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Saving the ACA


The vote early this morning joins the passage of the ACA itself and Obergefell v. Hodges as the most important achievements of American progressive activism of the 21st century:

This is, above all, a victory for the American public. The so-called “skinny repeal” bill that was killed this morning would have led to 16 million people losing their health insurance and caused premiums to skyrocket. It would have resulted in millions of people losing employer-provided coverage and destroyed the individual insurance markets in many states. It would have savagely cut funding for women’s health services and public health funding. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called it a “disaster” — so you can imagine what people who didn’t vote for it thought.

And a bill modified by a conference committee if this bill had passed would have almost certainly been even worse. It probably would have restored some or all of the draconian Medicaid cuts in the House and Senate bills, and eliminated even more of the Affordable Care Act’s crucial consumer-protection regulations.

So the most important recent expansion of the American welfare state has been preserved. It’s almost impossible to overstate the magnitude of this policy victory. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved. A great deal of suffering and countless medical bankruptcies have been averted. Dedicated protesters were celebrating outside of Congress, and they were right to.

This bill will also have a substantial political fallout. Oddly, McConnell did not release any further marginal votes even after he lost his majority. McCain and Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — the latter two of whom voted no on the motion to proceed earlier in the week — were the only Republicans to vote “no.” The two most vulnerable Senate Republicans in 2018, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada, cast futile “yea” votes. As Pema Levy of Mother Jonesobserved: “The best outcome for Dems tonight was for bill to fail, while top targets Heller and Flake vote aye. Amazingly, that’s what happened.” And numerous House Republicans who face tough re-election fights in 2018 also voted for an incredibly unpopular bill without getting anything in return.

This doesn’t mean that Democrats will take over Congress in 2018. The Senate map is brutal for the Democrats, who may not be able to win the three seats they need to take over even in a wave election. The heavily gerrymandered House will also be a tough fight, although a winnable one.

But Democrats can worry about 2018 later. This was a major victory. Collins, McCain, and Murkowski deserve a lot of credit for bucking their party and doing what’s right for the country. Deserving even more credit is every member of the Democratic caucus in the House and Senate, all of whom were steadfastly opposed to every terrible Republican proposal. And the most credit goes to the many citizens who gave so much. Supporters of the ACA took to the streets, called, and wrote, and made the public aware of what a fiasco passing this bill would have been. McConnell’s failure is above all a triumph of democracy over a party whose leadership expressed stunning contempt for democratic norms.

Don’t kid yourself: the Republican Party remains a major threat to the American welfare state and democratic norms. The ACA might well have been saved my a margin of 1,000 votes in New Hampshire. But this is a victory eminently worth savoring.

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  • Today is the happiest I’ve been since November 8, 2016.

      • Peter Curtin

        I just see a black space after the sentence. See a number of those on this site in comments. Are those images, videos?

        • It’s a tweet in this instance. On the mobile version of the desktop site, it should show up as “[Twitter nym] on Twitter” in blue, and clicking it will bring up the full link – not sure why it doesn’t show up for you.

          • wherewhich the werewitch

            various forms of adblockers or script disablers will prevent these items from showing up.

  • MacCheerful

    I woke up this morning with a strange feeling. Not the Doom Thinking, or the Bitter Feeling, or the Cynical Musings, but something different, weird. It reminded me of a thing the Old Ones would say people felt in the Times Before. A feeling that perhaps there is something positive that might happen in the future, that life could get better. I think they called it “hope”.

    • Thirtyish

      For me it was hope, but also sweet, sweet victory. A feeling I have not experienced since the days of the Clinton/Shitgibbon debates. Let’s raise a toast to this victory actually having staying power.

  • Spiny

    Absentee Senator Cory Gardner also voted yes – to literally anything put in front of him. Motherfucker is going down in 2020.

  • TG_Chicago

    I feel like there were more than 3 senators who wanted to kill this thing, but most didn’t want their fingerprints on it. I believe that if only 2 defections would have killed it, there would have been 2 defections. If 5 had been needed, they’d have gotten 5. It was just a matter of who was going to get their hands dirty. McCain — not likely going to run again, eager to bolster his Maverick image at the end of his career — was a logical choice.

    That said, of course McConnell and the majority of GOP senators absolutely wanted this to pass.

    • malraux

      The weird thing is how they didn’t tell McConnell they were scuttling it before the vote.

