Thursday, June 29, 2017

How Much Damage Will Their Support For TrumpCare Cause GOP Senators?


Tuesday night, Jerry Moran, a conservative Republican senator from Kansas, let lose with a couple of tweets that augur poorly for McConnell's chances of ever passing TrumpCare 3.0 through the Republican-controlled Senate. He's another NO vote-- an unexpected one. "The Senate health care bill missed the mark for Kansans and, therefore, did not have my support,” he said in a statement. “I am pleased with the decision to delay the vote-- now is the time to take a step back and put the full legislative process to work." He added that he's hoping to help craft a bill that "makes certain Kansans will have access to more affordable and better quality healthcare," a slap in the face at Trump, McConnell, Price, Ryan and the rest of the anti-healthcare fanatics who are trying to pass this garbage bill off as just that exactly.

Another senator no one expected to oppose TrumpCare is Tennessee's Bob Corker, a conservative Republican in a deep red conservative state. But he's up for reelection in 2018 and a new poll of his state just came out from Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Bad news for Corker if he's seriously considering voting for this turd. Trump won Tennessee in a landslide-- 92 out of the 95 counties with 61.1% of the vote to Clinton's 34.9%. And most Tennesseans still back him, though, the poll finds, "they are less optimistic that he’ll change things for the better... The percentage of Tennesseans who say health care should be the state government’s top priority has been steadily rising since 2012 and now stands at 30 percent, tied for first place with the economy. At the federal level, Tennesseans rank reducing health care costs second, after the economy and before terrorism prevention." And he's where it gets sticky for Corker:
Support for the Affordable Care Act is still low but higher than it’s ever been before—29 percent. Additionally, support is growing among Tennesseans to fix the ACA (33 percent, up 5 from November) rather than repeal it (14 percent, down 7) or repeal and replace it (24 percent, down 5). In another surprise, the percentage of Tennesseans favoring a single-payer health care system has risen 6 points since November to 22 percent.

While Tennesseans may still be skeptical of the ACA itself, several of its signature policies have overwhelming bipartisan support: Just under 80 percent want insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, not charge them more for it, cover children up to age 26 and cover addiction treatment.
I suspect state polling across the country, in one red state after another, is going to show senators the same thing. The new national poll from Marist, released yesterday morning, shows approval for TrumpCare at a startlingly anemic 17%. The top-line: "Americans broadly disapprove of the Senate GOP's health care bill, and they're unhappy with how Republicans are handling the efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act." The details don't make it sound any better. While Democrats and Independents hate the thing (only 8% of Dems approve and just 13% of independents do), just 35% of Republican voters are onboard. And this poll was done before the CBO report was released, which will drive this numbers lower.
In fact, while many Americans want changes to the ACA, also known as Obamacare, they want it to be more far-reaching. A 46 percent plurality say they want to see the ACA do more, while just 7 percent want it to do less. Keeping the ACA and having it do less is essentially what GOP congressional plans are doing.

Only 17 percent want the 2010 bill left intact and unchanged, while a quarter of Americans want it repealed completely-- including just over half of Republicans.

If Congress doesn't go through with a repeal of the ACA, 37 percent of Americans said they would blame Republicans in Congress, while 23 percent would blame Democrats, and 15 percent would blame President Trump.
Wednesday morning Congressional Progressive Caucus chairman Raul Grijalva was trolling Señor Trumpanzee with a tweet pointing out that "Public support for #Trumpcare is below @realDonaldTrump's abysmal approval rating. #Sad!" And it's true. And now Republicans are starting to blame each other for the failure. McConnell has been hissing behind the scenes that Trump has been useless in the battle, even counter-productive, while extremists like Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) and anti-government radicals like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul are all demanding the bill go even further right, alienating mainstream Republicans who are trying to stick with McConnell. McConnell's office has been telling reporters off the record that the Trump/Pence SuperPAC, America First Policies, deciding to attack Dean Heller (R-NV) with a million dollars in ads encouraging Trump voters to abandon him, was the last straw for many Republican senators.

