The headlines blared that 22 million would lose their healthcare by 2027 (15 million in the next year). After the CBO report exploded like a cluster bomb, Republican senators of nearly every stripe tried to find an escape route through the Trumpcare thicket they themselves had sown.
It’s no wonder then that Mitch McConnell bit the bullet and postponed consideration of the bill until after the ten day Fourth of July recess. Hell, six senators on both the right and center opposed even putting the bill up for debate. But there was a reason why the Machiavellian majority leader kept the BCRA under wraps until the last minute and planned to put the bill up for a vote without public hearings, testimony, or full deliberation, in a mad dash to pass Trumpcare before GOP senators could get an earful from their constituents on the holiday break.
Yet the secrecy backfired, as senators rebelled enmass.
It’s not going to get any easier, as McConnell has privately warned until now. Will the CBO report lead GOP senators to the slaughter, Republican politicians fret?
According to Republican former CBO director Doug Holtz-Eakin, they’re…
…going to get beaten on the head with the CBO report like it’s a club.
But the AHCA was declared dead repeatedly, only to reanimated one last time for an ultimate passage. And I certainly wouldn’t bet against Mitch McConnell, the Maestro of Senatorial Manipulation.
Still, there are key differences between the House and the Senate that mitigate against this possible eventuality. First, the GOP Senate majority is razor thin. They can afford to lose only two senators, and one — Dean Heller of Nevada — appears to be a solid no.
Heller, coincidentally, is up for re-election in a state won by Hillary Clinton. He’s considered the most endangered of the two GOP senators on the 2018 ballot. A Trump-allied super pac didn’t help matters when it began running an ad campaign against Heller because of his stance.
After McConnell complained, the ads were dropped. Meanwhile, Nevada’s Republican governor has urged Heller to oppose the measure. (Nevada is a Medicaid expansion state.)
But in that, Gov. Sandoval is far from alone.
Another Republican governor of a Medicaid expansion state — John Kasich — has also asked BCRA-skeptic Rob Portman to vote against the bill. Though he’s a Democrat, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has attempted to sway Republican senator Cory Gardner.
All told, more than a half dozen Republican governors have publicly opposed or at least voiced extreme skepticism over the Senate version of Trumpcare. More have reportedly expressed private support to the gubernatorial opposition ringleader, Kasich, who is again a thorn in Donald Trump’s side.
And it isn’t just expansion state senators balking at the conservative-pandering BCRA. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine certainly wasn’t moved into the yea category by the CBO report:
I will say I have so many fundamental problems with the bill, that have been confirmed by the CBO report, that it’s difficult for me to see how any tinkering is going to satisfy my fundamental and deep concerns about the impact of the bill.
While it may be true that all politics is local, most GOP House members are snug as a bug in a rug in their gerrymandered, hyper-conservative districts. Senators have to answer to a much more diverse electorate and cater to statewide concerns. Governors and state insurance officials have far more sway with them than they would with a congressperson.
After the CBO Report: A Base Without Center and Flank Support
But what’s not to love about the BCRA for the right? After all, tens of millions would have the “freedom” to go without healthcare.
As The Washington Post put it:
According to the CBO, the Senate bill would mean that an estimated 15 million fewer Americans have coverage next year, compared with the number if the ACA remains in place. At the end of the decade, the 22 million increase in the ranks of the uninsured would include 15 million low-income Americans who would otherwise be on Medicaid and 7 million with private insurance.
You would think that would send the hardliners’ hearts aflutter. Yet apparently, there’s no love lost for the BCRA among the wingnuts, either. Indeed, Rand Paul labeled the bill “terrible.” Sen. Paul and his gang of four hardliners think the legislation retains too much of Obamacare. They not only want to rip out the Affordable Care Act root and branch, they also want to salt the earth after it.
Yeah, I can hear the cynics among you saying. We’ve seen this movie before…and the last time the villain won. What’s to stop that from happening this time around?
Mitch McConnell is currently scribbling hurriedly away at a new version of the BCRA. It’s unknown if he’ll attempt to further kowtow to the right flank. Perhaps he’ll gamble that, with about $200 million to invest in candy for the moderates, the sweet tooth of these senators will get the best of their willpower. (According to the CBO report, the bill would save just under $2 billion more than the AHCA would have.)
Make them realize that they’ll pay in the end with electoral cavities.
If you happen to live in a state with a Republican senator, write him or her. Send an email. Or even better, place a call. Attend a town meeting…if they’re brave enough to hold one. Odds are, your governor has already made their opposition known, even the Republican ones (unless you live in Kansas).
Add your vote to the mix.
Let your senators know that it isn’t just Democratic operatives opposed to ripping the healthcare from tens of millions of vulnerable Americans. Nudge your Republican politicians to stand with the senators, governors, and the rest of the growing GOP opposition. Or at least encourage them to cower from the wrath of those who care more about preserving healthcare than scoring a partisan victory.
Susan Collins recently tweeted:
I want to work w/ my GOP & Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in ACA. CBO analysis shows Senate bill won’t do it. I will vote no on mtp. 1/3
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) June 26, 2017
And as the protest signs declare, let your senator know that you want to: Mend It. Don’t End It.
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