      • Craigo

        Within their conferences, Ryan isn’t respected, and McConnell isn’t liked.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Although, still, McConnell could have told Flake and Heller to hold back until everyone else voted. And given the delay in the vote McConnell surely knew he probably didn’t have the votes when he called it.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          Yeah this is one of the biggest mysteries of the night. And it makes me wonder if he didn’t just let them all hang themselves in a fit of pique.

          • BaronvonRaschke

            That cannot overlooked as a possibility. There’s also the chance he was a dear in the headlights, in denial.

            • CP

              McConnell has been called lots of things, but I don’t think he’s a dear.

              • BaronvonRaschke

                Oops. Did not fix it because I liked your reply. My epithets of choice would be racist, malignant nihilist.

                • DrS

                  It’s a perfectly cromulent use of ‘dear’, in the mode of ‘bless his heart’.
                  The GOP is just full of lil dearies.

          • SpiderDan

            The fact that McConnell did not change his vote to No means he can’t bring it back up, which means he’s done with this (for now).

          • djw

            I tend to think of McConnell as a bit cooler and more calculating than that, but I certainly don’t have a better explanation.

        • BaronvonRaschke

          As I make rounds through the Hart and Russell Buildings this morning with a friend who is GOP lobbyist, the air is funereal. I stopped by J-Mac’s office to check in. When I asked about Sen. Flake, they said he has to decide on his own. Ouch. Have not gotten to Heller’s office. He must be a blithering idiot to vote for an unpopular bill that had already failed.

        • BaronvonRaschke

          Yes. Apparently McCain did not budge all day.

    • HugeEuge

      I’ve been wondering the along the same lines. Beyond, that I also wonder (fervently hope) that we’ve passed peak McConnell. He lied and cheated, violated all sorts of legislative norms — starting with no hearings, no committees, no floor debate — got multiple do-overs but still couldn’t ram this through. Part of that may be attributable to contempt for Trump but there’s now a bit of blood in the water around McConnell. Rep Mo Brooks who is running for Senate nomination in Alabama has even said it might be time for Mitch to go as Republican leader. I truly hope that they have a circular firing squad with live ammo race to succeed him as majority leader.

      • John F

        The FreeDumbers accuse McConnell of being a RINO….

        You think the House and Senate are poorly led now? If the FreeDumbers got one of theirs in teb leadership slots, total gridlock, nothing on anything would pass

        • HugeEuge

          I can only hope

    • Captain Oblivious

      McCain could have killed it by staying home, too. As someone with an aggressive cancer of my own, though far more treatable than McCain’s, I can tell you that the temptation to put yourself first when you may have weeks or months left is really powerful.

      Yes, McCain’s been a duplicitous asshole his whole political career, and Collins and Murkowski should be getting the top-line kudos, but the cynicism about McCain’s vote is, IMO, very unfair.

      • Scott Lemieux

        His motives are just as irrelevant when he does a good thing as when he does a bad thing. And if he wanted to do this in a way that would maximally humiliate Trump and McConnell…good!

        • Peter Curtin

          Senator McCain prefers Presidents who aren’t a**holes.

          • so-in-so

            I like it, but Obama wasn’t an a**hole and McCain didn’t appear to like him very much either.

      • TopsyJane

        You’re not a star senator and former presidential candidate. He was putting himself first by making a big production of coming back for the vote, collecting hosannas from the press for what is likely the last time. He got praise for his speech, but there was also a certain amount of blowback, and maybe it sunk in that the horrible bill was going to overshadow everything else in his legacy and he was the one who had made it possible. Had he just stayed home he would have quietly killed the vote. Now he is center stage.

        That said, he did the right thing at the last minute, for whatever combination of reasons worthy and unworthy, and for that we owe him thanks. I am glad he was around long enough to do that.

      • SpiderDan

        I think McCain’s vote on the motion to proceed AND his performance today was specifically designed to inflict maximum political damage on Trump.

        best served cold, etc.

        • JustRuss

          This, and we’re talking about the congressman who holds the record for appearances on the Sunday gabfests. He loves attention. Sure he could have stayed in bed and let the bill fail, but what fun is that? Hell, for all we know he was working behind Mitch’s back to get his fellow “moderates” to stand firm.

          Whatever his motivation, I’m glad he came to Washington to rub Trump and Mitch’s nose in their fail. Hopefully the hosannas to his maverickness will inspire future fence-sitters when the next horrible piece of legislation comes down the pike…which won’t take long, I expect.

