What Isn’t a Secret About McConnell’s Health Care Bill

One thing that McConnell’s strategy of keeping his health care bill a secret accomplishes is that reporters like Ed O’Keefe can say ridiculous things like this:

There are two problems with that analysis. The first is that it gives McConnell a pass for what Steve Benen called “a legislative heist.” In other words, it dismisses the problems posed to our democratic processes. To the extent that secrecy works, it will be repeated and the Senate ceases to be a deliberative body. Why not just let all the opposing party go home and allow the majority to legislate?

But this idea that there will be “enough in there that people like” is a complete fantasy (unless, of course, you happen to be a one percenter who will get a huge tax cut as a result of this bill). Kevin Drum did a good job of explaining that a few days ago.

…a reconciliation bill is not allowed to increase the deficit, so if you get rid of the taxes you also have to get rid of at least the same amount of spending.

This means that Senate Republicans have limited options. They can either (a) make the House bill more generous, which means not cutting taxes as much, or (b) keep all the tax cuts, which means cutting spending as much as the House bill.

I think we can all agree that option B is far more likely, can’t we? And cutting spending means cutting health care.

Donald Trump can go on suggesting that the House bill is “mean” or that the Senate bill needs “more heart.” But the only way to get “enough in there that people like” and still pass it via reconciliation would be to forgo some of the tax cuts for the wealthy. That isn’t going to happen because, for Republicans, the tax cuts are what Obamacare repeal has always been about.

Notice that at the end of the segment above, O’Keefe says that the goal for Senate Republicans is to simply lower the number of people who will lose their health coverage compared to the 23 million that were projected in the House bill. So if CBO says that only 17 million will lose their coverage, Republicans will score that as a win. That is as deeply cynical as you can get.

While no one has seen McConnell’s bill yet, there is nothing very secretive about what is going on here. The only remaining question is whether or not there are at least three Republican Senators who have the courage to stand up to this legislative heist.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.