Saturday, July 29, 2017


Republicans have been planning on how to repeal, or at least gut, the ACA (Obamacare) for 7 years.  Trump vowed to repeal and replace.  The have a Republican in the White House and a majority in both houses of Congress.  Congress has been working on it for at least 7 months.  I can’t recall such a huge failure by either party majority and its President in at least the last century. 

Republicans made no attempts at bipartisanship or even unity among party members.  The bills were formulated in private meetings with just 13 Republicans.  Republican female senators were excluded.  When the basic bill was introduced, amendments were made and a vote taken quickly.  As was the case with the original ACA, votes were taken before anyone had time to even figure out what the final bill looked like.  Given the exclusion of many Republican Senators from the process, there was no solid consensus.  Is this how most Americans want Congress of operate?

In spite of Trump’s threat that he would be “angry” is it didn’t pass, Trump provided little help and leadership.  Many argue that he was part of the problem. 
thanks to the alleged 'fake news' New York Times for these excellent analyses.  [parens by blogger]
“This is what you get when you have a president with no fixed principles, indifferent to policy and ignorant of the legislative process,” said Charlie Sykes, a veteran Republican operative and former radio host. He added, “There’s a difference between whiteboards and legislating in the real world. It’s hard to take away benefits once conferred.” . . . But most Republicans believe that their path to repealing the law would have likely succeeded had it not been for Mr. Trump, whose comments about other topics and inconsistent support for their work — he celebrated a House-passed bill in a Rose Garden ceremony only to denounce it as “mean” weeks later — undermined their efforts. . . “I think this is in good measure Trump’s fault,” Mr. Wehner said, echoing what many Republicans said privately and increasingly in public. “He has no knowledge of public policy and is indifferent to it. To try and get massive reform through Congress, even if you have control of Congress, you need the president to be an asset. He isn’t only not an asset, he is an active adversary. He is dead weight for Republicans.”

Members of both parties said that the only path forward for health care — and indeed any legislation — would now have to be a product of bipartisan efforts.

“I believe we have an opportunity now to have discussions on durable, sustainable reforms,” said Representative Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania who opposed the House efforts this year to repeal the law. “I think moderate voices will be important in health care just as they already have been on budgets, appropriations bills and anything else that needs to be enacted into law.”

