Observations on a Late-Night Rescue Mission

1. Let's appreciate people in the proper order here for last night's stake in the heart of Trumpcare, the current effort at repealing the Affordable Care Act (and, like a movie monster, it will be back, no doubt, for another goddamn sequel):

a. Voters from across the nation inundated legislators with calls and messages and face-to-face confrontations. Some of the most effective opposition came from disabled Americans who blocked hallways and demanded to be heard by their senators. They were stark and real physical reminders of what's at stake if the Affordable Care Act was repealed. People in wheelchairs and on ventilators were abused and arrested, but they bravely persisted.

b. Democrats held together in a way that I have rarely seen. While you can attribute that to solid leadership, you can also say it was helped by the support of their constituents (and the fact that GOP efforts polled at less than 20% support). The strongest outcome from this politically is that finally, at long last, Democrats have decided to own Obamacare fully. Sure, sure, Chuck Schumer spoke of the need to improve it (perhaps putting on too much of a show of eating shit). But Democrats have staked their electoral futures on the turn in public opinion in favor of the ACA, and that just might reveal a path to the real improvement: single payer.

c. Early on, I predicted that Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski (and, perhaps, John McCain) had the potential to turn independent and maybe caucus with the Democrats. While that didn't happen, these two senators, from far flung states, stood firm against every effort to cut Medicaid, undermine the insurance exchanges, and get rid of policies that protected the most vulnerable in people in Maine and Alaska. Both of them withstood insane pressure and even wishes for violence against them from the savage members of their party in the House. Hell, Murkowski even had her state directly threatened by the Secretary of the Interior. In the end, they told their party's leadership, including the idiot president, to go fuck themselves. That was gutsy and even honorable, something you can rarely say about Republicans.

d. And, finally, John McCain did something vaguely mavericky in voting against the skinny repeal. That's great, but remember that he only did it because his sense of Senate protocol was too offended by the process. If he was against the repeal in general (or even the process), he could have stopped it on Monday by voting against the motion to proceed to debate. And he opposed this bill because it didn't do enough to get rid of the ACA. This is not to mention that he's weak and sick and needs to get back to Arizona for treatment but wanted to get to the next bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, before leaving. Bombs before chemo. But, fine, let's give him some props for a few minutes. Besides, there's also a good chance McCain did this as a solid "Go fuck yourself" to Donald Trump for shitting on McCain's military service during the campaign.

2. What comes next is up in the air. Trump is probably going to demand that Congress not pay insurance companies the cost-sharing reductions subsidies they are supposed to get under the ACA. McConnell already started calling those promised payments "bailing out" insurers, which is like telling your credit card company that your monthly payment to them is "charity." Schumer thinks everyone might just get along for a bit. But the mad, mad House of Representatives is already wanting to tee up another repeal because otherwise they'd have to govern.

3. Except for a few true believers, like the skeevy cat fucker Rand Paul or the sleazy cat strangler Ted Cruz, you know that most Republicans were thinking, "Oh, thank fucking god" last night. If the repeal had passed, the millions kicked off insurance and the skyrocketing premiums and the closure of Planned Parenthood clinics and the cut in the budget to the CDC (yeah, that was in there) and the end of the employer mandate, all the fuckery contained in a simple eight pages, would have been theirs. It's a helluva lot easier to bitch about something than to have to fix it.

3a. Democrats had better be ready to take down Jeff Flake and Dean Heller, both "yes" votes in states that aren't solidly Republican, in 2018.

4. Mitch McConnell's very real anguish was delicious.