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McConnell’s Utter Contempt For Republican “Moderates” May Well Be Justified

[ 113 ] July 14, 2017 |

Above: “Why so glum, chum? My health insurance is going to be fine!”

With Collins and Rand Paul having claimed their golden tickets, the remaining marginal votes in the Republican conference — several of whom declared the massive Medicaid cuts in BCRA unacceptable — have enormous leverage. As we discussed yesterday, in his revised bill McConnell offered them…nothing on their most important ask. McConnell, apparently, assumes they can be bought off for pennies on the dollar with some piddlyshit pork from the slush fund he created by keeping some of the ACA’s tax increases.

The problem for the country is that he may well be right:

When the Senate Republican leadership unveiled its latest plan to roll back Obamacare, senators Rand Paul and Susan Collins quickly announced opposition. With the two free passes to vote no claimed, the next Republican to oppose the bill would deny it a majority. That Republican would apparently be Nevada’s Dean Heller, who had denounced in unequivocal terms the plan’s enormous Medicaid cuts, which are unchanged in the latest bill. But Heller has remained curiously silent.
Ominously, Mike Allen reports, “Republicans keep telling me Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, a third apparent ‘nay,’ will be ‘bought off.’” If Republicans can manage to buy off Senator Geary — I mean, Heller — then they stand a decent chance of working the remaining senators who have expressed concern about the bill.

One of the key dynamics of this legislative saga is that Republican objections to the bill, however strong or unambiguous, tend to melt away in the face of partisan pressure. Senator Bill Cassidy had once articulated the strongest opposition to Trumpcare, arguing that coverage gains in Obamacare should actually be expanded rather than rolled back. Cassidy endorsed the “Jimmy Kimmel test,” saying he would not support any bill that makes medical care unaffordable for an American with preexisting conditions. His new version of the Kimmel Test seems to be that he will not vote for anything unless it satisfies the following conditions: (1) It is a piece of legislation (2) that Republicans want to pass.

Meanwhile, even as of a few days ago, reports indicated that an outright majority of Republican senators rejected Ted Cruz’s amendment to allow insurers to sell plans that don’t protect preexisting conditions. Now that resistance is “melting away,” reports Caitlin Owens, because, as a GOP aide tells her, “No one wants to be bad guy.” (You might think “bad guy” means a person who denies medical care to sick people, but in this context, it indicates precisely the opposite.)

We are on the verge of a rollback of a major welfare benefit that is unprecedented in scope, one that would have utterly devastating consequences. People across the country, and especially Nevadans and West Virginians, need to make their voices heard. I’ve never understood people who were confident that the Trump administration would be a Carter-like dead-end in policy terms, and the high level of danger the still-robust Reagan coalition poses to the country has never been more evident.

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  • Steve LaBonne

    And Ohioans should keep calling Portman. Piddly amounts of additional money for opioid addiction treatment don’t come within a million miles of compensating for the devastation that would be inflicted on such efforts by the Medicaid cuts.

    • Warren Terra

      I saw someplace that with the “extra” money for opioid treatment, the GOP bill brings the oioid treatment funding up to half of what it would be if they left the ACA intact?

      • Rob in CT

        Yes.

        Why did the terrible no-good Democrats have nothing to offer?

  • tsam100

    I’ve never understood people who were confident that the Trump administration would be a Carter-like dead-end in policy terms

    Me either. It’s pretty easy to ruin and break shit in this country. Much easier than improving things.

  • Rob in CT

    The desperate need to pass something, driven by 8 years of lies about the ACA (and, of course but less so by a sick ideology) will keep driving them. Even if this effort fails, they’ll come back and try again. They have to.

    • Murc

      That by itself wouldn’t be so bad if, as you say, the ideological makeup of their caucus allowed them to actually fix the ACA; shore up the subsidies, fix the other technical problems, call it Trumpcare, move on.

      Only they cannot possibly do that; such a bill would get maybe thirty votes among the Republican caucus, and I might be being generous.

      • Domino

        You know, I was about to say “I don’t see why they couldn’t. If they can twist arms and pressure senators who oppose it from the left I see no reason they couldn’t do the same to those who oppose it on the right.” But then I realized Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul wouldn’t think twice about holding a joint press conference saying they are opposed to “Obamacare-Lite”.
        Susan Collins gets her golden ticket, and Dean Heller gets sacrificed for the greater good.

