A Sudden And Surprising Death For Senate Health Care Bill

Next Up: Senate Majority Leader Takes A Stab At Repeal Without Replacement

Mitch McConnell says he will now try to gather momentum on simply doing away with Obamacare. He issued this statement overnight: 

Republicans passed a bill to simply kill Obamacare once before, in 2015. But of course it was vetoed by President Obama. Since Republicans knew that their vote at that time was symbolic, a repeal-only bill might not be the slam dunk now that it was then. In fact, Roll Call this morning predicts it won’t pass.

If that happens, McConnell previously said he’d focus on a bipartisan bill to stabilize health insurance markets. Other Senators have their own ideas: John McCain, recovering from brain surgery, issued a statement urging a new bill-writing process that would take recommendations from both parties, as well as governors. Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham pointed to an alternative he’s proposed before, but wasn’t taken seriously, that would send money to individual states and let them write their own health care laws.

Interestingly, President Trump, while supporting an outright Obamacare repeal, suggested that it be coupled with a completely new bipartisan bill.

Either way, the failure of the Senate bill should be a huge embarrassment to both Senate Republicans and the President. Remember the 54 times Republicans voted to repeal Obamacare and said they could do better? Remember how many times Trump said he’d have “beautiful” coverage with higher benefits and lower premiums?

Final Two “No” Votes Both Come From Far Right

Mike Lee, from Utah, and Jerry Moran, from Kansas, joined Kentucky’s Rand Paul in some variation of saying the Senate bill doesn’t go far enough.

Senator Lee’s statement focuses on three things: the bill as it stands now doesn’t eliminate all Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t lower premiums, and it still contains too many regulations. Lee offers more extensive commentary on Erick Erickson’s website.

Senator Moran was more vague in his reasoning, mentioning several things: including the way the Senate’s bill was written in secret, and the possibility if the federal government continues to have a big role “it is more likely our healthcare system will devolve into a single-payer system.”

The only moderate to publicly oppose the Senate bill so far remains Maine’s Susan Collins. Her argument was that it did too much damage to Medicaid, something that predated Obamacare.

The more radically right Senators actually did 5 moderate Republicans a favor. They can get “off the fence” now and safely say they were against it if they want, without fear of betraying their party.

But a very good “flash analysis” by Vox points out the lack of resolve–and possibly backbone–by Republican moderates could be a problem going forward. It says a few of those moderates have to forcefully join Collins “in squarely promising to vote against a bill that causes massive coverage losses. Then they could either leave the ACA in place, or else start working with moderate Democrats on bipartisan revisions to the bill that would be aimed at improving American health care rather than rolling back insurance coverage. Until then, the Affordable Care Act is very much under threat.” (Our emphasis.)

Spicer Denies The President Neglected Health Care In Favor Of Golf

Earlier in the day, at a no-cameras-allowed briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump had plans to sit down with Senate Republicans Monday evening to discuss moving the bill along. Which means the President was blindsided by Lee and Moran’s announcement, just like the rest of us. 

Less than a week ago, Trump said he’d be “very angry” if the Senate failed to pass a bill. And he gave himself a lot of leeway on a health care “win” for himself: indicating he’d sign anything Republicans put in front of him, regardless of content: “I will be at my desk, pen in hand.

Spicer also addressed the fact that while Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend scurrying around, trying to win over various Senators (as well as a whole bunch of Governors), Trump himself was hanging out at a golf tournament on one of his properties. And promoting it on Twitter. In fact, according to our count, Trump tweeted 7 times over the weekend about the golf tournament, vs. only once about health care. Spicer insisted Trump was appropriately engaged on health care, saying “sending off a Tweet takes 5-10 seconds.”

You can listen to (but not watch) Spicer’s entire briefing by clicking on the ABC News graphic below:

House Comes Out Guns Blazing This Morning, With A Budget Plan That Slashes Deep Into Things Trump Says He Wouldn’t

The House moving quickly this morning to present a 2018 budget proposal that adds back a lot of what the White House proposed cutting in its earlier proposal, but cuts a lot of what Trump promised he wouldn’t touch.

The initial house plan:

• Includes cuts to Medicare and Social Security, both of which President Trump has repeatedly promised not to touch.

• Includes even more military spending than Trump requests: $18-billion more to be exact, for a total of $72-billion.

• Ignores Trump’s request for $54-billion in cuts in things like the State Department and National Institutes of Health.

• Paves the way for deregulation of financial markets, by treating repeal of the Dodds-Frank law, put into place after the 2008 financial crisis, as a $24-billion budget cut.

Initial reaction from the Trump camp is positive. Budget director Mick Mulvaney called the House Republican move “a bold effort.”

Is This Trump’s “Michael Dukakis” Moment?

This photo came from the kick-off of the White House’s “Made In America” week. We’re just putting it out there.

The fire truck was made in Wisconsin.

One thing we definitely know about Trump. He likes to pretend to drive trucks.