Once upon a time, there was a political party that existed only to tear things down. They used to know how to build but they decided it was easier to destroy and they were experts at it. But one day, they took over the entire government without meaning to and quickly realized that only tearing things down when you’re in charge is Bad Politics and makes people very very angry. And so that party tried to build something and failed. Again and again and again.
Meanwhile, the opposing political party watched in amazement as the party in charge repeatedly shot themselves in the foot. They patiently waited for their opportunity to come and come it has. Now that Mitch McConnell’s plan of hiding his bill from the public and then rushing it through to a vote has utterly failed, he needs the Democrats’ help fixing all the damage Republicans have done to Obamacare. But first they have a few demands:
But if he wants help from across the aisle, McConnell is going to have to meet some key conditions that may prove nonstarters for most of his own members. Above all else, Senate Democrats have made protecting Medicaid a nonnegotiable demand, in addition to the demand that McConnell drop proposed tax cuts for the rich and preserve Obamacare’s protections for preexisting conditions.
Beyond that, Democrats are also advancing their own policy ideas for fixing Obamacare — including prescription drug policy and a plan to incentivize insurers in underserved markets — which they believe can be the starting point for bipartisan hearings and lawmaking in Senate committees, provided McConnell is first willing to drop the BCRA in its entirety.
McConnell is very much over a barrel at this point. Republicans sabotaged the ACA and then spent 7 years screaming about how evil it was. Now they own American healthcare and everyone is blaming them for the problems with the law (most of which they caused or blocked from being fixed). It’s a delicious bit of karma and the GOP’s inability to repeal or replace it (because governing is hard and they no longer know how to do it) also means that they must fix the dreaded Obamacare or pay the price they were hoping to push onto the Democrats. Seriously, karma outdid herself here.
Right now, the Democrats hold a lot of the cards and it’s going to be tempting for the fringe to demand single payer. To those people I say: Reread that last sentence. I said “a lot of the cards”, not “all the cards.” Republicans will never ever in a million years vote for single payer. The Democrats may as well demand that Elizabeth Warren be made Queen of America for Life because it’s just as likely to happen. That’s not even a negotiating position because Republicans would vote to repeal Obamacare root and stem and let healthcare in America spiral into total chaos before they voted for single payer.
So let’s move on, shall we? Obamacare has set the stage for single payer and we will get there but today is not that day.
The Democrats have the opportunity to force Republicans to fix much of the damage they’ve done to the ACA and make it permanent. They might even be able to reach for some of the brass rings they couldn’t quite reach when the ACA was first passed. The ability for Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices the way the VA does alone would be a huge win, saving the government billions of taxpayer dollars a year. Republicans could easily take that home as fiscally conservative victory even to their rabidly anti-Obama constituents.
At that point, Republicans will be invested in the law and much less willing to undermine something with their fingerprints all over it. It won’t just be the Democrats’ law anymore, it will actually be bipartisan. Hell, they might even get a bump in the polls for it and it’d be absolutely worth it to stabilize Medicaid, premiums, and the markets for millions of people.
This is not the time for the Democrats to be timid. They really do have a lot of power over the process and Republicans are highly motivated to put this entire fiasco behind them. Democrats should really put the screws to McConnell and cement Obama’s legacy for all time. Besides, with the midterms coming up, the GOP needs a legislative win of any kind and with an agenda that includes massive tax cuts for the rich and and nationwide voter suppression, this is about as good as it’s going to get for them popularity-wise. It’s all going to go downhill from here.
There are 475 days left to the 2018 elections.
– This article kills fascists
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I’m a stay at home dad, father to a special needs son and a special daughter, a donor baby daddy, a militantly pragmatic liberal, the president of the PTA, a hardcore geek and nerd and I’m going to change the world. Or at least my corner of it.