do? It forces a public debate on the bill which is what killed it the first time. And this is after Democrats have learned the lesson to never take their eye off the ball in case McConnell tries to pretend the bill is dead when it really isn’t.

    There’s a reason McConnell tried to rush the bill through and Ryan only passed it in secret. Because they know the longer the bill is debated, the more unpopular it gets, and its chances of passing diminish. Exposure is the bill’s weakness and how it gets killed, and every day it is delayed erodes its chances of passing. The Republicans know this which is why I’ve gotta believe they are devastated at today’s news. They now know there will be no easy victory.

    I became pessimistic about the fate of Obamacare after the House passed their bill because I thought the way it was passed showed Republicans were so unconcerned with public pressure that they were committed to repeal no matter the consequences. But if this were true in the Senate, this vote would not have failed. This shows there are meaningful cracks and weak links in the caucus, and this thing is not a fait accompli.

    This is far from over, but this is a good day. Given how few of those there are nowadays, I will savor it.

    • Karen24

      Yep. The more we make them fail this year, the better. Yeah, the midterms may not be as good as we think now, but having them lose a bunch this year makes next year that much easier. The public likes winners, and seeing Trump & Co fail to win even in the best possible circumstances will have an effect, especially in purplish states. Also, keeping our side motivated is good. They can still do lots of damage, but ever delay is a win for our side.

      • Steve LaBonne

        And keeping their voters DEmotivated.

        • Karen24

          That might even be more important.

        • Matt McIrvin

          Based on a cursory view of Facebook, a lot of Republican loudmouths are seriously pissed off right now. At Republican Senators.

    • mongolia

      my personal biggest concern after the house bill passed was that they were going to scuttle the exchanges further in the month after ahca passed, mcconnell and co would write a bill that kicked only 12-15 mil off their insurance, and they’d attempt to make the incidence of these hit as little as possible the states with the most likely to defect senators – i.e. give some mountineer/mainer/klondike kickback, with some 65+ medicaid funding expansion. when the bill text was released, figure 60-40 passage, then 50-50 after sandoval knocked some sense into heller. fortunately, looks like this is their best shot, but we still have to be vigilant, and most importantly drive into voters heads that THIS IS WHAT REPUBLICANS WANT HEALTH CARE TO BE. candidates for winable seats in ’18 that have already declared should be using the next month painting their opponent as being for destruction of health care through ahca/bcra, with the hope of making the initial message of the ’18 midterms “save your healthcare from the republicans.” this sort of thing happening soon is likely our best chance of preventing a revival scenario like the one that occurred with ahca

  • John F

    “would have been to attempt to court vulnerable d’s – manchin and heitkamp are the obvious – to offer them a switch to r (or indy) so they could undercut the hard-teahadi wing (lee, cruz, paul), and essentially make collins-cassidy more draconian and get “obamacare repeal and replace” passed.”

    I think the problem is you are underestimating polarization, when I was growing up the leftmost GOP pols were to the left of the rightmost Dem pols. That is no longer true, there’s no overlap, Manchin and Heitkamp are well to the left of the leftmost GOPers, they are also farther away from the leftmost GOPers than the leftmost GOPers are from the TeaHadis.

    Maybe he can threaten to court BlueDogs to get the TeaHadis in line somewhat, but he can’t actually create a more stable voting bloc by actually adding Manchin/Heitkamp

    • CP

      Lack of overlap, and also simple tribalism. People didn’t identify as intransigently with their party over the other until the last twenty or thirty years – or at least even if many did, there were always many others that didn’t. Those others are gone now.

    • farin

      Maybe he can threaten to court BlueDogs to get the TeaHadis in line somewhat
      Surely even Rand Paul is smart enough to call his bluff on that?

  • smott999

    Seriously F-CK McConnell.
    Man I hope these RICO reports are true and NY AG has shit on all these assholes in RNC McConnell and Ryan included.
    Hoping for unicorns maybe but if ever a mother f-cker deserved to go to jail it’s this asshole.
    Had polio as a child, helped by March of Dimes, now refuses to meet with them.
    EFF you Mitch and I hope you go to prison.