      • Rob in CT

        I think you are being generous, but of course it’s a fantasy bill w/o details so who knows. The whole thing is fantasy, premised on “assume a vastly different Republican party.”

        • Lot_49

          And don’t they still have to reconcile it with the House bill?

          • Rob in CT

            Easy-peasy. The Democrats did it so it must be easy.

          • Scott Lemieux

            I think Ryan will just bring up BCRA for a vote if it passes.

      • mausium

        It would be nice if they were ever interested in doing good but why waste thought on that?

    • royko

      Yup, the whole thing has been an unpopular mess for them, but they keep coming back to it — there’s definite pressure on them to “repeal” the ACA, and that pressure’s not going anywhere, however messy this gets.

      ETA: I should mention, it’s not just that they’ve been demonizing the ACA so now they have to deliver or their base will turn on them. If that was it, it would be an easier problem — they could remove a few token but minor pieces and declare victory. But they’ve got plenty of right wing big money donors like the Kochs who hate having another entitlement and want to see it killed. They’re not so easily fooled by half-measures.

      • CP

        Don’t forget that they, themselves, in many cases, want it killed. The movement conservative project to take over the Republican Party has been ongoing for fifty years. At this point, plenty of these people are True Believers.

    • sanjait

      There is also pressure to free up funds for “tax reform”. That seems to me to be the simplest explanation of their motive.

      • That’s *far* less important to them than keeping the Tea Party satisfied with an ACA repeal. Which is why the latest version gives up on most of the the tax cuts..

    • DAS

      Why do they have to do something? The GOP base believes firmly that government can’t do anything “right” except kill/incarcerate the melanically enhanced here and abroad and make laws the limit the ability of icky people to do icky things. If the GOP fails to do anything about “Obamacare”, then it’s just another example of how government just doesn’t work.

      • mausium

        Because government shouldn’t do ANYTHING but pay them and reduce the 1%’s tax “burden”.

  • Murc

    I wonder if they can do some sort of swappity-do? Like, McConnell hands out two tickets on the motion to proceed, and a different two on the final bill. Would that work at all?

    Regardless… I’m having extreme trouble seeing Heller as any kind of get. Heller is running scared. He’s looked at the numbers Trump put up in Nevada last year, looking at the Clark County demographics, and probably thinking “sheeeeeeit, this grifter from New York is gonna cost me my job.”

    That said, there’s a caveat here: which is whether or not Heller is a real true believer, and whether or not he really wants or needs his job.

    I don’t think he’s the former, but maybe he is; maybe he is willing to fall on his sword for the good of his parties ideological goals, because him holding office is useless if it doesn’t advance those goals. (I can respect this even as I loathe those goals.) But his behavior is not that of a man who is a true believer, but of someone who is either willing to bend with the political winds or whose actual ideology is further to the left than the rest of his caucus.

    The other question is, does he want the job at all? Being Senator is pretty nice. The pay isn’t that great, but the prestige and power is apparently a hell of a drug. Making policy for the United States of America and getting courtiers to constantly seek your favor seems like it would be pretty sweet. If you serve long and well enough you get buildings named after you and people talk about you for decades after you’re in the ground.

    But if Heller doesn’t give a shit about that and just cared about cash moneys, well, there are a million jobs on the wingnut welfare circuit that will pay him huge amounts of money as a reward for helping destroy Medicaid. He could easily take one of them if he does that and then loses.

    • Warren Terra

      Every ticket to vote No can be swapped with two tickets to abstain?

      • BubbaDave

        No; at least, as I understand it if a bill can’t get to 51 with help from the VP, it fails. 47-46 with 7 abstentions doesn’t pass.

        • Murc

          Right; I think, but do not know, that the only way they could make 47-46 work is if those seven Senators literally aren’t there, that is, they run and hide somewhere and don’t vote at all.

          And clearly this will not fly.

