Sometimes when you win, you lose. Sometimes when you lose, you win. And sometimes when you win or lose you really tie.

 

 

The House of Representatives has voted, once again, to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This is not the first time they have done so, and it likely won’t be the last. They passed several bills and amendments since 2011 that repeal or limit Obamacare, and few of these became law. My guess is that this bill will die like the others have, but this time it will be killed by a more pensive (and smart?) Senate. Senate republicans are already saying that they can’t pass the current bill, and it’s not clear that they even have enough support for a vote. It’s hard to see how the House and President see this as a win, but they do, and they had a party at the White House about it. Vice President Pence rallied the crowd (of middle-aged to old white men) with a line, “Welcome to the beginning of the end of Obamacare.” Silly line. Doesn’t that assume that Obamacare will end? Doesn’t it assume that the previous votes weren’t the beginning of anything? Silliness all around.

I’m not surprised that they got the votes to pass this lump of garbage, but I’d be shocked if any of them really see it as a win. Many (if not most) haven’t read the bill, some have stated this publicly. Many (if not most) do not know what it will cost, because they didn’t wait for the CBO to score it. You have to ask yourself, why would they even consider legislation without knowing the impact of the legislation? In fairness, it could be that they don’t think it’s all that different from the measure that failed, and was scored by CBO, but I think it’s more likely that they suspect that the CBO scoring will show the frightening impact if this becomes law. I think we, as voters, should really have a problem with our representatives voting to pass a bill before considering the impact of that bill, and before getting the information they need to consider the impact of the bill. If they don’t do that, then it’s all for show, and they really can’t say that they care about whether or not it will help or hurt the Americans they represent.

And let’s think about one of the biggest baseless attacks that were levied against Obamacare. It was rammed down our throats and nobody had a chance to read it. First of all, everybody had a chance to read it, and many people did. Your elected officials had plenty of time to read it. It was posted on Thomas.gov (which is now Congress.gov), for anybody to read. Yes, it was long, and complicated, but a complicated problem like health care needs a complicated bill. If you didn’t have time to read it, there were thousands of summaries available (proving that people did, in fact, have plenty of time to read it). CBO scored it and estimated the impacts of it, and this was available well before the vote. But not this time. This time, the framework of the bill was revealed to the public on March 20, 2017. This was a week after the CBO released its report on the effect of it. It seemed a bit rushed, but it never got a vote because the House leadership used clause 1(c) of rule 19 to postpone the vote, four days after it was made public, and eleven days after the CBO score came out. And it sat for a while, but it didn’t go away. Instead, it was amended. The text of the amendment came out on April 25, but was never scored by CBO, and it was further amended just before the vote (the official record of the amendment is dated the same day as the vote on Congress.gov), but there are plenty of media reports that it was released the night before. So they release a revised bill a week before a major vote to overhaul a gigantic part of our economy, and revise it again the night before, and never get a score from CBO estimating the impact…yet it was Obamacare that was rammed down our throats? The theater pains me.

I don’t like to think about politics in terms of winning or losing, because I think the morphing of politics into sport has been pretty harmful to us as a Nation, but even in that framework, it’s hard to see this as a win of any sort. Reports say that the Senate isn’t even going to consider the bill, and if they do anything, it will be from a fresh start. So even if something eventually passes that removes Obamacare, and the things about Obamacare that so many Americans have come to rely on, it won’t be anything like the bill that passed yesterday. It wasn’t a win, by any means, nor was it a win for the democrats. It was just a colossal waste of time, except that it will make it much harder for many of these people to get re-elected eighteen months from now.

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