    Thanks for the vent Peeps.

    • CP

      Thanks for the vent Peeps.

      That’s what blogs like this are here for. (One of the biggest appeal of them, at any rate).

    • petesh

      In my fantasies, McConnell gets done for treason. I said fantasies.

      • Ithaqua

        Yeah, I’ve associated “treason” with “McConnell” plenty of times in my darker moments, of which there have been quite a few in the last few months…

      • I think there’s actually a non-zero possibility of this, depending upon how deep the Russian collusion in 2016 went. I suspect there is a lot we still don’t know about it, and I suspect Mueller already knows a lot of it and will know even more of it by the time he finishes his investigation. I would be fairly unsurprised if a number of high-ranking GOP officials ultimately get charged with treason, including McConnell, Ryan, and, yes, the shitgibbon himself. I’m not a lawyer, but colluding with a hostile foreign power to swing an election seems like it could fit the definition.

        • Davis X. Machina

          No state of war.
          Two witnesses to an overt act.

          It’s a heavy lift.

          • Some interpretations have it that interfering with a foreign country’s election is an act of war, I believe. It’s not impossible.

            • Pete

              Legally perhaps not entirely impossible, but politically — even impeachment is a very, very heavy lift to envision.

              There will be no _treason_ charges for colluding with Russia in the 2016 election barring a true revolution that I don’t foresee.

              • Well, it depends whether the charges are brought about by political actors, doesn’t it? For Democrats to bring those charges would certainly be almost impossible, but if Mueller, the FBI, or some similar body is bringing charges, I can’t imagine political considerations being a particularly great concern.

                Of course, as far as I know, the question “What happens when a special prosecutor charges a president with treason?” is, as of yet, an unsettled one.

          • AMK

            Kushner and Flynn already have like a dozen known overt acts between them. If “state of war” has to be literal, then the next Dem Congress and President should just declare one retroactively on the dates of the acts for purposes of the conviction.

            McConnell is of course the worst of all by throwing a wrench in the Obama admin’s response before the election and then effectively leading the neoconfederate/Vichy government. But He has an overt acts problem.

            I also think the bar for espionage charges is lower than treason, and people can be put away for a long time (aren’t Ames and Hansen still in prison?)

            • Davis X. Machina

              Ex post facto clause makes that dubious… It’s not directly involved — the act itself isn’t made a crime ex post facto — but the circumstances necessary to usher an element of the crime into existence are created ex post facto.

              I’d take the case.

        • Matt McIrvin

          Not treason. Only a handful of people have ever been convicted of it in US history, and it generally has to be really clear-cut collusion with the enemy in a real shooting war, preferably a declared war. “Hostile foreign power” isn’t enough.

          • We weren’t in a shooting war with the Russians when the Rosenbergs were executed for treason, AFAICT. Of course, they were nowhere near as high-ranking as a president, but my point is that that there’s actual precedent for treason charges without an active shooting war. “Collusion to throw an election” seems like it could qualify, since the act fundamentally undermines the entire foundations of our democracy.

            • Matt McIrvin

              They were executed for espionage, not treason.

              • It looks like they may have actually been executed for both, although it appears that espionage was the primary charge. However, sentencing judge Irving Kaufman also cited treason in his sentence:

                I consider your crime worse than murder… I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-Bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding 50,000 and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason.

                That said, if Wikipedia’s list of people the U.S. has executed for treason is complete (which it very well may not be), then the Rosenbergs are the only people executed for treason against the U.S. without a declared state of war.

                Also, I just realised Roy Cohn was involved in the prosecution. It’s disturbing how often I’ve seen that name recently.

                • Davis X. Machina

                  The Rosenbergs were executed for espionage, not treason. The judge is using the term in precisely the loose way it should not.