    • the actual Bajmahal

      Nevadan here. Heller is on video tape extolling the virtues of Planned Parenthood and repeatedly promising to protect it. Our Republican governor was one of the first repubs to take the Medicaid expansion — which gave 200,000 more Nevadans insurance. Gov. Sandoval is also one of the governors publically lobbying congress to keep, strengthen, and improve the ACA and there is video of Heller and Sandoval standing shoulder-to-shoulder while Sandoval expounds on this issue. These videos already are part of commercials that we Nevadans have been seeing daily for months now.

      If Heller votes for this, he’s definitely toast. But if he doesn’t, he’ll be primaried from the right. I’ve called his office multiple times so far… I don’t know if I’ll call again. I am actually sympathetic towards the position he finds himself in and if I call again — to try and dissuade him from caving into McConnell’s carrot/stick routine — I’m thinking that I’m going to have to promise him something in return. Simply promising to hold my nose and vote for him wouldn’t be enough if McConnell is promising major campaign support, especially in the primary phase where I, as a Dem, wouldn’t be voting.

      Hmmm… what would Frank Underwood do? If only I could promise Heller that I would re-register as a Repub and start a movement to re-register my fellow Nevada Dems as Rebubs so that we could all protect Heller from the primary challenge. I’m not sure if that’s ethical, but it feels like we are in a post ethical world… so…

      I think I’ll call my movement, “CPR for the GOP”.

      • Deborah Bender

        I registered Republican for a decade for precisely that reason–to vote against far right candidates in primaries. Secondarily, to do my bit to move my state’s GOP in a more moderate direction, because a competitive Republican Party keeps the Democratic Party more competent and honest. In the general, I voted for the Democrat.

        I don’t think there is anything unethical about this. It is a legal way of opposing people who are my enemies in every way.

        I think you would have a hard time persuading anybody else to do it. I talked to a few of my friends about what I had done, and no one was interested. You might float the idea on social media, if you use social media, and see what responses you get.

  • AMK

    As before, the CBO number next week will be key for media coverage and narrative. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are holding out to weigh the reaction to that.

  • smartone2

    Once again it is Republicans Deplorables are the ones who are shaping this debate
    They overwhelming want Obamacare to be repeal and replaced
    Because they hate the Black Man.

    But when faced actually Trumpcare plan .. they hate it ..

    So ya know fuck them for being such idiots and not turning off Fox News and actually living in the real world

    • mausium

      They hate more than they’re worried about their future.

      From my terrible family, they care more about Sharia law than they do retirement.

  • twbb

    “I’ve never understood people who were confident that the Trump administration would be a Carter-like dead-end in policy terms,”

    I’ve never understood the constant insistence that all GOPers are nihilistic zealots who will always fall in party line. This is part infinity of how this time they’re absolutely going to repeal ACA and how dare some of us be skeptical. My prediction: this time fails, too. its a game of chicken; no Republican wants to be seen casting the deciding vote, but too many of them need this to fail.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I’m not sure who you’re arguing with. I certainly didn’t say it was “certain.”

      • twbb

        It wasn’t aimed at you alone, but I have seen over the past few months the widespread insistence here (and I’ve seen it from you, too) that the Republicans will inevitably fall in line.

        • Scott Mc

          Are there notable examples where the Rethugs have NOT fallen in line?

          • twbb

            The past couple of Trumpcare attempts, the first Trumpcare attempt in the House, and the Russia sanctions bill.

            • Scott Mc

              I don’t think the first counts though. They made token changes to the first bill and they all fell in line. I am not sure the sanctions bill is really a good example. Sanctions on Russia is really sort of reflexive.

              • twbb

                They didn’t all fall in line for the House bill, though, 20 Republicans voted against it — 3 more and it would have failed. As for the sanctions bill, the White House lobbied against it and almost every single Republican ignored them.

                • Scott Mc

                  Um. Enough fell in line though… And does this White House really lead the Rethug caucus on any issue?

                • twbb

                  Then who are they supposed to fall in line here? McConnell? Whatever risk there is from the Republican base voters over opposing Trump, it’s exponentially less when it comes to opposing McConnell.

