By Robert Mann
You need not be a politician with the superior political intuition of Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton to understand how dangerous the Republican health care bill is to the future of that party’s majority in both houses. Even so, it looks like Louisiana’s GOP senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, will support legislation that could damage the GOP’s chances of holding onto Congress in 2018.
Could Republicans’ irrational hatred of the Affordable Care Act drive them to an insane act of self-immolation by replacing it with a disastrous bill that most Americans oppose?
The House-passed American Health Care Act is not only the most unpopular legislation Congress has debated in decades; it’s also earned the disdain of President Donald Trump, who threw a party for the bill in the Rose Garden but later called it “mean.”
Cassidy, who has a bill to replace Obamacare, suggested weeks ago he would not support the House bill (and I applauded him for that). More recently, however, he has warmed to supporting a new version that 13 male senators wrote in secret.
From the outline Republicans released on Thursday, the Senate effort isn’t much of an improvement. Like the House bill, Republicans in the Senate would slash deeply Medicaid and eliminate health insurance for tens of millions to finance tax cuts for millionaires.
As a bipartisan group of governors wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week, the bill “calls into question coverage for the vulnerable and fails to provide the necessary resources to ensure that no one is left out, while shifting significant costs to the states.”
McConnell and other GOP leaders are likely urging Cassidy to get on board (it doesn’t appear Kennedy needs his arm twisted to support the legislation). If you’re Cassidy, the worst position is to be a senator whose opposition to the bill killed the repeal-Obamacare effort.
Well, that might be the second-worst outcome, as worse might be the passage of the bill with Cassidy’s crucial vote to help. If Cassidy is betting his constituents’ hatred of Obamacare is so intense they will abide a bill that cripples their health insurance coverage, the evidence suggests he is wrong.
Using eight surveys from respected national pollsters and a sophisticated statistical method called M.R.P. (multilevel regression and poststratification), researchers Christopher Warshaw and David Broockman, of MIT and Stanford respectively, concluded there is not one state in which most people support the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA).
As they wrote recently in The New York Times: “Across all the states that voted for President Trump last year, we estimate that support for the A.H.C.A. is rarely over 35 percent. A majority of Republican senators currently represent states where less than a third of the public supports the A.H.C.A.”
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