        • petesh

          I hate to say it, but I think McConnell skates. I just hope he lives long enough to be thoroughly ostracized and to read the first histories making the case that he was the most appalling Senate leader of all time — de facto treasonous if not de jure. He’s right up there, though there have been some doozies.

          I do, however, think there is a significant possibility of Der Trumpenfuhrer being bankrupted and jailed. Pence/Ryan/Hatch can pardon him, of course, but bankruptcy would be just fine by me. The boys should be helicoptered naked into a Tanzanian National Park for the lions and elephants and hippos and warthogs to play with.

        • twbb

          40% of the country will assume it’s all made up, of course.

  • Joe_JP

    Following Sen. Gillibrand’s “if you can’t help, go the fuck home” rule, I guess.

  • AMK

    1) However this turns out, the GOP machine is going to have knives out for the CBO, which is the single most important reason they’ve twice gotten healthcare egg on their face–because the CBO numbers are one of the few pieces of factual evidence still reported as such by the mainstream media, without the “Democrats say/Republicans say” bullshit that the GOP depends on to muddy the waters. If anything, this shows the importance of Dem pressure to keep the media more honest on other fronts.

    2) I have a hard time believing they won’t ultimately pass something terrible. As others have pointed out, the “moderate” holdouts are all being driven by fears for their own jobs in expansion states. It will take approximately ten minutes for whatever hedge fund keeps Lieberman on retainer to offer Portman, Heller, etc lucrative post-political jobs paid for fifty thousand times over in tax cuts.

    • petesh

      1. Agreed. The CBO is in danger.
      2. Bribery might work, but Collins at least seems to be operating on enlightened self-interest, and that may also be true for others who want to extend their political career.

    • Zagarna_84

      Bureaucrats are rarely hailed as heroes (says a bureaucrat), but if this monstrosity is somehow stopped in its tracks, someone needs to track down those anonymous staffers who scored it and pin some fucking medals on them.

      Who would have thought that of all the vaunted “American institutions” that were supposed to check Trump (and so far have mostly failed utterly to do so), by far the most effective would be the friggin’ Congressional Budget Office?

  • Brien Jackson

    This seems like a perfect time for Dems to put out an ACA reform bill that reduces premiums and deductibles. Not that McConnell will let it pass, but it would make it that much more difficult to pass Trumpcare. And as a bonus the single payer uber alles crowd will shit a brick too!

  • DaftPunk

    To paraphrase an old joke.

    We’ve determined that the population is just fine with wealth redistribution, now we’re just haggling over the price.

  • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

    I hate-read RedState so you don’t have to. It’s been a delight watching them say “Republicans should just do market-based conservative health care policies bro” and simultaneously bemoan that the AHCA/BARFA both drop 20 million people from insurance.

    • farin

      Real conservative policy would give everyone insurance, it’s just this government interference that stops it.

    • Matt McIrvin

      I’ve been reading the ones who are sad because they want everyone dropped from insurance, some because they don’t believe in the concept of insurance.

      I remember one guy who said that he opposed Obamacare because nobody needed health insurance, you just had to do what he did and go to Mexico whenever you needed medical care.

      • Tyro

        I’ve been reading the ones who are sad because they want everyone dropped from insurance, some because they don’t believe in the concept of insurance.

        Obamacare really started to make people think more about insurance. First they started saying, “I don’t see why MY MONEY should pay for OTHER PEOPLE’S health care.” Then they realized that that’s what insurance does. Which then made them think, “Wait a sec! Insurance is communism!” and they decided they were against it.

  • zoomar

    If, as I’ve read, this bill gives McConnell about 200 Billion in surplus budget slush with which to bribe 5 senators, and now 2 months to do it, why should he be worried? Seems possible he might even have foreseen this move? Unless the rest of his caucus decides to “go simple on him” this summer for a bit of that cake.