    • Anna in PDX

      I certainly hope you’re right but am still worried that they will manage to pass it. I was looking at Heller’s webpage yesterday and even for a “moderate” the sheer rhetoric about how bad “Obamacare” is and how crucial it is that we “replace” it, is just amazing for this Democrat to read. They really do all live in an alternate universe where they have been hammering on this message for so many years they might all really believe it at this point.

    • sanjait

      Huh?

      The question at hand is whether there are merely 3 out of 52 Republican Senators who will go against this deeply unpopular and senseless bill.

      That we even have to wonder about this question suggests that GOPers are predominately nihilistic zealots.

      • sanjait

        And some of the potential holdouts are threatening to do so because the bill doesn’t satisfy their nihilistic zealotry sufficiently.

        • DAS

          Voting against the bill because it “doesn’t go far enough” into right-wing nihilism is actually a good way for GOoPs to thread the needle. They can win votes with their base for being further to the right of McConnell while still not facing any consequences in the general election because, ultimately, they block the (popular!) ACA from being overturned.

      • twbb

        I think you are underestimating how many Republican Senators really do not want to see this pass. A good number of them see their best chance politically to not oppose the bill publicly, but to have it fail anyway.

        If 3 holdouts suddenly changed their vote, I suspect 3 more would miraculously pop up.

        • sanjait

          I’m sure they are conflicted. They are caught politically between a rabid base/demanding donors/party loyalty on one side, and an outraged majority and human decency on the other.

          But the issue isn’t just going to go away quietly. And notably, there aren’t even three holdouts now. There is really one saying the bill is too crazy to support, and she says so in hedgy language to leave herself room to switch if the bill gets Upton’d enough. Then there is Rand Paul, who likes to peacock about opposing “Obamacare-lie” and could very well come to support the bill in the end.

          That’s it. If there are more GOP Senators who would prefer to see the bill not pass, they are, so far, too chickenshit to stick there necks out and make that happen.

          • twbb

            They have a number of options, they’re just all bad for them.

            Your last sentence is exactly what I’m saying.

        • DAS

          Moreover if the bill doesn’t pass, then they can continue to blame whatever is wrong about health care on “Obamacare”. If they pass a bill and it’s bad, the GOP may end up owning health care.

          However, “may” is key here. The GOoPs will claim that Obamacare messed up health insurance so badly that there is no way they can fix it. And besides, it’s the Democrats’ fault for not working with the GOP to fix Obamacare. And the media will report it in their usual “both sides” way (*). Nu? People will still blame the Democrats.

          * although the media hasn’t been 100% horrid on the AHCA/BCRA debate. I think that has thrown the GOP for a loop (and they are still dizzy from the loop the media threw at them) — they expected the media to bite on the “lower government spending” part of the CBO report and ignore everything else. They also expected the media to frame the protests at town-halls as “outside agitators are shrill”.

    • It fails if we keep their feet to the fire and call protest etc. well it has a better chance of failing then

    • mausium

      Probably because the outliers are, as we see time and again so few in number.

  • Thrax

    My best hope at this point is that the parliamentarian kills the Cruz amendment, and Cruz and company walk as a result. Possible that the parliamentarian would get overruled, but McConnell knows that that would be tantamount to abolishing the filibuster–just jam anything you want into a reconciliation bill.

    (Question: why can’t the Dems ask the CBO to score the revised bill? It’s being reported that McConnell is going to get a fake score from HHS instead, but the CBO doesn’t only answer to McConnell, as far as I know.)

    • Steve LaBonne

      Schumer is pretty smart. I’m sure he’s prepared to ask for a CBO score the minute it becomes clear that Yertle isn’t going to.

    • Pat

      And then McConnell can blame Cruz for Obamacare failing. Maybe that’s why he put Cruz in charge of selling his amendment…

    • JKTH

      CBO will score it at some point (I don’t see why they wouldn’t), they just might not get the legislation in time to do a score before the vote, so the GOP will just point to the bullshit HHS score. By the time the CBO score shows that it’s bullshit, it won’t matter.

      • mausium

        Yeah, I’d wondered how quickly the CBO would become “fake news”, I didn’t have to wait long.

