Monday, June 12, 2017


I don't have a clever take on the health care situation. I just want to point out that it's time for all hands on deck. Vox's Sarah Kliff writes:
The Affordable Care Act is in deep trouble — in Washington and large swaths of the country.

Senate Republicans began to coalesce around the framework of a plan to repeal and replace the law last week. Their plan would, like the bill the House passed in May, almost certainly cause millions of low-income Americans to lose coverage by ending the Medicaid expansion. It would help the young and healthy at the expense of the older and the sick.

Meanwhile, across the nation, health insurance plans are beginning to flee the Obamacare marketplace. They’ve cited the uncertainty around the health care law’s future, sown by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration. The number of counties with zero health plans signed up to sell 2018 coverage keeps growing.

The possibility that Republicans will repeal Obamacare or drive it into collapse is an increasingly real one.
It's happening, in part, because people who were resisters a couple of months ago are distracted by Russiagate, as Jonathan Chait notes:
It’s conventional wisdom that the Russia scandal is a “distraction” from Donald Trump’s agenda, and that what the president and his party really need is to change the subject back to health care and taxes. But their behavior indicates just the opposite. The Russia scandal may be unwelcome, but the distraction happens to be a useful opportunity. Senate Republicans hope to rush their health-care bill into law with the absolute minimum of public scrutiny.
They won't let anyone see the bill:
Senate Republicans are working to finish their draft health care bill, but have no plans to publicly release it, according to two senior Senate GOP aides.

"We aren't stupid," said one of the aides. One issue is that Senate Republicans plan to keep talking about it after the draft is done: "We are still in discussions about what will be in the final product so it is premature to release any draft absent further member conversations and consensus."
So no one's talking about it. No one's making calls.

Hawaii senator Brian Schatz says it's time to wake up:

Do you live in a state with a Republican senator or two? Here's a contact list with phone numbers and email addresses for all of the Republican senators' health-care-focused legislative assistants. If you have Democratic senators, call and ask them to throw some sand in the gears, as the folks at Indivisible recommend:
Does your Democratic Senator already oppose TrumpCare? Great. Now, what else are they doing to stop the bill from passing? They should be as fired up as you are, they should be doing everything within their power to stop or slow the process in the Senate. Ask them to withhold consent on all Senate business until Republicans agree to hold a public hearing on TrumpCare.
Which means what?
The rules of the Senate ensure that individual senators have immense power to interrupt the regular course of business. For example, Senators have the power to speak their minds on the floor, raise points of order and other motions, call for votes and quorum calls, and offer amendments, among other things.

Because of this wide leeway given to individual senators, the only way the majority can ensure the Senate’s day-to-day business runs smoothly is by asking for the “unanimous consent” (UC) of all senators to operate. Under normal circumstances, the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate negotiate “unanimous consent agreements” that set the schedule for and structure of debate on the Senate floor and waive pesky procedural hurdles. These UC agreements basically just mean “We’re all going to agree to shut up so we can get stuff done today.”

As the name implies, “unanimous consent” only works if no one objects, so if you don’t like what the Trump Administration or the Senate is doing, urge your senator to object to all “UC” requests. Your senator simply needs to be on the Senate floor when a UC request is offered and say “I object!”
Do the Democrats need to be told this? Apparently yes:

Make some noise about this. It's important. Right now it's more important than whatever lies Jeff Sessions utters tomorrow on TV.

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