    • Karen24

      Because he can’t guarantee Heller wins his election next year or that Susan Collins gets to be governor of Maine. The WV woman also wants lots more $$ than has been proposed yet. They want things he can’t give. Yeah, we should worry, and I’m sure they’ll manage to put something on Trump’s desk for the trained monkey to sign and then tweet about how great it is, but the odds of them actually destroying Obamacare are much lower now than before. Also, if Trump lets the exchanges die, he’ll take the blame. People are very dumb, but one thing they are consistently dumb about is blaming the President for everything that annoys them, from the weather to traffic tickets to things he actually did.

      • N__B

        They want things he can’t give.

        Rand Paul wants a brain, Lindsey Graham wants courage, and Orrin Hatch wants a heart. The wizard had to tell them that he cannot give them those things but also that they don’t already have them and never will.

        • NonyNony

          I object. I don’t think Orrin Hatch would go asking for a heart when he went to so much trouble to remove his original one in the first place.

          (Also Rand Paul is too stupid to realize that he needs a brain, but that’s a different conversation.)

          • N__B

            If you think Hatch had one once, you’re more of an optimist than me.

            • tsam

              They were all innocent little kids at some point. Strange to think

              • N__B

                It’s a good thing they’ve outgrown that, so I don’t have to feel guilty about my opinion of them.

                • tsam

                  Yeah-something got seriously damaged in these people somewhere along the way

              • jim, some guy in iowa

                so apparently when McConnell was a kid he had polio and received assistance from the March of Dimes. He wouldn’t even look at them when they came to lobby against his monstrosity of a “health care bill”. he’s come a long way, and none of it good

                • N__B

                  Like Ryan, and DJT, and a lot of the rest of them, McConnell now believes that he came into this world fully-grown springing from his own forehead.

                • tsam

                  I don’t get this shit. You have the power to save lives, and you choose to end them or impoverish them so that people with more money than they could ever need will have even more money. Can’t even get my head around it.

        • The wizard had to tell them that he cannot give them those things but also that they don’t already have them and never will.

          So who’s going to get crushed underneath the White House?

          • N__B

            Paul Ryan in 2018 is one possibility.

            • tsam

              Work the iron, Paul.

  • OT: I need to exorcise my irritation with the malformed quasi-English used by Trump’s flacks. I just read this quote from Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

    “I think if anything has been inflamed, it’s the dishonesty that often takes place by the news media.”

    What the hell.

    Also, I am so tired of hearing “this is a president” and “this is a White House” constructions, like “Jake, this is a president who loves America. This is a president who is learning.” Or “this is a White House that is in disarray”. When did this become so common?

    • applecor

      I think this goes back a very long way (50+ years). Reporters like to give the impression of being worldly-wise. “I’ve been here for X number of presidents, and in my vast experience…” I remember network news anchors in the 60s talking like this.

      • The weird thing for me is that Trump’s flacks say it. Sometimes it feels like they’re trying to avoid making direct claims about him or using his name.

        • N__B

          Plausible deniability. Ten years from now, they’ll claim that there’s no evidence they ever met DJT, let alone were his mouthpieces.

          • I think they also want to avoid being in a clip saying “President Trump thinks X” when Trump randomly decides he actually thinks not-X several hours later. It also tends to be used in contexts where they’re very delicately trying to argue “The President is a temperamental man-baby with no experience in public service, so it’s understandable that he’s fucking up so badly” without actually saying it. “This is a president who speaks his mind. This is not a polished, politically correct president. This is a president who is going to be very decisive. This is a president. Believe me. This is a president. President. President. Oh, God, he’s the president.”

            • N__B

              Yeah, that too.

        • applecor

          Ah yes, I see what you are saying. It does seem like an attempt to create some distance, as in, “I may have to say things suggesting that I am just a robot slave, but I actually do have independent judgment.”

    • AMK

      Breaking: Mike Huckabee’s daughter is half-literate trailer trash.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        That’s an insult to many people who live in trailers.

        To trash, also.

    • Mellano

      “Also, I am so tired of hearing “this is a president” and “this is a White House” constructions, like “Jake, this is a president who loves America.”

      Wasn’t this phrasing started by ESPN? Or stolen and trademarked by them?