    • NonyNony

      My understanding is that the CBO score is going to take a while (as it always does) and the end-run to HHS will occur while CBO is scoring the bill. The plan would be for their fake math to be what gets voted on and when the CBO numbers come out then Fox News would push hard on the HHS score while the rest of the media presents stories along the lines of “CBO says the world is round, HHS says the world is flat” and the water is muddy enough that Republican moderates don’t get ousted. That’s also what the delay is about – holding off on it until after the next few election cycles makes it an easier pill to swallow for Senators in competitive states. McConnell knows that the more distance you put between the vote and the actual economic problems that arise from the vote, the less likely the voters are to correctly be able to affix blame.

      (I suspect in his dream scenario, Trump loses marginally in 2020 so Republicans retain the Senate and House and the Democratic president takes the full brunt of the blame for everything they’ve done over the next few years. The timing was off with W – the economic collapse would have suited the GOP better if it had happened on McCain’s watch after taking the reigns from W or on Obama’s watch. Happening right at the end of W’s tenure was poor timing.)

      • rm_rm_rm

        They always have the low-information voters in mind. All my red-state acquaintances know about health care is that Obama screwed it up, and "government" should never have gotten involved with it in the first place, and Rand Paul says he's trying to fix the mess. And why can't the parties just come together as loyal regular Americans?

    • The parliamentarian has already declared that they can take the House bill, amend it with the current Senate version, and pass it via reconciliation.

      http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/senate-parliamentarian-backs-republicans-health-law-question

      The parliamentarian doesn’t rule on amendments to the bill – once the original bill is declared passable via reconcilation, they can add any amendments they like. Including the Cruz amendment.

      • Scott Mc

        Wait, whut? So what’s the point of any of this anyway? Wouldn’t that mean you could get any bill through the house and senate then add whatever amendment you wanted to do anything?

        • As long as you have a compliant parliamentarian. Which McConnell has. She’s NOT a neutral party.

  • Denverite

    I’m really not sure how Heller is going to be bought off. If he votes for Trumpcare, he loses his seat. Period. I’m not sure what solves that particular Meereenese Knot.

    • kindasorta

      A seat or two on a board of directors with a huge attendant salary might ease the hurt a little.

    • Joe Paulson

      If he doesn’t, does he get primaried?

      • kindasorta

        Sandoval has expanded Medicaid, and recently had to veto a Medicare-for-all bill sent to him by his state legislature. I think the general election is more of a consideration for Heller than the primary.

    • witlesschum

      But if you’re him don’t you have to consider the fact he might well lose his seat one way or the other? And plan for post-Senate life accordingly by pleasing Republican elites who can give him cushy ways of making millions. It’s scary.

      • Joe Paulson

        So, what does it take to please Republican elites in Nevada?

        • witlesschum

          I’d assume same as anywhere, tax cuts for the wealthy and public fidelity to conservative social priorities.

          • Joe Paulson

            Not sure — Nevada seems a bit different. It’s like Collins and Maine. There is some room to be old time-y establishment Republican regarding certain things.

    • Scott Lemieux

      He may well think he’s losing anyway.

      • rewenzo

        Looking at the map, he must know the Democrats will push everything possible into the Nevada race because that’s the most plausible gain.

        • postmodulator

          If he genuinely thinks he has no shot in 2018, voting for it so he can get rich as a private citizen is, unfortunately, the smart move. If he votes against it, the Dems still come at him with both barrels; they have to. And his odds in an off-year election with an unpopular president of his own party in a bluish purple state are pretty bad.

          • rewenzo

            When you put it like this, the really smart play is for Heller to switch parties.

            • Denverite

              I’ve had this thought.

            • Murc

              He’d have to navigate the Democratic primary then. How well did that work for Specter?

              • SatanicPanic

                I wonder if people wouldn’t look at the results of Sestak vs. Toomey and take a pass on primarying him. Probably not.

                • Domino

                  Pretty sure I’ve read Harry Reid stated that Jacky Rosen, who currently holds the NV-03 House seat, was the candidate Dems should go with. I can’t imagine she’d pass an attempt from going from a 50-50 House district to a Senate seat in a purple-been-leaning-blue-more-and-more State.

                • SatanicPanic

                  Fair point.

              • postmodulator

                Right, and Heller is a good bit more conservative than Specter.

