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Forget the Russians, We Have Enough Secret Government in the Senate.

June 18, 2017

As Oversight and Intelligence Committees of the Senate and  House of Representatives hold hearings dealing with possible improprieties perpetrated by the Trump Administration, along with the beginning of investigation by the Office of the Independent Counsel, continue to dominate the national news these days, the Senate Republicans seem to be waiting in the wings to attempt by stealth what few believed could be accomplished through public hearings and normal Senate procedures – passage of a Repeal and Replace Bill for the Affordable Care Act. Mitch McConnell hopes to do his part in reversing still more of Former President Obama’s legacy and he’ll take whatever steps he thinks are necessary to achieve that goal – Senate rules and human decency be damned.

Awhile back, the House of Representatives passed its version of a repeal and replace bill for the ACA. A big congratulatory press briefing was given in the White House Rose Garden, followed by a holiday recess accompanied by numerous contentious town halls in Congressional Districts throughout the land. Many constituents were understandably upset at the thought of their elected representatives voting to take away health coverage for themselves and/or friends and loved ones. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that somewhere in the neighborhood of 23 million people stood to lose their health care coverage as a result of implementation of this legislation in the form passed in the House – with the blessing of President Trump. Of course, the House passed the bill after having failed to do so earlier, and did so WITHOUT benefit of the CBO score. Little to no chance was given for that bill passing the Senate without major revisions.

Whether by design or default, President Trump subsequently stirred up a hornets nest of controversy both domestically and internationally with what many believed to be a disastrous trip abroad to the Middle East and Europe while almost simultaneously setting DC ablaze with the controversial firing of  FBI Director James Comey. Smelling ratings gold, most media coverage swung in the direction of the potential obstruction of justice charges, the appointment of an Independent Counsel and the rest of the chaotic discord which has been attendant upon the President’s many late night/early morning tweets and interviews during which he basically continued to place his foot more firmly inside his mouth by contradicting himself and his staff pertaining to his motivation for his actions. He further added to the confusion by alluding to tapes of meetings he had with Comey (which may or may not exist – he’s still refusing to say).

While all this has been going on, little media attention has been paid to anything else going on in Congress, despite the fact that they have been relatively busy in the background, basking in the inattention being paid to their efforts to roll back Dodd-Frank regulations regarding financial services (setting the stage for perhaps a repeat of the financial meltdown that caused such a disaster at the end of the Bush/beginning of the Obama Administrations). It also helped play into the hands of McConnell and the handpicked group of white male millionaires among his Senate GOP colleagues to secretly work out a plan to deal with the health care situation by stealing from the poor, sick and elderly among us to allow the wealthy to buy more yachts, mansions, or whatever.

The latest plan appears to be to present a bill to the Senate with entirely insufficient opportunity to adequately debate, amend or publicize it in any way before a vote is taken to pass it. A great tactic if you don’t care about at least pretending that you are operating in a democratic society concerned for the welfare of all its citizens and exploring the implications of what you are doing to affect  their future wellbeing BEFORE you pass a bill of such major importance. They figure it’s easier to avoid nasty town halls after the fact than actually discuss the issues with constituents before voting on their future. Congress is becoming increasingly unavailable to the constituents they are ostensibly elected to represent – choosing instead to do the bidding of wealthy donors and corporate lobbyists to help ensure adequate funding for their future election campaigns.

When the ACA was passed, numerous hearings were held in the various committees responsible for it. Many amendments were offered and discussed and voted on – just as is customary in all major legislation proposed for as long as Congress has existed. This Congress has decided to ram through as much as it can with zero input from Democrats or even the public at large. Town hall meetings have become less frequent and less open than ever before as Senators and Representatives become either unwilling or unable to face the constituents who voted them into office and offer them reasoned explanations for the votes they have made either on their behalf or in blatant opposition to their interests.

We don’t know what the Senate version of the AHCA will contain, exactly. It could be less damaging to our health care system than the House passed version or it could ultimately be worse. Passage in the Senate is likely to require more bending of longtime Senate rules – like eliminating the 60 vote rule that allowed Gorsuch to to win confirmation to the Supreme Court. There is little doubt that it will not be an improvement on the ACA in terms of numbers of people cared for and provided with affordable insurance. What is provided will be more expensive for those most in need of coverage and least able to afford to pay for it. If enough damage is done to Medicaid, the result may be a system even worse than the system we had in place prior to the ACA. This is by design, not by accident. The people who stand to gain the most are the wealthy ( who stand to be the beneficiaries of an enormous tax cut bonanza), and  the executives and shareholders of the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries (who will reap still higher profits while providing less service to the people as a whole)

Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the Congressional GOP as a whole have been itching to better serve the interests of the wealthy for many years. They give lip service to talking points that claim they are doing what is necessary to provide quality health care to everyone, when their goal is the exact opposite. This is a ploy to trick us into robbing ourselves of a basic human right and using the proceeds to further enrich the privileged elites who increasingly not only run our businesses and industries but our government as well. They need to be held accountable for this charade and made to become more transparent in the way in which they serve our collective interests. Trump made many promises which are at odds with the establishment GOP line as has been articulated by their Congressional leadership over the years. His wholehearted endorsement of Ryan’s AHCA is  a sellout of his avowed pledge to give us a better health care system than the ACA – one that better serves all of us. He will sign whatever Congress sends him and call it a win.

Whatever becomes of the Trump Administration in the months ahead must not distract us from what Congress is doing and how all the rest of the government is dealing with and treating us as human beings. There are too many people in positions of power at the Federal level as well as in most states for us to take anything for granted. We need to look out for our own best interests as vocally and demonstrably as possible. The majority of our elected officials are not doing that now. Many are striving to make sure we cannot undo the inhumane way they are treating many of us or the inherent inequalities they are perpetuating in both our economic and political systems. That cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged in the future.

Further Suggested Readings:

Top GOP senator: The secretive process of writing the healthcare bill is ‘like having a baby’

How Medicaid, disability cuts would impact the US

The GOP health bill will hurt Americans. Bad backroom deals won’t cure that.

Republicans don’t know what’s in their own health care bill

Here’s a draft of the Senate’s healthcare bill they so don’t want you to see

Senate Republicans intend to ram through secret health care bill

Health care: Democrats can’t hit what they can’t see

Senate GOP’s health care bill is so secret not even Trump’s health secretary has seen it

Latest on the GOP’s secret Senate health care bill

Democrats Turn The Tables On Mitch McConnell As GOP Health Care Bill Sputters Towards Deadline

While You Focus on Comey, Senate Republicans are Launching an Audacious Plan to Pass Trumpcare

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One Comment
  1. An excellent and comprehensive summary of the treasonous fascists occupying the White House and the republicans in Congress. 👍👍

    Like

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