Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Repeal is Dead. Long Live Repeal! (Or at Least Sabotage)

I bet THAT pisses off liberals
I still don't understand Senate Reconciliation procedures.   I have read conflicting accounts as to whether repeal is dead now that it has been formally voted down, whether it is alive until September 30, or whether it stays alive until Congress passes its next budget resolution (which can, of course, include another call for repeal).  So repeal is either definitely dead this year, dead on September 30, or capable of coming back an unlimited number of times, like a horror movie villain.

Certainly, Donald Trump favors that later option.  He has even made clear that he wants Congress to pass a repeal before it even passes a budget or raises the debt ceiling.  And, while the Senate has decided to stay in Washington for the first two weeks in August, the House won't be back until September begins.  And they don't have a plan for a budget or debt ceiling increase yet, so there won't be a lot of time for repeal.

In the meantime, Trump is threatening to crash the exchanges if Congress won't give him a repeal. That makes at least limited political sense.  If Congress had passed a repeal and Trump had staged an elaborate signing ceremony in the White House and then premiums has soared, subsidies had shrunk, and sick people found themselves priced out, I don't see how Trump and the Republicans could possibly avoid blame.  By contrast, if repeal spectacularly fails and Trump then crashes the exchanges, he can then blame it on the Democrats and Obamacare and say that it would never have happened if only the repeal had passed.  It might seem more sensible in that case for him not to run around announcing that he is setting out to crash the exchanges if he wants to avoid blame, but this ignores the right-wing media's success in creating an alternate reality.  If Trump succeeds in crashing the exchanges he will simply dismiss any attempts to blame him, including quotes of his own words, as FAKE NEWS! and his followers will believe him.

When Trump was set to withdraw from NAFTA, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue presented him with a map showing that the places that supported him would be disproportionately harmed in a trade war.  The message got through and Trump changed his mind.  Let's all give Perdue a hand for a job well done!  I suppose it is too much to expect Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price to do a similar favor for us on what would happen if Trump crashed the exchanges.

Of course, there is another option.  Congress could pass a legislation with some elaborately contrived name to spell out KILL OBAMACARE Act.  It would begin with a preamble calling Obamacare the worse legislation ever passed in the history of the entire known universe and saying that it must be pulled up by the roots, jumped up and down on till it bursts, then scrubbed down with bleach and the furrows salted to make sure it never again pollutes our body politic.  Follow it by a second preamble praising Donald Trump's wisdom, foresight and persistence and assuring him that it would never have passed without his leadership. Then do a few patches and tweaks, some tax breaks for health savings accounts, and a few more minor changes, and assure him that this will deliver such great healthcare people will get tired of great healthcare.  He'll never know the difference.

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