Without even knowing what bill they were actually voting on, fifty Republican Senators on Tuesday voted to proceed to debate some scheme or another to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), or just repeal it, or even just kick the can down the road to worry about it later in conference with the US House.
They had help from Sen. John McCain, who flew back from Arizona after surgery and a diagnosis of brain cancer, and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. Just two GOP Senators (Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska) had the courage to join all of the Democrats and vote 'no', though McCain, just after his 'yes' vote, offered remarks excoriating Republican Senate leadership for their secretive process in creating unworkable legislation without committee processes or input from Democrats.
We're joined by journalist and health care reformer JACKIE SCHECHNER to help us try and make sense of what is being characterized as one of "the most chaotic, rudderless, un-Senate-like" moments in modern American history. She explains how today's process differs from the one that resulted in ObamaCare in 2009 and 2010, when she served as Communications Director for one of the nation's largest health care reform organizations.
"There is this myth that things happened behind closed doors (in 2009), but that's not in fact the case. There was plenty of public disclosure when it came to what was up for consideration, and it took a long time," Schechner tells me. "We worked from the outside pushing the President to do what he campaigned on. The myth that Republicans were excluded is just that — a myth."
She charges that the various GOP plans, if adopted, will result not only in tens of millions of Americans losing health care coverage, but that, in many cases, "people will die" in the bargain. She explains why that is, and how it'ss going to "throw our system into a spiral that's going to jack up premiums for the people who are still paying private health insurance costs."
"It's really dangerous when partisanship overtakes policy, and that's what happening here. This is about Trump getting a win. He has no idea what health care is, how the health care system works. Twice now he's confused it with life insurance. He has no clue," she tells me before declaring she's "over mincing words" and really unloads on the President. (You'll have to tune in for that part.)
"People who worked on health care reform (during Obama's Presidency) actually care if people live or die," Schechner continues. "I don't understand how you stand up and vote for a bill that's going to strip millions and millions of Americans of their access to quality, affordable health care."
She also explains how related moves from both Congress and the White House suggest the US is rapidly devolving into an authoritarian nation, before offering a number of critical words for Democratic Party leadership in the bargain. Also today, speaking of authoritarianism, Trump continues his extraordinary attacks on his own Attorney General (we discuss why), and the President's new Communications Director moves to purge White House staffers who leak to the media and aren't sufficiently loyal to the President…according to a number of leaking White House staffers.
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