  • CP

    So, uh – what’s the odds of them bouncing back from this?

    I only ask because there’s been at least twice this year that the ACA-Repeal was pronounced dead, only for it to come back shortly, with the supposed no-votes turning out to be easily bought. Forgive me if it’s paranoid, but I have to ask. My inner pessimist (whom I’m trying hard to convince myself is an inner pessimist and not an inner realist) can’t help but conjure up a scenario in which next week, McCain and McConnell reappear on TV to say that they’ve ironed out their differences and, with one or two tweaks, the bill or something like it now passes.

    • Rob in CT

      I don’t think it’s paranoid at all. Or perhaps it’s good to remember that even paranoids have enemies.

      • CP

        “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face.”
        – Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden.

    • twbb

      To my (admittedly minimal) understanding gained from googling right now, they can only vote on this via reconciliation once. I really should get a better handle on this, considering I’m shopping around for polisci postdocs…

      • CP

        Well, that’s a relief, if true. Though I suppose they can always try for a non-reconciliation bill.

        • humanoidpanda

          But technically, they didn’t vote on it – they voted on a motion to replace the AHCA with the skinny bill. So on theory, they could get back, but they face two problems:
          1. Time. There is a lot of stuff to be done until the end of fiscal year, and they also want to get to taxes.
          2. Math. Mccain is starting treatment next week, so they have 51 votes. They therefore would need something that captures Murkowski and or Collins without losing Lee and or Paul.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Yeah, understand the paranoia, but this is dead and McConnell knows it.

          • BaronvonRaschke

            It is dead for this year. There is no stomach for getting anywhere near ACA repeal any time soon. It’s too divisive and they don’t have the votes or any consensus on how to proceed.

            • DTGstl314

              I think it might be politically pretty tough for them to bring it back up next year, given that we’ll only be months away from the midterms by then. Passing it now would have given them at least some insulation of time, which is certainly not nothing given how short our collective attention spans are.

              • BaronvonRaschke

                FWIW, I see it the same way.

          • Peter Curtin

            Aren’t we scheduled to hit the debt ceiling at around the end of September? if the Freedom-ers haven’t been muzzled, that could be another internal GOP shitshow.

            • so-in-so

              Oh good, the Freedumbers can once again threaten to tank the economy if they don’t get to kill thousands.

        • twbb

          Yeah, I have little clue at what’s going on at this point, procedurally. I will only say Senate parliamentarian sounds like a terrible job.

          • humanoidpanda

            The fact that McConnell wouldn’t even consider either attacking the filibuster or overruling the parliamentarian is really interesting.

            • Ithaqua

              Well, yes, it is, come to think of it. Maybe he didn’t have the votes anyway so stuck with the norms, and if he had had 50 votes last night, he still didn’t have to change the norms. But some of the earlier votes would have been better for him perhaps? Or maybe a small group of Senators told him he’d better not do it. Given the events of yesterday, I’d guess he’d have lost McCain’s vote if he had.

              • NonyNony

                Getting rid of the filibuster would be a real problem for McConnell. It’s very likely that by 2020 Dems will have control of the Congress and the White House again, possibly in a wave similar to what happened in 2008 when Obama came into office.

                Imagine what Obama could have done if the Dems had only needed 50 votes plus Biden to pass things. Even with the Democrats we had then, things could have been pushed astoundingly far exceedingly fast. The devil would be in the details, but there would have been 2 full years of Democratic dominance.

                Now imagine that in an era where Republicans have been saying “fuck comity” for over a decade. Imagine a post-Trump Congress with even 55 Dems in the Senate, a majority in the House and a Dem President. It would be McConnell’s worst nightmare.

                And he knows it is likely to happen too. Because Trump is worse than W was. If he decides to get rid of the filibuster then you know he’s retiring because there’s no way he’d want to try to be the Minority Leader in a Congress like that – even if it only lasted 2 years.

                • jmwallach

                  I share your taste for recognizing that the conventions have evolved. Unfortunately the party that accepts biological evolution doesn’t think it applies to institutions afaik.

            • SpiderDan

              I think even McConnell is smart enough to know that allowing Dems to pass legislation with 50+1 will always be much harder than getting 50+1 to repeal it. Hell, the ACA got 60 and he can’t even get to 50!

