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“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief

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It looks like the vote on the motion to proceed on the literal death-political suicide pact the Republicans have been trying to ram through Congress will happen at 2:30. We shouldn’t forget, even as it becomes normal, how disgusting this is, procedurally as well as substantively:

We are hurtling toward a health-care disaster in the next 36 hours or so, for the worst possible reason. Cynicism is seldom completely absent from the operation of politics, but this is truly a unique situation. Republicans are set to remake one-sixth of the American economy, threaten the economic and health security of every one of us and deprive tens of millions of people of health-care coverage, all with a bill they haven’t seen, couldn’t explain and don’t even bother to defend on its merits.

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I’ve often argued that Republicans in Congress aren’t serious about policy, but this is taking their unseriousness to the level of farce. After complaining for years that the ACA was “rammed through” Congress — in a process that involved a full year of debate, dozens of hearings in both houses and 188 Republican amendments to the bill debated and accepted — they’re going to vote on a sweeping bill that had zero hearings and that they saw only hours before, because who cares what’s in it? It’s only the fate of the country at stake. If taking away health-care coverage from 20 million or 30 million Americans is what it takes to stave off a primary challenge from some nutball tea partier, then that’s what they’ll do.

No one would argue that keeping promises isn’t important. But Republicans have elevated the idea of keeping their promise to repeal the ACA to the point where it’s drained of all substance. You can see it in the way they talk about the various iterations of their bill. You seldom hear a Republican defend it on the terms of the bill itself. They don’t say, “Here’s how this bill will bring down deductibles” or “Here’s how the bill will take care of those who lose their insurance” or “Here’s how the bill will lower costs.” That’s partly because their bills won’t do any of those things, but mostly because they just don’t care.

Instead, what they say is, “We made a promise, and we’re going to keep it.” If Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) handed them a bill saying that all children on Medicaid would be taken to the desert, buried up to their necks in the sand, and covered in fire ants, at least 40 of them would say, “It may not be perfect, but we have to keep the promise we made to repeal Obamacare, so I’m voting yes.”

Or, as Eric Levitz puts it:

The gambit here is dictated by the same logic that would lead a lovestruck co-worker to stop rehearsing the right words, down the vodka, and drunk-dial Kevin from marketing; or, more appropriately, that would lead a first-time hit man to stop weighing the pros and cons of what he’s about to do, finish the whiskey, and head up the driveway. The point is to make a beeline for the point of no return.

Only, in this instance, when the irrevocable’s been done, there won’t be awkward eye contact by the water cooler, or a single life cut short, but a haphazardly restructured health-care system, 20 million more people without insurance, a gaping new hole in the Great Society, tens of thousands of Americans lost to preventable deaths — and a bit more budgetary space for passing giant tax cuts for the rich.

McConnell’s latest scam seems to be to try to pass “skinny repeal” — that is, a plan to effectively destroy the individual insurance market, while leaving Medicaid alone for now. Remember, though, that the Medicaid cuts can and probably would be restored by the conference committee, and once again the country would have to rely on 3 Senate “moderates” not to capitulate in exchange for nothing. And maybe they won’t this time, but the leadership betting that they will has a strong track record of success.

…Dean Heller to vote yea before the crank wears off. MTP almost certain to pass.

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