I want to point out a Philadelphia Daily News column by Will Bunch on a Republican senator, Pat Toomey (R-PA) left twisting in the wind but still sticking with Trump (who barely won the state, 48.8% to 47.6%). Bunch wrote that Toomey had a close call inasmuch as having to take an actual on-the-record vote on TrumpCare would have discomforted him bigly, considering around 700,000 Pennsylvanians get healthcare coverage though the Medicaid expansion TrumpCare savages. "Maybe we’ll never know how Toomey would have voted," he wrote. "While he called the measure “a constructive first step” when it was finally made public after weeks of secret, closed-door deliberations, he also assured Pennsylvania: “I will thoroughly examine this draft and welcome all feedback from my fellow Pennsylvanians in the coming days.” Ha, who was he kidding? The reality is that the draft that Toomey and the Senate is considering is, in good measure, Toomey’s own work. As Philadelphia Magazine’s Claire Sasko reported last week, it was Toomey who-- without holding a single public hearing (something that we here in Pa. call the Toomey Way)-- drafted the $800 billion in reduced Medicaid spending which the senator said is 'necessary to make it a sustainable program' yet in the real world seem to have disappeared mostly to pay for those tax cuts for the Maserati crowd."
So you could also say that Toomey’s posturing on Medicaid and on the BCRA tax-cut-disguised-as-health-care bill was disingenuous, at best-- but then it got worst, a lot worse. On Sunday morning, the Pennsylvania Republican went on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and, facing the nation, proceeded to blatantly attempt to bamboozle it. To the casual coffee-cake-munching Sunday a.m. TV viewer, Toomey delivered a rap that made it sound like he’d found a magical way to make Medicaid better by spending less money-- and no one gets hurt. The senator uttered words that were true only if you parsed the English language in a way that 320 million  Americans, minus about 40 U.S. senators and a few brain-dead Trump administration officials, do not. In that kind of “it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” way.

Here’s some of what Toomey told CBS’ John Dickerson:
Yes, listen, it’s going to be a challenge, but I have to strongly disagree with the characterization that we’re somehow ending the Medicaid expansion.In fact, quite the contrary. The Senate bill will codify and make permanent the Medicaid expansion. And, in fact, we will have the federal government pay the lion’s share of the cost. Remember, Obamacare created a new category of eligibility. Working-age, able-bodied adults with no dependents for the first time became eligible for Medicaid if their income was below 138 percent of the poverty level. We are going to continue that eligibility. No one loses coverage. What we are going to do, gradually over seven years is transition from the 90 percent federal share that Obamacare created and transition that to where the federal government is still paying a majority, but the states are kicking in their fair share, an amount equivalent to what they pay for all the other categories of eligibility.
That was Sunday. About 30 hours later, the Congressional Budget Office came out with its devastating report on so-called Trumpcare which projected that 22 million fewer Americans will have health insurance by 2026 including-- more relevant to Toomey’s CBS comments-- a whopping 15 million fewer to be covered by Medicaid. That’s a lot more than “no one.”

Even some of Toomey’s colleagues from across the aisle, normally reluctant to call out a peer, were aghast at the senator’s performance.

In the spirit of, ahem, civility, I reached out on Monday to Toomey and his staff, and his staffers were civil back in offering their background thoughts on their boss’ comments. His defense is essentially that the Senate bill retains the eligibility for the working poor that was added in 2010-- the only thing that’s changing is dramatically fewer federal dollars to pay for that coverage. In theory, states receiving Medicaid block grants could somehow increase their own ante, or else states could cut services but not the rolls of the insured. Those more-than-highly unlikely things could keep Medicaid enrollment at the same levels! Also in theory, the last place Phillies could suddenly win their final 87 games and still make the playoffs. That’s about as plausible as the Toomey Medicaid scenario.

