As we wait for the big vote, or not, this morning David Brooks writes,
I opposed Obamacare. I like health savings accounts, tax credits and competitive health care markets to drive down costs. But these free-market reforms have to be funded in a way to serve the least among us, not the most. This House Republican plan would increase suffering, morbidity and death among the middle class and poor in order to provide tax cuts to the rich.
It would cut Medicaid benefits by $880 billion between now and 2026. It would boost the after-tax income for those making more than $1 million a year by 14 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center. This bill takes the most vicious progressive stereotypes about conservatives and validates them.
It’s no wonder that according to the latest Quinnipiac poll this bill has just a 17 percent approval rating. It’s no wonder that this bill is already massively more unpopular that Hillarycare and Obamacare, two bills that ended up gutting congressional majorities.
If we’re going to have the rough edges of a populist revolt, you’d think that at least somebody would be interested in listening to the people. But with this bill the Republican leadership sets an all-time new land speed record for forgetting where you came from.
The core Republican problem is this: The Republicans can’t run policy-making from the White House because they have a marketing guy in charge of the factory. But they can’t run policy from Capitol Hill because it’s visionless and internally divided. So the Republicans have the politics driving the substance, not the other way around. The new elite is worse than the old elite — and certainly more vapid.
It’s around 8AM, World Time, on March 24.
The political party that claims to espouse “original intent” as a judicial philosophy continues to try to govern in a way our founding fathers did not intend: by effectively turning the 435-member House of Representatives into a body where only the votes of the 237 Republicans count.
In consequence, to pass legislation, the Republican leadership must obtain the votes of 91 percent of the Republicans.* If more than 22 of them defect, and a bill has no Democratic support, then it will fail.
The Washington Post reports that 32 Republicans have said they will vote no on the Republican health care bill, while an additional 22 say they lean toward a no vote.
Last night’s vote was cancelled, but Trump is said to have demanded a final vote today, failing which he will “move on” and will no longer support the Ryan health care plan.
There are several possibilities, each disastrous for Trump and the Republicans:
- The House votes and passes the bill. That would send the whole mess to the Senate, where the Republicans would need support from 96 percent of their members to pass anything.
- The House votes and fails to pass the bill, and that’s the end of the matter.
- The House votes and fails to pass the bill, but, contrary to Trump’s expressed wishes, Republicans keep at “health care reform.”
- The House Republican leadership stalls again, but keeps on trying to corral Republican votes in violation of Trump’s expressed wishes.
- The House Republican leadership stalls again, and puts health care on the back burner.
If I were king of the world, I would choose option 2. But if I were thinking in purely political terms, I would relish option one.
Passage of this universally despised bill would give progressives an actual target to shoot at.
Imagine the stories about people losing their coverage. Image the ads.
Image the outrage, as the least sentient among our voting population finally figure out what is happening to them.
* Currently, five seats are vacant in the House of Representatives, so the total number of sitting members is 430. The 50 percent plus one needed to pass legislation is 216 votes. Of the 420 sitting members, 237 are Republicans. Thus, assuming no Democratic support for a piece of legislation, the votes of 216 Republicans, or about 91 percent of the congresspersons from that party, are required for passage.
It is almost midnight on Thursday, March 23, also known as the “long night of the [Republicans’] souls.”
Aardvark’s crystal ball is cloudy. We all wait in suspense for the vote on Friday. Poisonally, I don’t think it’s going to happen, any more than it happened tonight. But we shall see.
Meanwhile, 26 percent of the electorate have no idea in hell about what’s going on. Dog bites man.
But for the more sentient among us, the story is told by this evening’s press release from the Quinnipiac University Poll, which reads in part,
American voters disapprove 56 – 17 percent, with 26 percent undecided, of the Republican health care plan to replace Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Support among Republicans is a lackluster 41 – 24 percent.
If their U.S. Senator or member of Congress votes to replace Obamacare with the Republican health care plan, 46 percent of voters say they will be less likely to vote for that person, while 19 percent say they will be more likely and 29 percent say this vote won’t matter, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds.
Disapproval of the Republican plan is 56 – 22 percent among men, 56 – 13 percent among women, 54 – 20 percent among white voters, 64 – 10 percent among non-white voters, 80 – 3 percent among Democrats, 58 – 14 percent among independent voters and by margins of 2-1 or more in every age group.
One out of every seven Americans, 14 percent, think they will lose their health insurance under the Republican plan. That 14 percent includes 27 percent of voters in families with household income below $30,000, 18 percent of working class families and 14 percent of middle class families.
Fewer Americans would be covered under the GOP plan than are covered under Obamacare, 61 percent of voters find, while 8 percent say more would be covered and 18 percent say the number would be about the same.