Thursday in March

Here is the state of play as of my kid’s bath time:

What does this mean?

1) Keep on calling. Targets are Murkowski, Cassidy, Portman, Capito-Moore, Cotton, Cruz, Lee, Johnson. Adjust your asks per your Senator. What might work for Murkowski won’t work for Cruz and vice versa.

2) Time for some analysis. The ideal situation for any Republican Senator is it either passes without Vice President Pence’s vote so that no single Republican Senator can be blamed as the decisive vote or it fails miserably so there is protection in numbers from primary challenges. Everything else is an intermediate outcome. Given Heller and Collins statements, I don’t think the first preferred option is available. I am betting and speculating that the internal dynamics of the Republican caucus will push the bill to a bare majority if there are 48 Yes votes as it is introduced on the floor. Again, no one wants to be the decisive vote.

So the objective of everyone is to determine the size of the swing factions in the Republican caucus and see which way Senators who are ideologically/pragmatically/politically close to the Senator in question are leaning. The isolated buffalo gets taken down by wolves while a herd of deer working together offers protection to everyone. Everyone is trying to figure out where their herd is and not get too far in front. Signalling and raised eyebrows will matter.

3) Fundamentally we are probably at the equivalent place as Thursday afternoon in March as the House was considering their bill. There was rumbling that the votes weren’t there as both sides of the caucus were pulling apart. That was probably true at that point. But seven weeks later, they pulled something that was even worse and cobbled together a bare majority.

So keep on calling!

59 replies
  1. 1
    japa21 says:

    A major push will be on how, after the first couple years premiums will go down, and the GOP will say the whole purpose of the bill is to create affordable premiums for people. That has already been a major argument that Price has been making.

    We have to push back by saying that affordable premiums do not mean affordable care. If the policy has ultra high deductibles, doesn’t cover a lot of essential benefits, then, although the premium may be lower the care will be more costly.

    The CBO actually makes this pretty clear. The poorer people may be able to afford a premium, but they won’t buy the insurance because it will still cost them too much to get care.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    Good work, David.

  3. 3
    JPL says:

    @japa21: True. They also ran on the fact that the deductibles and the co-pays would be lower too.

  4. 4
    japa21 says:

    Kaiser has another analysis out. Key statement:

    Overall, marketplace enrollees would pay on average 74 percent more towards the premium for a benchmark silver plan in 2020 under the BCRA than under current law (Table 1). Younger enrollees would see modest increases on average (10 percent for those under age 18; 17 percent for those ages 18 to 34), while average premiums would more than double for enrollees ages 55 to 64.

  5. 5
    japa21 says:

    @JPL: Trump did. He has already called this bill mean. If it passes, the best thing he can do politically for himself, is veto it.

  6. 6
    Buskertype says:

    Not to be pedantic, but its “Shelly Moore Capito” not hyphenated.

  7. 7
    Kay says:

    When I call Portman I make it hyper-local. I say the county and then I say I am worried about two facilities closing- I use the names. I say the hospital name and the opiate addiction “treatment center”- which is a ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere- I wish it were less depressing for the addicts, frankly, BUT STILL- it’s only 2 years old and it’s full to bursting.

  8. 8
    different-church-lady says:

    @japa21: You are attempting to use actual-world logic to predict a Trump action.

    This is ill advised.

  9. 9
    Kay says:

    Here is the state of play as of my kid’s bath time:

    When I read that I thought BJ’s were weighing in on when your child’s bath time should be and I thought “my God, WHY do they have an opinion on that?”

    As of now it’s 7:45 but negotiations continue.

  10. 10
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: When I call Johnson, I do the opposite. I simply urge him to vote no. Our reasons for being against are different. I think it is too horrible. He thinks it isn’t horrible enough. If he votes no, I don’t care why.

  11. 11
    japa21 says:

    @different-church-lady: Oh, I realize that. What would be the best thing to do automatically makes it unlikely that Trump would do it.

  12. 12
    Kay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I feel like they do know these places though, Senators. They’re sort of amazing how much detailed shit they remember about counties and people they’ve met. I want them to be scared. These specific places will be hurt and people will know.

    I can see your way too, though. I have to stop myself from just saying “Trump is a LIAR” over and over again so I need a plan.

  13. 13
    Barbara says:

    @japa21: Which is why it is so strange that Trump keeps tweeting that he called it mean first and Obama is just a copycat! It’s like a criminal confessing to a crime because his cohort keeps taking credit for planning it so well. “No, it was me, I tell you, it was me, I did it, I thought of it first!” It’s completely predictable but still strange and amazing.

  14. 14

    @Kay: We weigh in on everything, Kay.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: If my GOP Senator pretended to give a shit, I would use your approach. He doesn’t, so I give a him quick call to add a another no to his tally.

  17. 17
    Kay says:


    Oh I do too. I could go on and on about bathtime.

  18. 18
    Shana says:

    David, I asked this question in the dead thread below, but if you could weigh in I’d appreciate it. My almost 90 year old MIL lives in a retirement home/nursing facility. She’s not mobile, needs an electric wheelchair to get around, can’t transition from the chair to another surface. She’s outlived her money and is now, finally, on Medicaid. She lives in suburban Cincinnati, OH. What would happen to her if this passes?