Here’s what Toomey’s spokesman Steve Kelly sent me tonight: “Senator Toomey’s comments related to Medicaid and the current Senate health care bill-- the federal government is not ending Medicaid expansion coverage or eligibility for anyone. States are still free to offer the coverage to anyone who meets the Obamacare’s expanded criteria. However, instead of funding it at 90 percent in perpetuity, the Senate bill asks the states to contribute the same amount for the expanded population as they do for every other category of Medicaid.”

That said. you can and probably should note that Toomey’s CBS Sunday statement is demonstrable false, since 8 states that expanded Medicaid coverage after 2010 have so-called “trigger” provisions that automatically kill their program if federal funding drops below 90 percent, which is exactly the plan that Toomey is pushing. That would end Medicaid coverage for 3.3 million people. Again, not “no one.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning looked at Toomey’s appearance and-- citing his parsing on the eligibility issue-- gave him a “half-true” rating. I think they were more than generous. The truth is that Toomey didn’t want to level with Pennsylvanians-- or the American people-- about what’s in the bill or what it does. There’s a word for that: Bamboozlement. And when it’s a matter of life and death for the elderly, the working poor, and the sick people that Toomey represents, bamboozlement is an outrage.

Toomey won’t tell you the whole truth because, politically, he can’t. Because he helped design this scheme to cut Medicaid solely for the purpose of benefiting the people that he really represents. People like the oil-billionaire Koch Brothers, who bankrolled Toomey’s 2016 re-election and whose retreat in sunny California the senator fled to while his Pennsylvania counterpart Sen. Bob Casey was at Philadelphia International Airport fighting for the rights of migrants. Or like hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, whose Elliott Management employees are Toomey’s largest corporate source of campaign funds. Or Wall Street billionaire (and former New York mayor) Mike Bloomberg, another key 2016 backer. These are the folks who will gain millions while states are struggling to decide which sick truck driver gets to see a doctor.

The good news? The temporary collapse of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s scheme to ram through the BCRA this week means that Toomey comes home for the July 4 break with a wonderful opportunity to both atone for his bamboozlement and follow up on his promise. You know, sir, the one where you said that you “welcome feedback from my fellow Pennsylvanians…” That would mean doing something that you haven’t done since 2013, senator-- holding a public, in-person town hall in the state that you represent. That would give you a chance to explain in long form-- and not tortured TV soundbites-- why you think reducing Medicaid is such a good deal for Pennsylvania. And it will give you, Pat Toomey, a chance to do something else you so rarely do, which is listen to regular people, and not lobbyists. You’ll hear something that might even sound a little strange to you.

The truth.

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At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such an incredible opportunity which the Democrats will bungle in their corrupt ineptitude!

You KNOW that "In the spirit of, ahem, civility" Big Money donors of "Democrats" have already told them NOT to attack the Republicans over this abominable bill, for "Hey, There’s No Need To Change The Direction Of The Democratic Party". Of course not! There are millions to be made for these donors, and the "Democrats" are expecting a few crumbs to fall off that table!

Does anyone else remember how Obama had such an opportunity to do the the Republicans what they continue to do to Democrats?? Instead, he helped them get up off the floor, dusted them off, put them back of their soap boxes, then turned around and backed up so they didn't have to stretch too far to resume kicking his ass?

Here we are again.

Still think the Democrats can be saved and turned back into FDR's Party?

I don't.

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:00, loved your (ass kicking) analogy. But for yours to be more accurate, I remind you of the movie "Animal House" and Kevin Bacon bending over and saying "thank you sir, may I have another" and the sadistic evil smile on the one swinging the cricket bat. THAT's closer to the truth. Remember obamanation offering boner ssi cuts in addition to what was already ceded in order to get one of the many debt limit crises?

The democraps can never return to the party of FDR. All Keynsians and "New Deal/Great Society" Ds have been culled; the money owns all the officers and they actively suppress good people who want to run.

They need to be euthanized forever.


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