          • BaronvonRaschke

            The pay is good, and there are lots of perks. I’d take it in a heartbeat.

            • twbb

              The worst part of litigating cases to me was figuring out what bizarre point we were at in terms of procedure. I do not miss it.

    • Downpup E

      Now they go back to trying to kill it through deliberate maladministration.
      As opposed to everything else, where the maladministration is due to incompetence, indifference or being in somebody’s pocket.
      Please to pretend this is a rallying cry, not a buzzkill.

    • dmsilev

      It’s possible, but wouldn’t be easy. First, there’s the calendar. The reconciliation bill that allows them to even try with 50 votes expires in just two months and there are a lot of other things the Senate needs to do in those two months. Secondly, and more importantly, they got to the point of the skinny repeal absurdity because McConnell, after weeks of arm-twisting, couldn’t find an actual bill that 50 of his members would agree to. That hasn’t changed.

      • mattmcirvin

        I still don’t know what they think would have happened if this had gone to the conference committee. Would the House’s input have made it more likely to get to a bill everyone would agree on?

    • Joe Paulson

      It’s healthy to be on guard.

      Also, let’s not forget there still are many ways to screw over ACA, including by the hacks in charge of applying it not enforcing it properly. Trump in effect has said he’ll do that.

      • Junipermo

        Yes, and I called my two Dem senators and my Dem rep to remind them to be vigilant about that. I don’t know what the Dems can do to fight back against the sabotage, but I have confidence that Schumer will be on it, and keep the caucus on it too.

        • twbb

          Telegraph that it will absolutely be an issue they hammer in the next election.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      I think that the risk is real. But if there were a few tweaks that could get the bill back on track, I think that they would have done it by now. Still, my inner pessimist is keeping me alert too.

    • they have to try again, at least before the midterms.

  • Joe Paulson

    “McCain told Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at 10 p.m.”

    Is that Pacific Standard Time?

    • Scott Lemieux


      • Joe Paulson

        The final vote was after 1AM (EST), which is why I asked.

        10 PM was when the text of the “skinny repeal” was released. If McCain told Schumer then, the hours afterwards comes off as political theater and not much else. Of course, it might not have been a “hard” no. But, still.

        • so-in-so

          Told Schumer, didn’t necessarily tell McConnell. it was Mitch’s circus.

    • jmwallach

      This is really inane and I apologize but we’re in daylight time. I can never remember when the switch happens so I just say Pacific or Eastern.

      • Richard Gadsden

        As a British, I always get confused by the “s” for “standard”, because it stands for “Summer” this side of the Atlantic .

  • MariedeGournay

    This bill would have killed my sister, leaving her without treatment for a debilitating immune disorder. I am relieved, but the rage I feel at those who voted for it smolders still. The fact that we have a political party dedicated to spreading suffering…I usually avoid the word ‘evil’, but my god it’s all I got. They are evil.

    • CP

      I’ve learned a few things from Facebook about friends and acquaintances over the last few days thanks to this bill. One who said that killing this bill would basically kill her as a functioning adult, another who said that the NHS saved her life when she was studying abroad in the U.K, from something that would’ve cost an unaffordable amount of $$$ to fix in America.

      “Evil” is absolutely correct.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Yeah, I had a very well-meaning friend posting on Facebook this morning that it is time for us to come together (“us” meaning Democrats) and avoid divisive rhetoric and try to work with the Republicans on moving forward in a positive way. And I was like, uh, what game were you just watching dude? By the grace of the gods the Republicans didn’t get their chance to destroy the lives of millions of people with this bill. There will be no reconciliation with them. It’s time to toss them an anvil.

      • Deborah Bender

        If there is a chance of some bipartisan action to improve choice in the individual markets, it’s worth making the attempt. This vote has changed the political situation for Republicans in Congress, and it might be possible to find enough supporters for minor improvements in the ACA.

        In general, I agree.

        • SpiderDan

          One can only hope that the fever dream of repeal will be over once the GOP concedes to “fixing” the ACA. Then Obamacare joins the ranks of Medicare and SS as a third rail.

        • N__B

          I want Chuckie to offer up a public option and specifically invite his republican colleagues to join him in improving national health care.

          ETA: They won’t, of course, but the spectacle will amuse me. A brief smile might flicker across my lips.

  • sanjait

    Victory lap earned.

    But damn that was close.