              • rewenzo

                He could make a deal with the Dems to avoid a substantive primary.

                • SatanicPanic

                  FWIW I’d welcome anyone into the party who has a hand in wrecking Trumpcare.

                • postmodulator

                  FWIW I’d welcome anyone into the party who has a hand in wrecking Trumpcare.

                  Personally, I’d be fine with the Dems making this deal, then fucking him and primarying him anyway. They’re not giving out sportsmanship awards in the American political system these days.

                • SatanicPanic

                  Even better!

                • Murc

                  This is nearly impossible to do unless you buy off the specific candidates involved, given the bottom-up nature of primaries these days. The Nevada Democratic Party actually could not stop one of their own from going “no, fuck you, I don’t care what deals you’ve made, I’m not going to allow this Republican Judas to just walk in, and I’m taking my case directly to the voters.”

              • rm_rm_rm

                Go independent and caucus with Democrats.

            • efgoldman

              the really smart play is for Heller to switch parties.

              Who’s the last one who actually survived (politically) by going from GOP to Dem? Jeffords? Maybe Linc Chaffee?
              Nighthorse Campbell went the other way, as did, I think, a couple of the old traitor state racists.

            • Just_Dropping_By

              That’s what I’ve been wondering about — basically a reverse Ben Nighthorse Campbell: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Nighthorse_Campbell (Note that after he switched parties, he won reelection by what was at the time the largest margin for a statewide race in Colorado history, so it’s possible to switch parties and thrive if you do it right.)

    • If he votes for Trumpcare, he might lose the general, but will get a cushy lobbying job or some other form of wingnut welfare. And could still run for office in the future.

      If he votes *against* Trumpcare, his career is FINISHED. Guaranteed primary loss, blackballed on the lobbying and think tank circuit, etc. No wingnut welfare for him.

  • kindasorta

    Shelly Moore-Capito’s people know how important the federal share of Medicaid is. If only because I’ve told them, three times a week since the whole wretched thing began.

    We have a Republican statehouse that can barely put a budget together because of its idiotic priors regarding taxes. Medicaid is 12% of that budget, and the federal share of Medicaid is over three-quarters of that. If this thing passes, in conjunction with decreasing demand for non-metallurgical coal and our legislature shifting from an income tax to a tax on goods and services, we will crater all our public services at once, not just hospitals or treatment facilities. In a state where more people die than are born, and move out rather than move in, this is fatal.

    • Taylor

      If your state is going to die, better it die quickly and reduce the surplus population.

  • rewenzo

    I don’t understand the concept of being the first to claim the golden tickets. Why does it matter who claims them first? Why should Dean Heller look worse in front of the caucus than Ron Paul and Susan Collins because Paul and Collins betrayed the caucus first? Heller can always say it was Ron Paul’s fault.

    • postmodulator

      One odd thing here is that Rand Paul is actually standing on principle; I don’t think he loses his next election just because he voted for this abomination. Which I would think would piss off the Senators who are putting their necks on the line. In essence he’s using up a golden ticket he doesn’t really need.

      • rewenzo

        I think he’s trying to have it both ways. If he votes for it he may very well lose his seat because it would devastate Kentucky, a Medicaid expansion state.

        If he was actually acting out of principle, the libertarian douchebag actually should support the BCRA because it’s the biggest rollback of the welfare state he is likely to see. If Rand Paul cannot vote for this out of libertarian conviction he can never vote for anything.

        • postmodulator

          If he votes for it he may very well lose his seat because it would devastate Kentucky, a Medicaid expansion state.

          If that were a serious risk, McConnell would have made a half-assed attempt to pass this, then tabled it forever.

        • Murc

          If he votes for it he may very well lose his seat because it would devastate Kentucky, a Medicaid expansion state.

          The good people of Kentucky voted in a governor who explicitly ran on dismantling health care in Kentucky. So I wouldn’t count on this.

          • twbb

            “Huh?! I didn’t mean MY healthcare.”

        • Just_Dropping_By

          it’s the biggest rollback of the welfare state he is likely to see

          Except that it enshrines other parts of the welfare state under a bipartisan umbrella, which is why all or substantially all libertarian-leaning media outlets are generally against the bill.

