Schumer: Hey, let's hold children's health hostage to 'ObamaCare stabilization' bill

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Thursday October 05th, 2017

Try to keep up with the changing-by-the-minute truths of the Democratic Party.

ObamaCare is working great and it's a huge success! But we need to pass a new law to stabilize it.

When something is really important, you pass a clean bill and don't tie it to some pet agenda you have! But when it comes to children's health, muddy it up!

I can't decide if it would be really hard or really easy to be a Democrat.

Easy, I guess, because you never have to be intellectually consistent about anything. You can assert a particular principle one day, then totally go against it the next, and it's perfectly fine because you're a Democrat and as long as you're winning the news cycle - and you always do because the people who write the news are your fellow travelers - then who cares?

But hard, because that much intellectual gymnastics has to leave your head spinning, right?

Eh . . . you get used to it after awhile. Chuck Schumer certainly has. This is the same guy who became apoplectic when Republicans tried to attach spending restraints to bills lifting the debt ceiling, insisting that the debt ceiling increase was so crucial it would be practically criminal to attach any conditions whatsoever to its passage. We must, when faced with such an important imperative, pass a "clean bill" said Chuck.

Surely the same principle would apply, then, the reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program. Right?

Right?

No, sillies. These are Democrats. The only principle that ever applies is whatever they think will give them the upper hand on a given day. Clean bill schmean bill:

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday called for provisions to stabilize ObamaCare to be combined with a bill reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The move seeks to provide a vehicle for bipartisan ObamaCare provisions to pass the Senate, but it also could complicate negotiations on extending CHIP, which Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wanted to keep as a clean bill.

"Now that the Senate Finance committee has reauthorized the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Leader McConnell should immediately put this bill to the Senate floor for a vote and include much-needed bipartisan provisions to stabilize the markets, lower premiums in 2018, and renew funding for community health centers and numerous other important health provisions that expired over the weekend," Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer is referring to negotiations in the Senate Health Committee between Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on provisions to stabilize ObamaCare markets and lower premiums.

The pair is close to a deal, but the politics of the measure are fraught, given that many other Republicans are resistant to what they view as propping up a failing health law.

Schumer wants to attach ObamaCare stabilization to CHIP to force Republicans to either vote to stabilize ObamaCare - which they do not and should not want to do - or oppose the bill that reauthorizes CHIP and get accused of being opposed to children's health. It's not a serious legislative initiative. It's a trap. You'd like to think Mitch McConnell is smart enough not to fall for it, but this is Mitch McConnell we're talking about so everyone pray.

By the way, you can shriek all you want about Schumer's "hypocrisy," but why should he care? Hypocrisy only presents a problem if the hypocrite is called out for it, and apart from conservative circles where he's already loathed, no one is going to call Schumer out for this. He's not a dishonest politician violating his expressed principles. He's a brilliant legislative tactician who knows just how to use the arcane nuances of the legislative process to get what he wants.

People who obsess over politics and declare themselves "fascinated by this stuff" think such maneuvers are truly brilliant. Normal people who wish public officials would mean what they say and say what they mean are appalled, but they aren't the ones who drive public opinion so why would Schumer care? He doesn't.

GDP growth for Obama's final year? A measly 1.6 percent

Implicit in all of this, of course, is the tacit admission that ObamaCare is unstable and needs to be saved. There's be no need to prop up markets and lower premiums if ObamaCare was working as advertised. But most assessments of ObamaCare's effectiveness begin and end with a look at how many more people are now "covered," and declare that number a success even though a) most of them simply went on expanded Medicaid; and b) the economic pretzel-twisting that was necessary to get them "covered" has resulted in soaring premiums, dwindling care accessibility and fewer patient care options.

Just like many of us predicted it would.

Here's the maddening thing about all this, though: Republicans have the majority in the Senate. If Schumer wants to push a "stabilization bill," the Republican majority should be the ones demanding conditions for him to meet. They should be demanding a real repeal and a return to market-based health care, and if Schumer would like to get enough Democrats on board to pass that, then maybe we could look at some limited bailout of the insurers. That's how a real majority would act.

But as we all know, a "majority" that tips on John McCain, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Rand Paul isn't a real majority at all. So Chuck Schumer believes he's in a position to call the shots. And damn it. He just might be.

Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!