    • CP

      That’s what Wellington said after Waterloo.

      Hopefully, this proves as decisive as that was.

  • Malaclypse

    ACA repeal failed on 9 Thermidor.

    • MariedeGournay

      I look forward to the image of McConnell wearing a paper bandage around his head.

      • wjts

        I like the image, but now that I think about it, no way in hell you could plausibly call McConnell “L’Incorruptible“.

    • Lurking Canadian

      Holy crap it totally did. That’s awesome.

  • Sentient AI From The Future

    After reading preening nitwit ted Cruz’s remarks on the vote last night I was compelled to call his office and invite him to perform the Bannon Procedure.

    • Deborah Bender

      i watched it live. Your response was justified.

      • Sentient AI From The Future

        Been calling state reps with this too. Scaramucci is a godsend in that I can maintain civility while invoking these euphemisms derived from their own fucking words.

        • Richard Gadsden

          BBC has been having fun coming up with family-friendly but accurate euphemisms. I think the Bannon one was “a form of oral stimulation that requires a very flexible back”.

  • Deborah Bender

    “Supporters of the ACA took to the streets, called, and wrote”

    And committed civil disobedience, and were dragged out of wheelchairs and arrested.

    • so-in-so

      But we are assured by some that protest doesn’t work.
      Could it be that those are people who don’t want it to work?

      • Deborah Bender

        “The People, united,
        Will sometimes win and sometimes lose.”

        And that goes for any particular tactic The People employ.

  • UnsaltedSinner

    I’m glad McCain came around in the end, but let’s be clear: Voting against an atrocious abomination of a bill that would hurt millions and kill thousands should not be considered an act of heroism. It’s simply the absolute minimum requirement for anyone who aspires to be a decent human being. The bar could not be lower, and yet only three Republican senators managed to crawl over it.

    • Junipermo

      Agreed. It’s not an act of heroism. But I’m glad the three Republicans did it.

      Now what we need to do is to flip Heller, Gardner, and Flake’s seats to blue.

      • TopsyJane

        And let us take a moment to applaud the true maverick, who has gotten relatively little press attention since her position latterly has been a steady and strong “No,” Susan Collins. She has gubernatorial ambitions, true, but still it took nerve. And it shows that as a governor she’ll be putting her state first.

        • mountaintraveler

          Yeah, a far better Senator than limp wrist Olympia Snowe, who decried partisanship all the while being just as partisan, and then not even running after all so she had nothing to lose in the first place being non partisan. Go figure.

        • Junipermo

          I also want to give a shout out to Lisa Murkowski, who also didn’t waver. And more props to her for standing up to Zinke from the Interior Dept., who was either too stupid to realize how dumb it was to threaten the senator that holds jurisdiction over his department, or too weak and cowardly to tell the White House that he would issue no such threat.

          • NonyNony

            Right. Of all of the Republican Senators, I think Murkowski comes out of this looking the best. She went full throttle on this not because of any larger ambition from what I can tell, but because it would have been really goddamn painful to the people of Alaska. The people who she is there to represent and who she is supposed to be looking out for.

    • gocart mozart

      I would like to commend everyone who didn’t drown a puppy yesterday. All the puppies of America are grateful for your heroism in these trying times.

      • Howlin Wolfe

        Especially my puppy, or so she told me.

  • John F

    Trump just tweeted that he’s on his way to Long Island, a land “under siege” by MS-13

    Wait, what? I’m under siege and I never even noticed?

  • DJ

    I see in Politico that “Arch-conservative Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), meanwhile, called for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to step down.”


    I know it’s a little early yet for this discussion, but seriously. The so-called “master tactician” of the Senate fumbled literally every single play on this, arguably from the beginning with the reconciliation path, but certainly by stacking his secret committee with conservatives and not a single woman (at first), and never including Collins and Murkowski. Obviously he wrote them off from the beginning, which gave him not an inch to spare, and then failed to play that self-inflicted hand with any skill whatsoever.

    Isn’t this a catastrophic failure for McConnell and his team–the sort of thing that rides you out of leadership? And what’s the over-under on how long it takes for Orange Julius to tweet that McConnell needs to step aside?

    • SpiderDan

      It turns out that legislation is much harder than obstruction. Who knew?

      Props to Schumer and Pelosi for keeping the troops in line.