    • Matt McIrvin

      Mine is an evil laugh!

    • randy khan

      I watched the video of that exchange during the press briefing and it was bizarre.

      And it usually takes more than 6 months before the press office openly resents the press for not telling the story the Administration wants to be told, let alone says so in public (which actually doesn’t happen that often), so they’re way ahead of schedule.

    • sharculese

      Do you really think reading was considered not a sin in the Huckabee household?

      • Didn’t Mike use to be a pastor? If not reading, you’d think some skill at public speaking would be valued in that family.

  • MDrew

    The problem is that they won’t take a message about what repeated failure means re: the unpopularity, harmfulness, political consequences, or any thing else of this effort. They’ll shelve it as long as is strategically necessary/helpful, and come back to it. Any time. Because it simply is that high a priority.

    So I know people keep saying it, but I’ll say it again, because, however much it was hedged, this mistake was made last time: no matter what it looks like is happening, it is not over, so long as there is unified GOP control of the legislature and the executive.

    Period. There is nothing else to add to that. That’s the reality.

    • twbb

      Why should they take a message? The voters forget and the Democrats are idiots when it comes to long-term messaging campaigns.

  • It may turn out to be quite significant that the Dems held the Senate seats in New Hampshire and Nevada in 2016.

  • nacorwin

    I read the first 100 or so comments last night. Went to finish reading the 284 comments this morning and now I’m told there are zero comments. Sad!

    I seem to recall that someone suggested that Pat Toomey wrote the Senate bill. Did I remember that right? Is there any evidence that this is true?

    • twbb

      I figured it was drafted by Abdul Alhazred, like most Republican works seem to be.

      • This strikes me as almost certainly correct.

        As for the missing comments, I assume they’ll be back after the Disqus migration is finished.

        • I hope we can also assume the return of the feature by which clicking on link under “Recent Comments” opens the relevant thread at that comment, rather than (as now for me) at the top of the top.

          • I’d hope so. Disqus does appear to have an option to link to a specific comment so it’s probably just a matter of changing some coding.

  • HowardBannister

    Just heard that Mike Pence is being sent out to get the votes and make this pass.

    Which, on the one hand, Mike Pence.

    On the other hand, this means the White House is now getting involved in whipping for this legislation.

    So, definitely not a dead bill yet.

    Keep on calling.

  • witlesschum

    I just have a hard time believing that Republican senators will really, really choose reelection over enacting upper class tax cuts when it comes down to it. Hopefully I’m wrong, but when it comes down to it most politicians do believe in things and Republicans believe in making sure rich people get more money like they believe in dark blue suits. If it was just about saying fuck you Obama or free market fundamentalism, it’d be dead, but this is about the Republican Party’s reason for being.

    I hope the Dems are ready to resist with complete scorched earth tactics, because that’ll be good politics regardless of whether it works or not.

    ETA, FYI to the management:
    On Firefox and I can only see seven comments at this point, though the counter showed 287. Hope this helps, good luck.

    • twbb

      “I just have a hard time believing that Republican senators will really, really choose reelection over enacting upper class tax cuts when it comes down to it”

      Why? They strike you as people who put their own self-interest behind some inner core of principle?

      • CP

        Frankly, yes. Or at least a certain part of them do. This might’ve started out as just grifting, but at this point I think it’s fairly true that there’s a growing number of True Believers.

        This is besides the fact that one of the many purposes of the entire Right Wing Machine that’s been created over the last forty years or so is to ensure that people who have kept the faith will be loyally rewarded even if it costs them elections. Sweet spots as lobbyists, as talking heads, as ambassadors, or even just on the board of this or that friendly corporation. While at the same time, the threat looms behind it all that if you don’t keep the faith, you’ll be primaried from the right and when you lose your seat that way, all those doors will be closed to you. Part of the point of the right wing machine is to make Republican politicians more afraid of the right wing than they are of their electorates per se.

  • Joe Paulson

    The South has risen! Jefferson Davis should be happy.