Terrific: Senate moderates preempt McConnell's release of new health bill by announcing their own

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Thursday July 13th, 2017


Apparently there is no consensus behind the plan Mitch McConnell is going to release any minute now in the Senate, because if there was, then Senate moderates would be getting behind it instead of releasing their own plan.

No such luck. And as you'd typically expect, when the Senate has a real opportunity to achieve a conservative policy achievement, Lindsey Graham is going to be one of the people sabotaging it:

The move by Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) to debut their health-care proposal on CNN moments before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was set to brief members demonstrated how divided the majority remains in its quest to overhaul former president Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.

In a joint interview with CNN on Thursday, Cassidy and Graham said that they would take the billions of dollars the federal government now receives in taxes under the ACA and direct that revenue to the states.

“We’re going to see which one can get 50 votes,” Graham said, referring to the number of GOP senators needed to approve any bill in the Senate, given that Vice President Pence is prepared to cast the tiebreaking vote. Referring to McConnell, he added, “We’re not undercutting Mitch; he’s not undercutting us.”

Graham said he would vote for a procedural motion to start debate on the bill but that he is still working on changes to make the legislation more palatable for states like Nevada that accepted Medicaid expansion.

“I’m trying to get a bill that will lock down Republican governors,” Graham said.

“Our problem has been trying to combine tax reform with replacement of Obamacare,” Cassidy said. “We’re giving the money back to the states. The states can do what they want to do. A blue state can do a blue thing; a red state can do a red thing.”

The surprise announcement just before Senate GOP leaders released a revised health-care proposal Thursday that would allow insurers to sell austere plans that do not comply with requirements imposed under the Affordable Care Act.

This is not what you do when you're trying to bring a majority together behind a bill. This is what you do when you've decided to make your own grandstanding more important than the achievement of a policy goal.

Details of the Graham/Cassidy bill are emerging slowly, but the basic goal appears to be placating governors like John Kasich who were stupid enough to take the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion money and now don't want deal with the fallout that will come when the Medicaid expansion is rolled back.

Meanwhile, no one can predict McConnell's next move after he was about to release what we thought was a compromise bill featuring a very good policy idea from Ted Cruz.

The nation's health care discourse has to have gotten pretty absurd if we've reached the point where this idea is controversial, but here we are. How much insurance do you want? A lot? You can get that for a certain price. Just a little? You can get that for a lower price.

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

Basic market logic. Your choice. One of the true absurdities of ObamaCare is that it denies you that choice, forcing you instead to buy an arbitrarily high level of coverage that you may not believe you need, and that you may not think is a good use of your money. Ted Cruz is now proposing to break the logjam in the Senate by allowing what should have been allowed all along - that insurers who offer an ObamaCare-compliant policy can also offer non-compliant policies with less coverage, if and only if people want to buy them.

In a twisted way, Graham's awful move here could actually help the repeal effort ultimately succeed. It seems unlikely McConnell will schedule a vote with two competing proposals out there. The Senate will have to go back to work to iron out the differences between the two because obviously the moderates are not on board with the new plan that was to include the Cruz compromise.

A lot of people thought when Donald Trump was elected president that he would be unable to govern because he doesn't have experience governing. But it's the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue that can't seem to get its s*** together and figure this out. If ObamaCare survives this repeal attempt, it won't be Trump's fault. It will be the fault of feckless Republicans on Capitol Hill, some of whom give the impression they'd rather live with ObamaCare than take ownership in a plan of their own.


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