  19. 19
    Brachiator says:

    Koch Brothers Lay the Smack Down

    The pressure is coming from the GOP money men. “Screw the voters, screw the citizens. We will take care of you as long as you give us what we want.”. From the Guardian, etc…

    Koch network ‘piggy banks’ closed until Republicans pass health and tax reform

    Koch officials said that the network’s midterm budget for policy and politics is between $300m and $400m, but donors are demanding legislative progress

    At a weekend donor retreat attended by at least 18 elected officials, the Koch brothers warned that time is running out to push their agenda, most notably healthcare and tax reform, through Congress.

    One Texas-based donor warned Republican lawmakers that his “Dallas piggy bank” was now closed, until he saw legislative progress.

    “Get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed,” said Doug Deason. “Get it done and we’ll open it back up.”

  20. 20

    @Brachiator: didn’t the Kochs also say they don’t like the AHCA?

  21. 21
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m going to be super-duper cynical and partisan for a second here:

    IF the worst comes to pass and this abomination gets enough votes, we absolutely do want Pence to cast the tiebreaking vote. We want him to be smeared with the shit of this bill so that, on the inevitable day he takes over for Trump, he has no room at all to run away from it.

    Obviously, the ideal is that it doesn’t pass, but I think this is the best of our worst-case scenarios.

    Also, ruemara was saying in another thread that it may be time for a nationwide sick-out, and I think she may be right.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    JeffinCA says:

    Should we call senators if we don’t live in their state? I live in a blue state but would like to put pressure on the GOP targets you identified above. However, I’ve heard that Senate staffers don’t take seriously calls that aren’t from constituents.

  24. 24


    I’m going to be super-duper cynical and partisan for a second here

    At Balloon Juice? (Covers eyes.)

  25. 25
    Barbara says:

    @Mnemosyne: One donor was specifically named. Some guy named Deason.

  26. 26
  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    IF the worst comes to pass and this abomination gets enough votes, we absolutely do want Pence to cast the tiebreaking vote. We want him to be smeared with the shit of this bill so that, on the inevitable day he takes over for Trump, he has no room at all to run away from it.

    And paints a (figurative) big target on the number 50 vote.

  28. 28
    Another Scott says:

    @Shana: I’m not David, and I’m no expert, but it’s my understanding is the various GOP bills claim to plan to turn things like Medicaid into a “block-grant” with per-capita numbers based on the state population (with some other secret sauce). The block-grant total will be less than what the state gets now, and it will drop (on a per-capita basis at minimum) over time. In addition, the “Medicaid-Expansion” stuff will begin to fall off a cliff after a year or two (but I don’t think that M-E applies to people in nursing homes).

    It’s bad news, of course, but nobody knows how bad. It depends on how willing states are to make up any federal short-fall in funding, how much of the rest of the medical system is damaged (lots of nursing homes depend on the year+ of “private pay” money they get before they will take someone on Medicaid, and if that “private pay” money goes away the nursing home will be in big trouble even if the Medicaid dollars haven’t changed yet).

    Having parents in a nursing home is incredibly stressful under the best of circumstances. I’m sure you’re worried sick. :-( Do what you can to let your Ohio people know, and hang in there.

    Best of luck.


  29. 29
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Completely OT: It appears that I can only tolerate movie musicals if they have Audrey Hepburn* or Leslie Caron in them.

    *I know she was dubbed in My Fair Lady.

  30. 30
    pattonbt says:

    Again, counting on Collins is like counting on Lucy with the football. This abomination will pass unfortunately. They’ve come too close to fail now. I seriously think they should just make it meaner in the Senate (please the hard righties on Koch’s) and dare the moderates to say no (after bribing them of course). The fact we are counting single digit Senators to say no says volumes (not in a good way).

  31. 31
    Brachiator says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    didn’t the Kochs also say they don’t like the AHCA?

    It’s not cruel enough for them, but it will do for now. And the clear message is that a Congress person’s constituents don’t matter. Getting the conservative plutocrat agenda passed is why the Koch brothers have backed the GOP. Pay for play.

  32. 32
    Barbara says:

    @Shana: It pushes hard choices down to the states. Usually, when push comes to shove, Congress blinks if too much pressure is brought to bear on the elderly. But we are now governed by sociopaths so who knows.

  33. 33


    The fact we are counting single digit Senators to say no says volumes (not in a good way).

    Well, yeah. It says that republicans control the senate. Which is bad.

    What do you suggest we do? I assume you’re against calling?

  34. 34
    Ohio Mom says:

    According to google, there are 325,120,392 Americans. If 15 million of us lose our health coverage next year, that is about 4.75% of us, or almost one in twenty!

    One in every 20 people.

  35. 35
    lgerard says:


    If it passes, the best thing he can do politically for himself, is veto it.

    If it passed by one vote and trump vetoed it I would bust a gut laughing

    good thing I have insurance

  36. 36
    randy khan says:


    Well, it certainly will pass if people don’t do their best to keep it from passing.

