Graham-Cassidy is Dangerous, But It’s Also Political Theater

GOP Senators are threatening to take a last-ditch vote to repeal the ACA, in the form of the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill. Obviously, I’m alarmed at the prospect of the ACA facing repeal once again, particularly for a bill as odious as Graham-Cassidy.

It’s a dangerous bill, from desperate politicians who need some kind of win to justify their own existence. It has broad Republican support. It could pass.

But my gut is telling me this whole thing is political theater, rather than an actual attempt to pass a law.Yes, it should be protested against, resisted, and taken seriously. But let’s not ignore the context that this bill is being birthed into.

Mitch McConnell has said he won’t hold a vote unless he knows he can pass the bill. And he has only until September 30 to do it with a simple majority. So he’s got mere days to flip the three no votes who shot down the so-called “skinny repeal” bill from July.

Why would they support a different flavor of the same cow pie?

Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have voted against every previous half-assed repeal, and are saying the same things now that they were saying in July before that vote, that it’s bad for their state and doesn’t work. So I don’t see them flipping.

That leaves John McCain, who has spent what could be his last year in the Senate preaching for a return to “regular order” in debating, marking up, and driving bi-partisan support for bills. The G-C process is creating a massive bill that won’t be scored and will have TWO MINUTES of debate. This is not the regular order McCain craves.

It’s true that McCain did seem to voice support for G-C, but that was weeks ago, and nothing has happened since then. And it’s also true that he said he might go by whatever the governor of Arizona recommends, and AZ governor Doug Ducey just came out in support of G-C. But Ducey supported skinny repeal as well, and McCain voted against that. So past performance might not be an indicator of future performance there.

Beyond that, Rand Paul has already publicly said he’s a no on G-C, and several other GOPers who were rock solid on skinny repeal have expressed ambivalence about it.Of course, that could all change. Congressional Republicans are nothing if not complete hypocrites.

But from how it looks, the three nos on skinny repeal are still nos, and might have company. So what’s the point of all of this?
Congressional Republicans want to be able to tell the folks back home that they did everything they could to repeal Obamacare, and fought all the way to the end.
Senators up for re-election in 2018 can claim they need more support, and Trump can campaign in vulnerable Democratic states (of which there are many next year) and say “if we had just ONE MORE Republican Senator, we could repeal and replace the job killing Obamacare.” Technically, that’s true. 
A last-ditch loss now actually gives them strength for the fight later. Flip a few seats in 2018 and we won’t need McCain and those other RINOS anymore. And House Republicans can campaign on needing to be sent back to Washington to take another swing at repeal and replace, this time, with a Senate that will have their back.
The window to repeal and replace Obamacare might close on September 30. After that, Republicans would need a 60 vote majority to pass amendments to the AHCA that passed the House in May. And if Democrats take the House back in 2018, it’s over for good.
If McConnell sits on his hands over the next two weeks, it’s the equivalent of taking a knee when you’re losing a football game. You don’t do it, even if you’re down by 30 with a minute left. You keep chucking passes out there, and hey, maybe something will happen.
I truly hope I’m right, that Senate Republicans are play-acting and there will never be a vote on Graham-Cassidy. Because if this piece of crap passes after nearly a year of rock solid resistance by Democrats, it’ll be a damn tragedy.
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