Late Night Open Thread: Trumpcare, Not Dead Yet! (*Thunk*)

The NYTimes:

House Republican leaders and the White House, under extreme pressure from conservative activists, have restarted negotiations on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with House leaders declaring that Democrats were celebrating the law’s survival prematurely.

Just days after President Trump said he was moving on to other issues, senior White House officials are now saying they have hope that they can still score the kind of big legislative victory that has so far eluded Mr. Trump. Vice President Mike Pence was dispatched to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for lunchtime talks.

“We’re not going to retrench into our corners or put up dividing lines,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said after a meeting of House Republicans that was dominated by a discussion of how to restart the health negotiations. “There’s too much at stake to get bogged down in all of that.”…

Mr. Ryan declined to say what might be in the next version of the Republicans’ repeal bill, nor would he sketch any schedule for action. But he said Congress needed to act because insurers were developing the premiums and benefit packages for health plans they would offer in 2018, with review by federal and state officials beginning soon.

The new talks, which have been going on quietly this week, involve Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and members of the two Republican factions that helped sink the bill last week, the hard-right Freedom Caucus and the more centrist Tuesday Group.

Any deal would require overcoming significant differences about how to rework a law that covers about one-fifth of the American economy, differences that were so sharp they led Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan to pull the bill from consideration just as the House was scheduled to vote on Friday…

Meanwhile, per Politico:

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to her caucus Tuesday, requesting members send their ideas to strengthen the law as soon as possible. Pelosi and ranking members of the committees with health care jurisdiction will discuss the proposals in a meeting Wednesday morning.

“After the collapse of TrumpCare, we must ensure that the Trump Administration does not sabotage the ACA out of spite,” Pelosi wrote. “Then, we can work to improve and update the Affordable Care Act and the health security it provides tens of millions of Americans.”

Pelosi ended the letter by calling last week’s repeal collapse, which stemmed from dwindling Republican support and unified Democratic opposition, a “thrilling success.” Democrats aren’t planning to introduce a full-scale alternative or even a comprehensive overhaul but are looking at specific areas within the 2010 health care law to target for improvement…

Read more



Why the ACA Matters

Remember faithful reader cope, who occasionally shares lovely nature photos? Here’s a photo he took of some distressed flowers:

And also a story to go along with them, shared with cope’s permission (and with just a few alterations to protect his privacy):

Four weeks ago tonight, at about 9:15 (past bedtime here in copeville), we received a phone call from the Mayo Clinic that a donor liver had been found for my wife. She had been on Mayo’s liver donor list since December. Needless to say, within 30 minutes we were on our way. At about 7:45 the next morning, she was wheeled away for prep and transplant surgery and by 3:00 in the afternoon, she was back in her room.

After about 10 days at Mayo, she was transferred to [another hospital] for physical and occupational therapy and for treatment of fluid on her lungs. Throughout this time, my sister-in-law and I made a tag-team effort of being with her at all time, sleeping in her hospital room during the rare times when sleep was to be had. I am still working as a high school science teacher (but only 45 days away from retirement!) so I had weekend duty while SIL had the week days. Happily, spring break intervened… You can appreciate our utter and total joy at being told just 3 weeks and one day after surgery that we could come back to our house and our dogs. My wife is doing extremely well (we hit the local Michael’s for some retail therapy this afternoon) and this is the closest to “normal” our lives have been for months.

The fact that my wife even has health insurance, much less a sufficiently robust policy to absorb almost all of the costs of such a major procedure is entirely due to the Affordable Care Act. To be sure, since November’s election, we had not been particularly confident that she would still have coverage at the time a donor might be found (we expected to wait for months and months). Happily for us, we need not sweat the big stuff any more.

My wife worked for almost 35 years as an RN doing geriatrics, AIDS, cancer, burns, labor and delivery and finally, in her last chapter as a nurse, home health care. She has been universally loved by her patients and co-workers as she is one of those giving and loving and compassionate and empathetic people who fortunately walk this earth. She is even now loved by the nurses and techs who have been tending her for the last few weeks, many of whom she brings small gifts to when we make our frequent returns to Mayo. To have had to watch her waste away as her deteriorating liver tried (and failed) to kill her was a miserable, debilitating, depressing experience for all of us who love her. Our relief at having broken on through to the other side of these emotions cannot be expressed in words.

I chose this picture of a disheveled, sunlit flower against a background of dark, looming clouds as a pretty good visual metaphor for what our family experienced these past few months: the struggle to maintain a positive, sunny disposition in a dire and ominous situation.

See, sometimes, good things do happen.

Best jackal wishes to cope’s wife as she recovers. Her story is a great reminder about the stakes in Trump’s war on the ACA. The shitgibbon was dealt a defeat last week, but he and the other ghouls in the GOP will be back. For all its faults, the ACA does represent a huge top-down transfer of wealth, and Republicans will fight an insult like that to the last breath. We need to remain vigilant.

Open thread!



Monday Morning Open Thread: The End of the Beginning

A BFD win, if we can keep it — and for once, it looks like we just might. Per the NYTimes, “Democrats, Buoyed by G.O.P. Health Defeat, See No Need to Offer Hand”:

Invigorated by the Republican dysfunction that led to a stunningly swift collapse of the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and relieved that President Barack Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment remains intact, Democrats are in their best position since their embarrassing loss in the November election.

While it is far too soon to suggest that the House Republican majority may be imperiled, Democrats are newly optimistic about picking up seats in 2018, hoping to ride a backlash against Mr. Trump. Seeing an opportunity, they say they will not throw Mr. Trump a political life preserver at what they sense could be the first turns of a downward spiral.

