Saturday, March 25, 2017

Crafting Legislation Is Like Making Sausage Except When It's Like Killing People

I looked at the American Health Care Act and couldn't see any health care. It could be because it wasn't there.

This is the smile of a man who has nothing to smile about.

Can anyone recall any bit of "legislating" that resembled the last nineteen days? The Republicans introduce a bill on March 6th, ram it through two committees with no witnesses or public debate, do the same through a couple other committees in the ensuing two weeks, again with no expert testimony or public debate, and then set it for a vote on March 23rd because it was the seventh anniversary of the ACA passage. We'll kill Obamacare on its seventh birthday, except...oh, wait. We can't.

A day later, amid sturm and drang and Donald Trump's deal-making superpowers, the House leadership ate a ton of crow followed by a few quarts of Pepto and flushed the repeal down the toilet. Literally, holy shit.

What's the lesson here? It's hard to fathom, but at the center of what happened is that Paul Ryan crafted a bill that actually was an attempt to transfer about a trillion dollars of Medicaid and healthcare spending to the wealthy in the form of tax cuts while pretending its was healthcare reform and Obamacare repeal. But the astounding thing is -- and it can't be said loud enough -- THE BILL FAILED BECAUSE THE MOST CONSERVATIVE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE THOUGHT IT WAS TOO KIND.

Literally, holy shit.

Ryan and Trump tried to make it less kind, BUT THEY COULDN'T MAKE IT LESS KIND ENOUGH FOR THE MOST CONSERVATIVE OF THEIR MEMBERS. In a completely understandable twist, a bunch of not quite so horrible "moderates" peeled off from the whole and opposed the bill because "it didn't lower premiums enough," which is code for "holy crap it's mean and shitty."

A final thought (and I won't shout, but I should): About one hundred eighty or so average, run-of-the-mill Republican House members were quite ready to vote "yes" on this bill. One hundred eighty or so Republicans were quite content to vote for a huge tax cut for the rich masquerading as a fake healthcare bill because, well, it did fuck up Obamacare but good, too. Another day at the office!! Heartlessness and cruelty for the win!!

Yes, that's what happened. In the weirdest of victories, the Democrats won by staying the hell out of the Republicans' way. Funny how that works.

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