...And as long as we're at it, taking the "health" out, too.
Amid all the reports and commentary about the House of Representatives voting for the new Trump "health care" bill, it's important to keep some perspective -- the most important of which is that, despite Republican members of Congress going to the White House Rose Garden to celebrate -- no law has actually yet been passed, nor is it close. In fact, it's important to remember, as well, that the House has already voted over 50 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and their vote on Thursday was largely in that same vein. Yes, this vote had specific new conditions attached to it that replaced what was cut, but until the Senate comes up with its own bill -- which is likely to be extremely different (if it ever occurs), from what senators have said -- and until the two totally different bills (if they exist) are reconciled to the exact same wording and then both branches of Congress vote in favor of it, the effect of yesterday's vote has the same non-existent force of law as those previous 50+ House votes to repeal.
That's not to say that the Senate won't pass their own bill. They may. Nor is it to say that the House and Senate won't reconcile their two versions. They may. And that both branches will vote for the reconciled bill. They may. But that's a very long way off. And -- at least as things stand at present -- even though definitely possible, unlikely.
For starters, the Senate is required by law to have the Trump "health care" bill scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, and find out exactly what it will cost. And find out exactly how many people are likely to lose their health insurance. And find out the impact it will have on gutting Medicaid. Three pesky little things the Republicans in the House intentionally failed to do, to rush their bill through without terrifying members before seeing reality. And when those numbers come back, it seems likely -- given the earlier numbers on the previous version of the bill and considering that by all accounts this version is worse and more draconian -- that we'll see in the neighborhood of 24 million people losing their health insurance, around $800 million cut from Medicaid over the next decade, and close to a trillion dollars in tax savings transferred instead to the wealthiest Americans during the next 10 years. Once those numbers appear, it seems probable that the anger and outrage that we've seen already just on the face of it, without even yet knowing all the problematic details, will only grow, since there will be substance on which to hang that indignation..
It's likely, too, that other negative aspects of the Trump "health care" bill will come to light, since this was rushed through the House without being studied. One bizarre, hidden feature of the bill, for instance, shocked even MSNBC's policy wonk Chris Hayes when a Republican congressman from New York (who was against the bill) told him about it, something so utterly terrible that it's stunning the bill got any votes from states like California and New York, the only explanation of which is that perhaps it's so hidden even they didn't know about it. And that's --
The bill contains a provision that no individual can use the government health-care rebate on any insurance that provides for abortions. Ghastly as that sounds, it's even far worse than you think. That's because in some states -- and California and New York, a full 18% of the nation alone, are two of them -- insurance companies by law are mandated to include services like abortion in their coverage. So, what that means s that (are you ready, if you haven't figured this out yet) no one who lives in California or New York or any such similar state can actually use their government health-care rebate! As I said, how any representative from California or New York -- or any state with a similar law -- could vote for this bill is otherwordly. If it ever becomes law (still a major "if"), one would think the outrage from voters in those states, in general and specifically against their representatives who voted for it, would be volcanic.
Here's Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY) discussing this with an aghast Chris Hayes.
Still, I can't help but think the most bizarre thing of all was when House Republicans went to the White House Rose Garden to celebrate. And what did they celebrate? That the Republican-controlled House after numerous attempts finally passed their version-only of a bill that has a 17% approval which they'd failed to pass previously despite having a majority, that they've already voted over 50 times to repeal while waiting now to see what the Senate does -- if anything -- before it has a chance to pass and then be reconciled to the exact same language before it can become a law. Hey, bring on the party hats and streamers!!
One thing you can be sure of: if you missed seeing that celebration, don't worry because the video of Republicans and Trump celebrating the first step to throwing 24 million Americans off of health care and gutting pre-existing conditions and essential benefits will be played over and over and over and over and over in Democratic ads as we near the mid-term elections.
In fact, to show how wildly premature the Rose Garden celebration was, when CNN was discussing the House bill and pointing out the long process and all the many steps still needed for the bill to become a law, right before they finally went to a commercial, the network wickedly cut first to a clip of an old cartoon episode of "Schoolhouse Rock." that taught children how a bill becomes a law,
Hey, in case you yourself have forgotten, just like the president or Republicans in the House seem to, here's a reminder for you.
By the way, a final P.S. As it turned out, yes, Trump did sign the Executive Order that dealt with religious organizations being more involved in politics, something that could open the door wide to :"dark money" political donations and blurring the protective line created by the First Amendment separating Church and State. As it turned out, however, the Executive Order on "religious liberty" which was also to have had a major negative impact on women's reproductive rights got so much flack that it was ultimately turned "toothless" according to the ACLU and just a "photo op." (Among other things, it only directed the IRS to use maximum enforcement "discretion" when enforcing the existing law, which is known as the Johnson Amendment.") As a result, the ACLU said they feel no need to file a lawsuit .
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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