      • mattmcirvin

        I was expecting a resumption of the situation we had under George W. Bush, when the Republicans developed discipline on the level of a parliamentary party and started slamming through a lot of legislation on a “50%+1” basis (there was still an informal Senate norm keeping the Democrats from auto-filibustering everything).

        That unification seemingly persisted through the Obama years and the 2010 Tea Party wave. But it was because it was really easy for even a Congress with a large Rabid Puppy wing to obstruct everything and pass bogus symbolic legislation that Obama wouldn’t sign (e. g. repeal the ACA a million times). But these Tea Party people can’t actually legislate for real; they insist on extreme stuff that they can’t get 50 Senate votes for, if it’s really going to become law.

        That probably won’t always be the case, of course. But it seems to be what happened here.

    • Rob in CT

      Yeah, but who else they got?

      • humanoidpanda

        Corbyn is their number two and McConnell kept him in dark

        • sibusisodan

          Please don’t change this typo. It’s marvellous.

        • Anthony Bruck

          If only it were Corbyn!

    • John F

      I don’t think there was anything he could do to pass this, there were things he could have done to have killed it a bit less publicly…

      • DJ

        I think that depends on what you mean by “pass this.” Granted, he probably had no chance to pass a wholesale gutting of medicaid and a trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthy masquerading as health care reform. But couldn’t he count the tea leaves on that one from the beginning? Or the as he just grandstanding all along? Neither looks like leadership at all.

        • Deborah Bender

          I think he had a chance to pass it were it not for Indivisible and other groups adopting Tea Party tactics. If the ACA hadn’t been getting more popular under the radar. If the Democrats had been less united.

    • i think they were all under serious pressure to take these votes because a lot of people in the greater GOP want to get the Senators on record here: yes or no, instead of hiding behind procedural cover. they want to know who they need to primary.

      • efgoldman

        they want to know who they need to primary.

        If the last few cycles are an indication, primary challengers will probably be too extreme even for RWNJ voters – Todd Akin, the witch from Delaware, and the bartering chickens for medical care woman (from Nevada?)

    • sanjait

      It’s a failure, but if they aren’t crazy (a big “if”) then the GOP realizes it was a near impossible task from the start. There is no solution to the question of how to please some Senators who don’t want to be seen supporting big Medicaid cuts and chaos in insurance markets, and those who want to burn everything down. McConnell heaped unprecedented levels of bullshit on the world to cover up that schism but it still wasn’t enough.

      Keep in mind, when Mo Brooks or whoever calls out McConnell or Trump or other party leaders publicly, they might be legitimately angry at leadership, but they might also be posturing about being angry as a show for base voters.

      It’s like how John Boehner had to deal with the Tea Party wing who demanded stuff totally impossible and then would obstruct their own party when they weren’t mollified. Everyone in the party complained about Boehner, but he stayed in that leadership spot for years despite the complaints. I think they secretly knew that the fault for dysfunction wasn’t really his.

      • humanoidpanda

        Brooks is running to succeed Sessions, and McConnell is running ads against him ..

  • SpiderDan

    So will this entire performance quiet the people who insist that If Only Obama Had Tried Harder, he could have forced Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson to vote for a public option?

    Trump tried both the carrot and the stick, and got nowhere.

    • Uncle_Ebeneezer

      Sadly, no. Green Lanternism is a pre-existing condition with the people you refer to.

    • Joe Paulson

      Trump doesn’t really know what he is doing, so that won’t stop the fantasists.

      The whole thing is hard. Republicans won both branches of government and now didn’t have to deal with a veto. But, all the b.s. about ACA being horrible aside, the public actually likes chunk of it. What the Republican ideological bases like is very unpopular. (ETA: even there, some of the Trumpites — such as many of the racists — do like some of ACA and don’t want it to go.) Even now, that causes problems, especially if you don’t have something to use for hate (Obama not being around any more etc.) and diversion.

      • mattmcirvin

        Everybody likes the ban on rejection for preexisting conditions. Nobody likes the mandate. Few seem to accept that these things are logically connected, as long as you’re building a system that leaves some people to buy private insurance.

        • Junipermo

          I wonder if some of the opposition to the mandate would die down if more people were eligible for subsidies to help pay their premiums.

          • NonyNony

            Most of the opposition to the mandate comes from people who have health insurance through their employers. Who are not affected by the mandate at all.