    Seriously, there are two options here: Do nothing and hope you’re wrong, or make some calls to increase the odds that something good (or at least not bad) happens. I don’t know why anyone would choose the first option.

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

  38. 38
    Brachiator says:


    Darwin Deason’s son, Doug Deason is a member of the Koch Brothers political network. 

    From a current story…

    “Texas-based donor Doug Deason has already refused to host a fundraiser for two members of Congress and informed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., his checkbook is closed as well.”

    From a 2012 story about Darwin Deason…

    “Deason won’t say what he paid for Apogee, but a comparable boat would sell for roughly $70 million today. Given the rule of thumb that salaries, food, fuel, and upkeep cost about 10 percent of the purchase price, which he confirms, he probably pays $7 million to operate the boat each year.”

    Plutocrats need their tax cuts.

  39. 39

    @randy khan: because it starts with “do nothing and hope”, which is every human’s best skill.

  40. 40
    pattonbt says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I have called (from Australia) and emailed all my federal Reps. I do not think we can do anything to be honest. Counting on the Republicans to be humane when their job security counts on them not being so is a losing game. I’m not trying to troll or give up, I just think the R’s are too far gone and too far down the path to think they can be reasoned with.

  41. 41
    pattonbt says:

    @randy khan: Again, why would you assume I haven’t done anything? I just do not trust Susan Collins or any other federally elected Republican to “do the right thing” and the fact they are this close only confirms that, to me at least.

  42. 42

    @pattonbt: pardon, we’re on the defensive from some recent doom trolls.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @pattonbt: I understand your take. I just don’t care. I don’t mean to be rude, but what a lot of us are trying to do is share ideas for ways to resist and to buck one another up. A we’re all fucked voice doesn’t help. You are, of course, free to think, feel, and say what you want.

  44. 44
    pattonbt says:

    @Major Major Major Major: No worries. I can appreciate that (and I don’t post much). I just cant believe how close we are to a truly evil bill (though I cant say I’m surprised).

  45. 45
    pattonbt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Appreciate you allowing me to think as I want. Very gracious of you.

  46. 46
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @pattonbt: Okay, fuck you. I am sick and tired of defeatists. I was trying to be polite, but I do appreciate you relieving me from that social obligation. Go blow a goat.

  47. 47
  48. 48
    Ruckus says:

    Not sure it’s ill advised.
    Am very sure it won’t make a damn bit of difference to go into a lot of detail.

  49. 49
    pattonbt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: How were you trying to be polite if you said “I don’t mean to be rude”? Is this like the Ricky Bobby thing where you say “with all due respect” right before saying something awful to someone? So you’re clear then? And I’m not allowed to snark back? Gotcha.

  50. 50
    pattonbt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: And FYI, I am not trying to be defeatist or discourage activism even when it is bleak – most of us only have a few avenues to attempt to influence and we should use them to our advantage. I just can’t get too excited about Collins – to me, she is the worst of the lot.

    So to mend fences – I apologize (not attempting to snark here)

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @pattonbt: I was trying to be polite. I may be losing my ability to do so in certain circs. I wasn’t snarking. I am pissed off. If it makes you feel better, peel off the polite words.

    @pattonbt: Who gives two fucks about Collins in particular? I want at least 3 GOP votes against the fucking bill.

  52. 52
    Steve in the ATL says:


    Not to be pedantic

    If you’re not going to be pedantic, then you have no business here!

  53. 53
    Lizzy L says:

    Collins, Heller, Johnson, and Paul have stated that with the bill in its present form they will vote against a motion to proceed. If we live in any one of those states, we can call their offices, and urge them to stand firm. If we don’t live in those states, I don’t know what we can do. This morning I called my Senators (Feinstein & Harris) to thank them for everything they are doing to defeat this bill; it was all I could think of.

  54. 54
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Lizzy L: Thank the good senators. Pressure the bad. Every time on every issue..

  55. 55
    J R in WV says:


    ” time for a nationwide sick-out… ”

    But, but, I’m retired. All I can do is go somewhere and be disruptive.

  56. 56
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @J R in WV: Do it.

  57. 57 says:

    Flake’s dad passed away today. Mazie Hirono is having surgery for pancreatic cancer tomorrow. I don’t mean to sound morning and Hirono has already made it through cancer before and she is an awesome woman with a great back story but I hope Hawaii has a fast process for a temp appointment in case something happens .

  58. 58
    Mnemosyne says:

    @J R in WV:

    Go hang out at one of Shelley Moore Capito’s local offices and tell them all about every illness in your family that’s ever happened. Ideally, go right before lunchtime and drone on and on so the person you’re talking to can’t leave. 😈

    Remember, they can call the cops on you for being loud and disruptive, but they can’t kick you out if all you’re doing is boring the crap out of them.

  59. 59
    lowtechcyclist says:

    So keep on calling!

    You betcha. The whole point of their trying to sneak this bill through fast was to not give us a chance to mobilize opposition to the bill before it came to a vote. Now it looks like we’ve got that chance, so we damn well better use it!

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