This is not a column we want to write, but we feel compelled. We could be wrong – we hope so. But if we’re not, we want people to be prepared in advance. (N.B., we’re waiting for the new disaster of the day to be sorted out, at least by the press.)
The long and short of it? The possibility of passing the House AHAC seems unlikely. But it was kicked upstairs to the Senate by members who just wanted to get it off their desks. Not because they believed in the bill’s goodness. They voted against 83 per cent of the nation that loathed its contents (that data reflects people who had no opinion when asked, people who don’t vote, people who refuse any longer to be involved with politics, period.) They showed us all once again that the word “representative” is now an oxymoron. The House does not give a damn about what its members’ constituents see as legislation that will help anyone, but the rich. You knew that.
Even though the House as now constituted is full of bright, fresh faces we’d like to think really care about the health of the country, the facts teach us otherwise. The old House preferences for big business, big money, campaign contributions, and willful ignorance prevails. This is modern Republicanism, with –as a cherry on the top” – “winning one for the team.”
It doesn’t seem necessary to remind people that the “Team” couldn’t give a damn about anything but appearing victorious.
So now on to the Senate. Many people in the country feel relieved. They shouldn’t.
Thirteen Senators have been named by Mr. McConnell to a committee dedicated to writing a new AHAC of its own. They tell us they may start from scratch, ignoring what the House has presented to them in favor of their own Republican beliefs about healthcare, about women’s healthcare in particular, and the healthcare of the nation’s insurers.
What they, and we in theory, are concerned most about are premiums, pre-existing conditions, “access” to a health care system even our Dear Leader admits (as he did to the Australian Prime Minister) last week is a poor second to what Australia offers its citizens.
Once again, as in the case of abortion rights, decisions will be made entirely by men. “Input” from women may be allowed but certainly not highlighted.
In all but a very few cases the members of McConnell’s squad is comprised of Republicans who grew up the old-fashioned way. They early on learned to knuckle down to Uncle Mitch who does, after all, know where the bodies are buried and is not afraid to exhume them. From McConnell’s p.o.v. he has also built in a scape-goat (and probably a deserved one): Ted Cruz, already well-known for sabotage and meanness. Ted could, if needed, save Mitch’s ass. And his job.
The Senators swear they will not neither rush the bill through as did their House counterparts, nor ignore the suggestions of member across the aisle. We’ll see. What they haven’t addressed is the huge outpouring of criticism from the public health field, professional organizations and insurers (yes, insurers) alike.
But it seems to us that whether the Senate starts from scratch or uses the House template from which to work, the end result is going to be nearly identical to what already exists as Paul Ryan’s anti-intellectual decision. Once more the Speaker has forgotten his own biography about relying on the compassion and generosity of the Federal Government to get him into and out of college.
Of the more curious aspects of this radicalization of the Senate is the very fact that Mr. McConnell’s wife is – yes, we have to face it- a woman. And in Trump’s cabinet. Clearly Ms. Chao has learned how to be subservient to her husband’s desires and designs. Not to mention the Donald’s. We know the first attempt at the AHCA was brutal towards women. Now it’s Ms. Chao’s turn to become a heroine, just like Ivanka. Remember her?
She won’t. Neither woman will. Like other legislators who have forgotten whence they came and how, and whence they go, both will remain sidelined and silent. Susan Collins is still almost alone in willing to try to make life for women more equitable. And in this case, not just women but those elderly and poor who stand to be pushed into the gutters of healthcare and perhaps even to death. We await word of Elizabeth Warren, but since she was humiliated on the Senate floor over Jeff Sessions, we won’t wait for her too long.
What perplexes us most is the fact that in two otherwise august institutions – the Presidency and the Senate – there is no one brave, strong, smart enough to call a halt to the disassembly of what we know as America. Clearly there is no one in the White House who tries to organize the President’s thoughts and dreams. Even worse it seems to us, there is no one in the Senate willing to say to Mr. McConnell, “Enough!”
The difference in the vacuums is that in one case no rational progress towards good government exists, and in the other – although we hate to admit this – the Man is as slippery and talented a legislator as we’ve ever seen. And he wins, over and over again. There are no challenges to his likes and dislikes. Between the two – Trump and McConnell – the US of A is being transformed into a nation we cannot any longer recognize.
SO, when Uncle Mitch tells us that redrawing a healthcare bill may take many months, we can do nothing but gnash our teeth and wait. Millions stand transfixed by uncertainty and fear. The same millions Mr. Trump likes to keep nervous.
It is becoming increasingly clear that no longer are there two electorates – those who have and those who are ignored. The entire nation is being ignored so that on the one hand Mr. Trump can play Claudius and on the other Mr. McConnell can play Polonius, albeit with a bit more grit.
Could we really be sliding back centuries to the years without dentists?