            Of those who are actually impacted by the mandate who oppose it, most of the opposition comes from young men who think it’s unfair that they need to pay for health insurance at all before they turn 40. Because they don’t know how insurance works or because they do know and are greedy leeches.

            A handful of the opposition comes from the left because insurance companies should be destroyed not mandated.

          • mattmcirvin

            Perhaps. But there also has to be education about the subsidies, and the non-expansion states generally are deliberately trying to prevent that.

            I’ve heard people say that they were “too poor for Obamacare” and were being impoverished by the mandate forcing them to buy ruinously expensive private insurance. But if they’re too poor for Obamacare, and not eligible for Medicaid, that means they’re in the Medicaid hole created by the Supreme Court and their state government, and the mandate specifically doesn’t exist for those people–at least, the Obama administration said they wouldn’t enforce it. (Who knows, maybe the Trump administration will just to make them more angry.)

          • mattmcirvin

            …In general, many of the worst things about the Obamacare regime as it exists are the result of intentional, maliciously intended sabotage or misinformation, often a combination of the two. The complexity of the system is a problem because it creates lots of opportunities for that.

      • This has been the thing, for the right: lie in one form or another about what you want or the effects of what you want to the American people at large while winking at your base.

    • My hope is that this vote becomes a very big hammer upon the head of anyone claiming that both sides are equally bad.

      • i still see plenty of “this doesn’t mean anything. the animus between the parties is just for show and the capitalists are out to steal all your…” blahblahblah.

        • Yeah, well, I suppose I am a neoliberal capitalist sellout corporate shill, too, for being glad that 16 million people still have health insurance.

          • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

            Anyone not doing their part to heighten the contradictions is a saboteur and will be summarily executed.

    • humanoidpanda

      The funny thing is that this failure actually shows that presidential leadership is important. A republican president who understood policy on the most basic level and then do PR for it would have probably gotten this through.

      • sanjait

        Though doesn’t Trump get a pass from the press on so much incompetence?

        I feel like his utter lack of any knowledge and his unwillingness to lead his party on the issue were noted by the press but not dwelled upon.

        A different GOP president I expect would be expected and required to lead with semi-competence. Essentially, he would be held to a different standard.

      • sigaba

        A Republican president who understood policy would have never let them put this bill up in the first place. Such a president would probably also have gone for infrastructure and tax cuts first, making Dems take as many tough votes as possible on popular legislation.

      • Hondo

        But those types can’t win a republican primary anymore. That’s why there’s a Freedom Circle Jerk Caucus and why bipartisan fixing of the ACA is not an option even if the Dems agreed to let Reps have the political victory.

    • TopsyJane

      Trump tried them both — incompetently. This was a very close thing. Factor in a more popular president with a better grasp of policy and legislating and an understanding of how to use carrots and sticks effectively and it becomes an even closer thing.

  • gocart mozart
    • sigaba

      Stone cold. So cold.

    • HugeEuge

      In the clip you can see Schumer immediately wave off a couple of Dems who start clapping after McCain votes no. There’s plenty not to like about Chuckie Cheese, though he has been a much better Minority Leader than I ever thought likely, but the guy is smart and he knows when it’s time to take the victory and not gloat publicly and when it’s time to stick in the shiv and gut somebody right in front of the cameras.

    • Joseph Slater


      • TopsyJane

        “Dewey! I’m halved!”

  • DrS
    • Hogan

      Only backwards and in high heels.

  • gocart mozart
  • Kevin

    I went to bed before the vote. I was genuinely shocked this morning to see the vote went that way. Great work by all the activists, and the 48 D senators/Independents for holding strong, and yes, to the 3 Republicans who joined them. I will not say a bad word about any of those 3, and I’ve had plenty to say about 2 of them in the past (Collins and McCain). This is a victory, I hope it lasts.

  • WereBurger

    Is it too much to ask for, that McConnell’s career end ala ala Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons, with him weeping softly into a mirror, removing his turtle makeup?

  • Ash

    I am absolutely thrilled with this outcome – I took a Xanax last night and went to bed early because I couldn’t bear it. I was almost completely sure I’ll wake up to it passing this morning. My many thanks to all the Senators who voted against it (I even have a nice word for fuckface McCain today) and the thousands of protesters who saved millions of lives today and made my Friday bright.

    (On a side note, fuck you Bill Cassidy. So much for the “Jimmy Kimmel” test. On the plus side, the attack ads for his eventual Dem opponent write themselves).

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