Friday, June 23, 2017

Make America Bamboozled Again.

Yesterday, the Republicans in the Senate unveiled the highly secretive details of their new health care proposal. For weeks, the public has experienced the most terrifying way that our legislators have changed the way that laws now get passed. A small group of 13 Republican men spent days upon days behind closed doors, deciding the fate of how health care will operate in the daily lives of 320 million American people.

In a manner that could only be described as "Trump-esque," Congress has been working on a plan to revive the health care plan they proposed earlier this year, to such dismal approval ratings that many of our lawmakers were terrified to face their own constituents during their last recess.

The idea of Trumpcare didn't even make it off the ground before it crashed. Paul Ryan was not very pleased when he had to admit that "We're gonna be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future," as the Republicans couldn't even manage to repeal the health care law they've spent over 7 years symbolically repealing and campaigning on. Though they now have majority rule in both the House and the Senate, plus a newly minted Republican president, they still couldn't manage to put together a solid plan to replace Obamacare. The public hated it, giving it a staggering 17% approval rating. But, leave it up to a man who has bankrupted several of his own businesses...even a casino (how in the world do you bankrupt a casino?!) and 2 failed marriages to take that as a license to keep going, and here we are with a mutated version of the House bill that is best described as a "shit burger."

The funny thing is that I truly think that Trump, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell sincerely thought that people would just forget about how much they hated the plan they created back in March, and they could make it even worse, and somehow, everyone would love it by the time Congress goes home for the 4th of July recess. That is literally the only reason this bill is being decided on right now; members of the Congress and Senators do not want to go home to the flurry of angry constituents they faced at town halls the last time they went home. They are so afraid of the people they represent, they have to shove this bill through as fast as they can so they can shrug and say "what's done is done," when they are faced with questions about health care.

So, I think it's really important to show the difference between how the ACA was passed and how this new zombie version of the AHCA, "Trumpcare," or "Wealthcare" is being handled by the folks who are supposed to be representing the people. Why is this important? First, Republicans have spent the last several years lying through their teeth about how the ACA was passed, saying the bill was shoved down their throats in the dead of night, so we need to just debunk that pile of burning garbage right now and bring the truth to light. Second, think about it...the more transparent legislators are with the passage of a law, the more accountable they are to the public they represent. Instead of asking for public discourse and permission to vastly re-organize an institution that makes up 1/6th of our economy, 13 Republican men are essentially taking the great risk of "better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission." Hardly seems like the vision our Founders set forth for our democracy, right?

Public Hearings

  • ACA or "Obamacare": went through 3 committees in the House - Energy & Commerce, Ways & Means, and Education & Labor, with open hearings over a course of many months.
    • Including 79 bipartisan hearings with markups over the course of an entire year.
    • 100 hours in these hearings, 181 witnesses from both parties, 239 proposed amendments, with a final tally of 121amendments finalized.
    • The Senate held dozens of hearings, including 14 bipartisan discussions, 13 bipartisan hearings, and 20 bipartisan walkthroughs on the reform process.
    • The Senate considered nearly 300 amendments, accepted more than 160 Republican proposed amendments.
    • The Senate Finance Committee held 53 meetings on health reform.
    • There was a seven day markup of the bill in the Senate Finance Committee, ending in a 14-9 vote to approve the bill.
    • Senate Finance markups included 41 amendments, 18 of which were voted on unanimously.
    • The Senate spent 25 consecutive days in session on the topic of health reform.
  • AHCA or "Trumpcare": Zero House hearings in relevant committees.
    • Debated for 3 hours in the Rules Committee, which governs floor debate processes.
CBO Scoring

  • ACA or "Obamacare": Due to the multiple months of hearings and debates, the CBO was able to issue multiple reports on the details of the financing of the bill, showing revenue would rise as a direct result of the individual mandate provision. 
    • Was only voted on in the Democratic-led House after the report was issued.
  • AHCA or "Trumpcare": Due to lack of debate and hearings, the CBO was rushed to submit a report in time to indicate how Americans would be affected by the first version of the AHCA. 
    • Republican-led House voted on the new version of the bill before a revised CBO score could be released.
    • Since the Senate Republicans didn't even release the details of their plan before yesterday, and plan to hold a vote in time for the July 4th recess, the CBO hasn't been able to release a new report for the new version of the bill, because that will take at least 2 weeks.
Bipartisanship vs. Closed Door Sessions

  • ACA or "Obamacare": In January of 2010, President Obama traveled to the Republican retreat for House members, and spent one hour and 22 minutes in an open debate with Republicans about the ACA. He answered questions, appeared informed and knowledgable (probably helpful that he is a constitutional scholar) on the bill that would bear his name, and even acknowledged mistakes made along the way.
    • Again, it should be noted that the Senate debated the ACA for 25 straight days before passing it in December of 2009.
    • There were some closed door meetings with insurance industry folks when the ACA was being proposed.
  • AHCA or "Trumpcare": Since President Trump rarely talks about anything other than himself, and can only declare that "Obamacare is dead," (because he & Republicans in the House & Senate are deliberately sabotaging it), we literally do not know if he has any idea what is in the law. In fact, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that he does not even know if the President has seen a draft of the bill.
    • Senate Republicans have openly stated that they have no intention of working with Democrats on their replacement bill. In fact, the gang of 13 have been so secretive that most Republicans in the Senate did not know what was in the bill until yesterday.
It should be abundantly clear by now that there can be no equivalency between how the ACA was passed and how the current version of the AHCA pales in comparison to transparency, public knowledge, and open debate. Mitch McConnell knows that if he limits the debate time of the new AHCA, he and fellow Republicans will not be forced to defend a bill that even Trump at one point called "Mean." There is no way they can adequately defend this bill. A part of me is so shocked that McConnell has the balls to assume that he will never be voted out of office or be held accountable for policy he put in place, because if he had any sense of accountability, he would surely know that people are going to be livid when over 487,000 Kentuckians are going to lose their health coverage if this shit burger bill passes. It is as if he is a madman, grasping on to any win he can get, since he didn't live up to his promise to make President Obama a one-term president. This is literally all he can do now...using his hatred for the first black president to obliterate Obama's trademark piece of legislation, simply because it is called Obamacare. He clearly doesn't care about the 20 million-plus folks who will lose their healthcare. He doesn't care about how this will change the way laws get passed, he doesn't care about leaving a legacy to be proud of.

Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Donald Trump are pulling the fastest bait-and-switch they can possibly come up with, out of sheer partisan politics...facts and public disapproval of their job performance be damned. 

I'm sorry, America. You've been bamboozled.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your thorough comparison of these two bills. It's hard to believe that Republicans say that the ACA was done without input. Do they think there is no evidence of their obstructionism even when they have a majority?