Monday, June 26, 2017


Politico is arguing that progressives can't break through on health care:
For weeks now, liberal activists and Democratic senators have struggled to capture the public’s focus in their campaign to halt Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s momentum to repeal Obamacare. Now that the GOP bill is public, its expected coverage losses are likely to make it as deeply unpopular as the House’s plan — yet the left is facing a perilously narrow window to pick off wavering Republican senators and sink the bill before this week’s vote.

That messaging crisis is not for lack of trying. But progressives have been stymied by Republicans’ strategy of keeping the bill behind closed doors as well as a crowded media landscape fixated more on Trump’s tweets and Russia scandal than on the intricacies of Medicaid spending. And then there's money: Democrats have been vastly outspent by Republicans in ad wars over Obamacare repeal.
But Josh Marshall, although he still thinks the bill will pass, believes the pressure is starting to work:

Obviously, the pressure is coming from both sides -- the Koch brothers dislike the Senate bill because it's not harsh enough, and the loudest objections among senators are coming from the right (see, for instance, Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson's New York Times op-ed). But pressure from our side adds to pressure from the right. I think it really is making a difference, although I wouldn't say that we're winning.

I've been puzzled from the beginning by McConnell's decision to release the bill early on a Thursday -- why not keep it super-secret and let it dribble out late on a summer Friday afternoon? He's not giving the opposition much time to gather strength, but he could have been even more cold-blooded and given us even less time.

I wonder if the plan, or at least the backup plan, is this: Allow a limited freakout that possibly sends the bill to defeat, or at least inspires McConnell to pull it from the floor. We do a victory dance and go back to talking about Russia. Then McConnell quietly makes a few cosmetic changes, returns the bill to the floor even faster, and gets it passed. The House rubber-stamps it hours later and it's all over but the bill-signing.

I've seen it argued that that was the trick that got the House bill passed -- you show the public an unappealing baseline bill, which doesn't pass, then make minor changes to it and it does pass ... and it's assumed that the revised bill must be less awful than the original version. Also, you pass the revision after the opposition's energy level has peaked.

Is that what going to happen? Is "must pass this by July 4" the real kabuki here? Is the plan (or at least Plan B) to fail now and succeed after the holiday? That's what I'm afraid of.

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