[There are calls for bipartisanship from both sides of the aisle.  This is not likely.  Many conservative Republicans (e.g. Cruz) really only want repeal.  They don’t want replace.  The Republican closed-door approach to legislation was resented by many Democrats.  Toxic bipartisanship still reigns.  Many on both sides realize that a constant barrage of tweets, White House chaos and scandals have weakened the President.  Hard-core Republicans will not tolerate bipartisan rescue of the ACA.]
“Days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Republicans gathered in Philadelphia for their annual retreat, exulting in their November victories as liquor flowed and Trump-themed socks were tucked into gift bags for lawmakers.
“Think of everything we can achieve,” Mr. Trump told them, predicting the busiest Congress in recent history and placing repeal-and-replace at the front of the line.
Health Care in America By THE ASSO
Yet in private sessions that week, Republicans worried about being saddled with a politically toxic “Trumpcare,” with some acknowledging that their dual promises — repealing the law swiftly without pulling the rug out from Americans — could not be reconciled.
“Republicans will own it,” Representative Tom McClintock of California said, according to an audio recording from the gathering. “Lock, stock and barrel.”
The House pressed on, slogging through boiling town halls that called to mind the Democrats’ fate in 2009. [The Republicans pushed ahead in the House and then the Senate despite angry protests by voters, polls showing declining support for Republican repeal and replace.  The CBO report showed that millions would lost health care.  Yet, it’s ‘full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes’ (health care woes for the poor, elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, ‘let them eat home remedies’]
Speaker Paul D. Ryan gamely played the salesman, delivering a slide-show presentation on live television with his sleeves rolled up for a bill that his president would eventually deride as “mean.” After pulling a planned vote in March, the House passed its version in May.
Mr. Trump celebrated the one-chamber triumph with a Rose Garden victory ceremony.
Senators were less convinced. From the start, a fissure emerged between those hoping to repeal the law and sort out a replacement later and those who insisted they must be done in tandem. Republican leaders in Congress planned to take the first approach. But that strategy quickly unraveled, with Mr. Trump demanding a simultaneous repeal and replacement.
 . . .
In the upper chamber, where Republicans hoped to develop their own bill, the stumbles arrived quickly. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, assembled a working [closed door] group of 13 senators to draft the legislation — all of them male [Republicans] — excluding Ms. Murkowski and Ms. Collins.
Concerns came not just from moderates like Ms. Collins but from reliable Republicans in some unlikely places: Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who told any reporter within earshot that he did not have enough information to even form a firm opinion.
At the same time, Russia-tinged scandal shadowed Mr. Trump with increasing urgency, delivering a deluge of distractions. . .
In id-May, Mr. McCain, who was at the time not considered a potential swing vote on health care legislation, was asked if Republicans might be more willing to buck Mr. Trump on policy matters given the circumstances.
“Are you kidding me?” the senator shot back. “Do you think that I am not known — you think my reputation is that I go along?”
Even on matters specific to health care, Mr. Trump was not helping. At a lunch with Republican senators at the White House in June, he savaged the House measure and called for a more “generous” bill in the Senate, injecting himself into the chamber’s delicate negotiations.
Ms. Murkowski was seated directly to Mr. Trump’s right. As he ticked off soaring premiums in different states, the president leaned over to her. “I hate to say this to you, Lisa, but in Alaska, they’ve gone up 207 percent on Obamacare,” he said.
Weeks later, at another White House lunch, another fence-sitting Republican, Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, was seated in the same position. “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?” Mr. Trump said.
The recruitment efforts grew more ham-fisted with time. After a vote on Tuesday to proceed to a debate on health care repeal, which only Ms. Murkowski and Ms. Collins opposed among Republicans, Ms. Murkowski received a phone call: Mr. Trump had directed his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, to remind the senator of issues affecting her state that are controlled by the Interior Department, according to people familiar with a phone call between the two.
[Trump can probably get away with treating House Republicans lke lackeys or toadies, but Senators are a proud, six-year term bunch.  Trump may be gone before the come up for reelection.  Trump just doesn’t understand the Senate.  They demand respect from the President.  Trump had already alienated McCain with his tasteless insult of McCain’s POW days. Anyone who is a veteran, esp. a Viet Nam veteran should have been outraged.  Yet, I’m sure some were in such a bromance with Trump that they voted for him anway.  You don’t insult Viet Nam war heroes.  Further, Trump had alientated many Senators with his attacks on former Senator, now Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.  Trump has met his worst enemy and it is not the media, it is him]
And Mr. McCain’s startling diagnosis of brain cancer had an impact — and not just on him.
“That was the low point,” Ms. Collins said, recalling a phone call with Mr. McCain after the diagnosis. “It made me realize that even though I was under a lot of pressure, it didn’t compare to what he was going through. It reminded me of how very personal and important health care is.”
On that initial vote, Mr. McCain had been a qualified yes, returning from treatment to deliver a short-term balm to Mr. Trump and his fellow Republicans.
But his final decision awaited. At home in Arizona, Mr. McCain had been fielding calls from senators wishing him well. He joked, on his return, that he would soon give them cause to regret all the nice things they had said about him.
Mr. McCain had come back to the Capitol with a plea for his colleagues, delivered on Tuesday in a soaring address from the floor: “Let’s trust each other,” he said, lamenting the state of the institution. “Let’s return to regular order.”
All week after that, Democrats approached him, praising the speech, with a request of their own: Help the Senate get there.
“I know,” Mr. McCain told them repeatedly. “I know.”
As Thursday night slid toward Friday morning, a group of Republicans, including Mr. McCain, demanded assurances from Mr. Ryan that the House would not simply pass the slapdash legislation that many viewed as a placeholder.
The White House thought it had persuaded Mr. McCain by assuaging him on two fronts: Administration officials had been in touch with Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, whom Mr. McCain had looked to for guidance, and nudged the governor to make clear to Mr. McCain that he was in favor of keeping the process going. And Trump aides made certain that Mr. Ryan assured Mr. McCain in a phone call that the so-called “skinny” repeal bill at hand would not become law. Mr. McConnell appeared confident as well, for a time.


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