        • mausium

          Him and his daddy loved them some pork.

  • Rob in CT

    Righteous rant from Krugthulu today, screaming into the void.

    In other words, their whole political strategy has been based on lies – not shading the truth, not spinning, but pretending to want exactly the opposite of what they actually want.

    And this strategy was wildly successful, right up to the moment when Republicans finally got a chance to put their money – or actually your money – where their mouths were. The trouble they’re having therefore has nothing to do with tactics, or for that matter with Trump. It’s what happens when many years of complete fraudulence come up against reality.

    • sanjait

      Sometimes we need to be reminded of things that should be seen as obvious.

      • efgoldman

        Sometimes we need to be reminded of things that should be seen as obvious.

        The problem is, the people that most need to read and absorb Krugman’s wisdom wouldn’t allow the NYT in their houses to train puppies, let alone read it.
        Epistemic closure is particularly rampant among RWNJ congresspersons.

    • CP

      Great blog post. His NYTimes column yesterday touched on some of the same, but this is where he really cuts loose. It also touches on the futility of arguing with Republicans – they’re not arguing in good faith anyway.

  • sanjait

    McConnell thinks deferring some tax cuts until a later bill and adding an Upton maneuver on opioid funding (not-so-subtly signaling support for poor whites over poor others) is enough to pass the bill.

    I feel we are at one of those points where outcomes can swing on small things, like the passing notions of individual GOP Senators, and alternate universes within the multiverse will significantly diverge.

  • P Gustaf

    I was briefly pleasantly surprised. I predicted that the golden tickets would be handed out, the vote would be 51-50, and the Kill the Poors Act would go forward as planned. When it was obvious that the initial bill wasn’t going to pass, my cynicism momentarily melted. I should have known better. Fool me once…

    • mongolia

      they still need to get 7-10 undecideds to all vote yes, most seem to not really want to vote for it, and this is before we get a terrible cbo score that shows that their amendments and bribes do nothing to fix the problems.

      there’s probably a 5-15 % chance this thing passes. that’s about 40 % too high, but the way it’s talked about makes it sounds like there’s only 1 holdout that needs to be bought off.

      without a cbo score and without an imminent plan for voting on motions to proceed and whatnot, there’s nothing but gossip going on. once we get the cbo score, this moves to the front of the news cycle and with that we’ll hopefully have 5 or so of the undecideds all say this isn’t good enough, and mcconnell takes another L.

    • mausium

      The poors wouldn’t be dead and penniless fast enough obviously.

  • MichaelDrew

    So now we’re on the verge again?

    • CP

      I have a feeling that in the best case scenario, in which we get out of the Trump era with the ACA still intact, we’ll still have spent most of the Trump era “on the verge,” as they continue to bring this up again and again.

  • Hondo

    I don’t wish ill, or suffering on anyone, but when we start seeing people crying on TV about how their child, or their spouse, or whatever are dying of cancer and cannot afford the treatments, I am going to have a hard time sympathizing. If they are republicans, they are getting exactly what they asked for. They were obligated to take care of their children, and they failed to do so by voting to end their own ability to obtain medical care. If their child dies from a treatable illness, that’s on them. They are getting what they asked for. We tried to stop them from pushing their loved one off a cliff, but we failed. It’s just like that idiot woman who voted for Trump, and then complained when her husband was deported. Fuck her. But the stakes here are higher, children will die, and that makes me sad and angry.
    On the other hand, a lot of good people who didn’t ask for this are going to suffer and die as well. That is the greater tragedy. It causes me to feel utter contempt for Trump supporters. The worst of these are guys I know and work with, friends with $200,000 homes and six figure salaries and good medical insurance. I know it’s good insurance because I just racked up about $275,000 in bills, and it got covered. These Trump supporters, the ones who have it good and have nothing to fucking complain about are the ones I hate the most, even though many of my friends fit this description.
    I don’t know what else to do at this point. Anger is getting the better of me, and a dark part of me is hoping for Trump supporters to suffer greatly. I guess it’s similar to Sherman’s troops making the extra effort to punish the people of South Carolina as the army pushed through from Atlanta. They all remembered how South Carolina was the first to secede, and first to fire on the US, and they wanted to make them pay.
    What else can you do with such people? A book I read recently that had various writings about the Arctic and Antarctic had one story about Greenland and how one day a guys dog team got away from him and he had to chase it down while all his friends sat and watched. An American researcher who was there asked why would no one help. He was told that if we bail him out, no lessons would be learned. That’s about how I feel. These Trump supporters need to suffer for their decision. Otherwise, no lessons will be learned.

