While attention is focused elsewhere, just 13 Republicans in the Senate are drafting a health care plan in total secrecy, with no committee hearings planned. This suggests that the plan is going to be a real stinker and that they are planning to ram it through before the details can sink in and there is a popular uprising against it. The media are helping by not highlighting the secrecy and simply ignoring the plan altogether until it is revealed.
Tim Dickinson describes what is going on. He reminds us that what the House of Representatives passed is not a health care plan, it is merely a plan to reduce taxes for very wealthy people. He also reminds us that the bill is deeply unpopular, so much so that Donald Trump, after gloating over the House vote to approve it, is now leaking word that he thinks it is “too mean”. But the Senate can’t deviate too far from the House bill because that would prevent them from passing it with a simple majority, and there is no way that they will get enough Democrats to vote with them to get the 60 votes necessary otherwise.
[Senate majority leader Mitch] McConnell is a master of the chamber’s arcane rules. For Trumpcare, McConnell has invoked “Rule 14,” which allows a bill to move to a vote on the Senate floor without committee hearings. The GOP strategy is to rush the legislation to a vote while keeping the public in the dark as long as possible. That includes not making the bill public until the CBO has already scored it, according to John Thune, the Senate’s third-ranking Republican.
If this strategy succeeds, the public would have almost no time to digest the contents of the bill. “The question is how many hours will there be to review the actual text & CBO score before the vote,” tweeted Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicare and Medicaid under President Obama. “It can be done in 28 – 8 hours of review + 20 [hours] debate,” he estimated.
What Republicans are trying to put into law is wildly unpopular. The health care of millions of Americans hangs in the balance. Senate Republicans’ only ally is darkness.
It’s time to shine a spotlight.
John Oliver also comments on the process.