Back in 2009 and early 2010, my writing endeavors mainly orbited a single issue: the passage of healthcare reform and, secondarily, the inclusion of a "public option" health insurance plan created and run by the federal government. It was a nearly year-long ordeal that included all of the drama that should rightfully go along with reforming one-fifth of the American economy.
If you happened to have followed along with me, you're well aware of the agonizing process that included not just heated debate with Republicans, but also fellow Democrats, including former Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) who became one of the chief bulwarks against the public option and who basically held the future of the legislation in the palms of his hands, even though he represented a very small state in terms of overall population.
There were times when the bill seemed dead, and times when it seemed like we'd get everything we wanted. Most of all, the process moved along as it should have, with copious public hearings, debate over fine points, and as you've probably heard about recently, the inclusion of nearly 161 Republican amendments (say nothing of the bill's Republican origin story). While the bulk the amendments were technical in nature, several were substantive, including one that was proposed by Sen. Chuck Grassley that required members of Congress and their staffers to enroll in marketplace health insurance plans if they wanted employer-based coverage.
Hell, the process included a series of "Question Time" sessions in which the president directly discussed the legislation with Republican members of Congress -- broadcast on television and the internet. There was a rare and memorable joint-session address by President Obama about the bill, interrupted by a loud-mouthed congressman who shouted at Obama, calling him a liar.
And this was when the Democrats enjoyed a 60-vote, filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate. They could've passed nearly anything, but the Democrats sought to win over not just conservative red-state Democrats like Baucus and others, but also some moderate Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins and former Sen. Olympia Snowe.
The 2009 Obamacare process has been described as "shoving healthcare down our throats" by Republicans who think their supporters are too dumb to know any better. They've even tried to tell us Obamacare was passed without Republican input and in total secret, as if there's not Google to confirm their lies.
Fast forwarding eight years, the Senate Republicans are scheduled to vote on an at least partial repeal of Obamacare -- and, with less than 24 hours before the alleged vote, they have no idea what they're voting for. Literally, they don't know which drafted-in-secret bill will be up for a vote on Tuesday.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said today that "everybody's gonna get a chance to vote on everything." First, what the hell does that even mean? Secondly, in what universe is this a better, more thorough and more inclusive plan than the year-long debate over Obamacare? Of course it's absolutely none of those things. Meanwhile, we're hearing they might vote on the "mean" House version of Trumpcare. Or it could be a straight-up repeal vote based on 2015 legislation. No one knows.
Either way, they're playing a predictably childish game of "eeny-meeny" with one-fifth of the American economy and the lives of 32 million people. In other words, they're deciding on whether you'll lose your insurance coverage, effectively risking death or bankruptcy if you're ever sick or injured, based not on choosing the best law for the people, but based on which of their craptastical bills will squeak by with 50 votes plus the Vice President's tie-breaker. Oh, and they're trying to get John McCain's oncologist to sign-off on letting McCain fly back for the vote. Yes, really -- a bill that'll strip 32 million of their insurance, with the deciding vote on the motion to proceed being decided by whether a man with brain cancer can escape his convalescence to vote for it.
This is a nightmare of epic scale.
If Trumpcare were as tremendous as the president keeps saying, none of this would be happening. They'd have a conga-line of experts praising it, including the Congressional Budget Office (which they're trying to de-fund, by the way). They have exactly none of that. They're hiding the bill from the public and their own congressional colleagues in a reprehensibly twisted game of Three Card Monte -- the House bill, Senate bill or a repeal bill -- not because they've concocted a Rosetta Stone to solve healthcare, but because they've devised something that'll almost instantly devolve into a catastrophe.
Not to belabor the point, but the only way the Republicans can pass this and other parts of their deranged agenda is to do it in secret and in defiance of popular opinion. This is a party of the 35 percent. This is a party that doesn't care about legislative details, only bumper-sticker sloganeering -- they can lie about anything, and their googly-eyed cult followers will believe all of it. Their followers will even support legislation that'll harm them first, knowing how red states will opt out of whatever they can, including covering pre-existing conditions. This is why the details are secret and why the refs are being impugned as fake news. This is why the process has been so shoddy and opaque. They're about to screw upwards of a tenth of the American population just so Trump can have legislative win.
They must be stopped.