While Donald Trump was busy insulting Mika Brzezinski’s plastic surgery, GOP promises to repeal Obamacare were smoldering in the Senate’s ash heap. With massive infighting and a delayed vote, the future of Obamacare repeal (or at least some kind of reform) is in doubt. Desperate to pass something, Mitch McConnell is threatening to bring Democrats into the negotiations now.
The Senate healthcare reform bill, named the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), is not just unpopular with the American public; it’s unpopular with those needed to vote for it. According to Politico, McConnell may be anywhere from 15 to 20 votes shy of passage. With only 52 GOP Senators, he can only afford to lose two votes. There is no easy answer either for McConnell, because opposition is coming from both the right and left. Conservatives have pointed out BCRA is Obamacare-lite, leaving most of its regulations and subsidies in place. Meanwhile, moderates are attacking the bill with far left wing talking points, such as “taking away people’s coverage” and “Medicaid cuts”.
So in true liberal Republican fashion, McConnell’s answer is to reach across the aisle and bring in the Democrats. At least, that is his threat. According to ABC News, he said,
“Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo or … we’ll have to sit down with [Democratic Leader Chuck] Schumer.”
This is insane. Doing nothing would be better than giving Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders another shot at America’s healthcare system. They have no interest in actual reforms.
The Democrats have been a united front against any reform bill, screaming about how BCRA will kill people.
Let us be clear and this is not trying to be overly dramatic: Thousands of people will die if the Republican health care bill becomes law.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 23, 2017
Given the chance, they’d just push for more taxes, subsidies, and regulations, laying the groundwork for eventual single payer. It would be Obamacare on steroids, passed by a Republican President and Congress no less! When their new propped-up Obamacare system fails, they can then blame Republican “reforms” and demand full socialized medicine as the only answer.
Speaking on the Senate floor this week, Chuck Schumer sounded ready to get involved. He wanted to “start over” on healthcare, calling on Trump and the GOP to “turn over a new leaf”. That should make every conservative shutter with fear. Considering that some in the GOP have said it is now a choice between Obamacare and single-payer, don’t be surprised if some GOP members are open to Schumer’s ideas. Trump himself has praised single payer on multiple occasions.
Whether Schumer actually comes on board is still to be determined. McConnell’s comment may also be a bargaining chip, intended to force some Republican Senators to buckle in their demands. This seems like a threat aimed more at conservatives than moderates though. Most moderates love bipartisan bills and don’t want any actual healthcare reform anyway. They’d be happy to leave things status quo – maybe tweak something here or there. So, a threat to bring in the Democrats wouldn’t have much effect on someone like Dean Heller or Susan Collins. Heck, a bipartisan bill would let them show what big hearts they have!
It’s conservatives who would suffer, despite having compromised the most in Senate negotiations. Conservatives have made it clear they want solutions and will work to get them, but moderates have blocked the way. With 15 to 20 Republican Senators opposing the bill, it is clear much of the opposition is from the left. There aren’t 15 to 20 conservatives in the Senate like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Mike Lee to oppose BCRA from the right.
So Mitch McConnell may be trying to twist conservatives’ arms to water down the Senate bill even more. This would be standard operating procedure for GOP leadership. That or he’s completely selling GOP voters out to crazy progressives. Either way, whether it’s Susan Collins or Chuck Schumer dictating the legislation, it’s bad news for conservatives.