The president’s approval rating was already mired below 40 percent in some surveys, and is likely to remain low after the health bill’s failure. He has no prospects for legislative victories on the immediate horizon, given how complicated and time-consuming his next priority, an overhaul of the tax code, would be even for a more unified party.

And while his electoral success in states represented by Democrats in Congress had been thought to put such lawmakers in a vise between their party and their president, Mr. Trump demonstrated no ability to pick off centrist Democrats in his first significant legislative push. Democrats — red-state moderates and blue-state liberals alike — formed an unbroken front of opposition to the repeal-and-replace campaign…

Though the ability of Democrats to do much more than say no remains limited, their success in helping to thwart Mr. Trump will not only embolden them to confront him again — it will also inspire activists to push them to do whatever it takes to block his path.

“Having tasted victory, the resistance forces will feel even more empowered to insist that Democrats continue withholding any cooperation and not granting Trump any victories when he is so wounded,” said Brian Fallon, a Democratic strategist…

Cult-of-the-Savvy high priest and Politico founder Mike Allen, at his new brand Axios:

It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the Day 64 defeat. President Trump, who made repeal-and-replace a central theme of his campaign, and House Republicans, who made it the central theme of every campaign since 2010, lost in a publicly humiliating way despite controlling every branch of government and enjoying margins in the House rarely seen in the past century.

This virtually guarantees no substantive legislative achievements in the first 100 days. And it creates rifts and suspicions and second-guessing that make governing much harder.

What’s on the agenda as we start the new week?



Saturday Night Open Thread: Old Man Yells At Crowds



Excellent Read: “How Obamacare Became a Preexisting Condition”

Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire:

You knew things had gone sideways when they locked up the House. The corridors that lead through the heart of the Capitol, from Senate chamber to House chamber, were still an unnavigable mass of tourists and staffers and journalists, all clustered by the walls and in unruly knots below the various graven images in Statuary Hall. The echoes were an impossible gabble of crying children, overmatched tour guides, angry parents, and television stand-ups from many lands. At about 3:30, when the voting was supposed to start, a small, tough-looking woman from the Capitol Police turned out the lights in one of the small foyers leading to the chamber. She swung the big doors shut and slammed the locks down into the floor. And that was pretty much it. Until, of course, Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, took to a podium in the bowels of the Capitol and said the following.

“Obamacare is the law of the land for the foreseeable future.”

That statement should have come with a sword for Ryan to hand over to Nancy Pelosi who, let it be said, is one legislative badass. She somehow kept her caucus united. There wasn’t even a hint of blue-doggery from her caucus as it sat back and let the Republicans rip each other to shreds, let the president* get exposed as a rookie who should be sent back to A-ball, and let the conservative movement expose itself as graphically as it ever has as the soulless creature of the money power that it’s been for 40 years. Usually, there are some Democrats who either want to make a deal so that Fred Hiatt will send them a Christmas card, or simply because Democrats occasionally can’t help themselves from trying to make the government, you know, actually work…

“We were a 10-year opposition party where being against things was easy to do,” Ryan said. “And now, in three months’ time, we’ve tried to go to a governing party, where we have to actually get … people to agree with each other in how we do things.” Of course, since 2010, the House has had a Republican majority and a Republican speaker. There have been two of them—John Boehner and Ryan. The crazy caucus ran Boehner out of office and now, they’ve handed Ryan his head. Pro Tip: it’s not you, boys. It’s your party…

To be fair, the president* took the defeat rather better than I thought he would, which is to say he blamed the Democrats, repeated claim that the Affordable Care Act is gasping its last breath, and was so fulsome in his sympathy for Paul Ryan that, were I Ryan, I’d hire a food taster. Somebody’s going to pay for this. You can be sure of that. Meanwhile, as Paul Ryan said, Obamacare remains the law of the land. The Rotunda was still packed with tourists when the news came down and you wondered how many people there had somehow been helped by the Affordable Care Act. Maybe it’s that elderly gent looking up at the statue of Huey Long, or that kid in the wheelchair paused beneath Norman Borlaug. Obamacare is now a pre-existing condition, and a damned stubborn one at that.

Also too, Scott Lemieux at LGM on a “B.F.D.”:

It is ever more remarkable, in retrospect, that much of the discussion on the left following the passage of the ACA consisted of complaints about how Obama/Pelosi/Reid could “only” pass the ACA. This is, on one level, understandable, given that the ACA is unmistakably inferior to the baseline established by other liberal democracies… The coalition that passed the ACA included three senators from the Dakotas, one each from Indiana and Arkansas, and two each from Montana and West Virginia. Glib “BE MORE LIBERAL!” exhortations don’t really help you to get liberal governing majorities in an institution that heavily favors conservative rural interests.

Comprehensive health care reform is brutally hard, as Truman and Johnson and Clinton can tell you. In addition getting the list of legislators above, the Democrats also needed to keep in the fold every liberal who was well aware that the ACA was substantially suboptimal. Senators like Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown deserve enormous credit for working to make the bill as it could be and then supporting it. The Republicans just completely failed with a more homogeneous coalition in the more top-down chamber. What the Democratic leadership pulled off in 2009 is remarkable, and we now know that it is an enduring accomplishment.



Saturday Morning Clowns Open Thread: Not Gonna Get Easier, Repubs


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Aaaand now… Onwards, to the Zombie-Eyed Granny-Starver’s Ayn Rand wet dream…



Friday Morning Open Thread: Some Well-Earned Schadenfreude

Anything is possible in this fallen world, so there’s still a chance that Ryan and Trump between them can bribe, charm, or bully enough Repub holdouts into voting for their “health care” “plan” (Trump air quotes). But the betting odds are against it, at least for today… and it’s always sweet to see such a bunch of grifters and cravens suffer.

Apart from cheering for more GOP defectors, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another long week?
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