    • rm

      I understand your feeling, though I try not to go there. I know some considerably less well-off Trump supporters who never signed up for Obamacare because it’s Godless Socialism With Death Panel Abortions. Basically, christianists who think state power is illegitimate because churches and male heads of families are God’s true authorities, that public schools and child protective services are the shock troops of atheist oppression.

      So, they (self-employed, natch) refuse to get insurance. Then Dad gets cancer or Young Adult Kid had a serious car wreck. So, yeah, they are asking for help because they can’t possibly pay these astronomical bills, and they are suffering. But part of me is thinking ARE YOU GONNA SIGN UP NOW, MOTHERFUCKERS??? YOU COULD HAVE BEEN COVERED FOR THIS.

    • CP

      The worst of these are guys I know and work with, friends with $200,000 homes and six figure salaries and good medical insurance. I know it’s good insurance because I just racked up about $275,000 in bills, and it got covered. These Trump supporters, the ones who have it good and have nothing to fucking complain about are the ones I hate the most, even though many of my friends fit this description.
      I don’t know what else to do at this point. Anger is getting the better of me, and a dark part of me is hoping for Trump supporters to suffer greatly.

      I have a few people like that. But frankly, for me, none of these people fit the “friends” description anymore and largely for that reason. At most, there’s one or two people that I tolerate because, be they friends or family, I have so many people in common with them that I’ll be running into them my whole life one way or another, so I learn to small talk and bullshit and put up with them. But I don’t think of them as friends. I do have a few right-leaning friends, mostly of the “disillusioned conservative but can’t make the leap to liberal” variety, but what they all have in common is that none of them vote Republican anymore. You can’t vote to kill me or reduce me to poverty and still be my friend. It really is that simple.

      • Hondo

        “You can’t vote to kill me or reduce me to poverty and still be my friend.”
        Good point that I have heard before.

    • Paul Thomas

      I kind of agree with this. Like, at some point people need to be hit over the head with the fact that elections have consequences, and voting for s***ty people means you will get a s***ty government.

      It’s precisely the fact that they HAVEN’T been able to enact their agenda that’s allowed national Republicans to spin ever further and further off into crazyville without any electoral consequences. (Well, that and they’re just vastly better politicians than the Democrats, but that kind of goes without saying at this point.)

  • reattmore

    According to what I’m reading, only Paul and Collins among the Republicans–the two recipients of the “Golden Snitches”–are presently willing to go on the record as opposing the bill.

  • DAS

    Wouldn’t now be a time for people in Nevada to start writing letters to Heller? If he gets many more calls/e-mails from people who are opposed to the BCRA than from people supporting it, he might get too afraid to support the BCRA. I presume Heller wants to be re-elected, doesn’t he?

    • He has no chance of getting re-elected. He either loses the primary or he loses the general, depending how he votes.

      The difference is that if he votes for the BCRA, he gets a cushy job afterwards.

      • DAS

        OK. So maybe he’s the wrong target. Surely, though, at least one of the GOoPs who didn’t get a golden ticket is hoping to get re-elected and has a decent enough chance of getting re-elected. At the very least, except for Republicans in whom (to use Boswell’s phrase about Johnson) a spirit of contradiction lives, writing letters wouldn’t hurt.

  • DAS

    Is there any way the BCRA can be amended to require that any legislature who votes for the BCRA/AHCA cannot have government health insurance (or health insurance through a spouse) nor can obtain any “special deal” on health coverage, but rather has to purchase it through the individual marketplace that they claim the BCRA/AHCA makes work so well? I know that your typical Congresscritter/Senator can afford to purchase their own health insurance, but I still wanna see the GOoPs try and navigate the health insurance marketplace they are trying to force the rest of us to navigate.