In the bizarre world that we now live in, four Republican senators have said that they will only vote for the so-called ‘skinny repeal’ of Obamacare if they can be assured that it will be junked during the House-Senate conference process and never become law. These four are Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Ron Johnson, and Bill Cassidy.
This is what ‘skinny repeal’ looks like:
The pared-down plan has yet to be published but it would:
- eliminate the individual mandate, which requires all Americans to have health insurance or face a penalty
- remove the employer mandate, the requirement that companies with 50 or more full-time employees must provide health insurance or pay a fine
- and repeal the so-called cadillac tax, an excise tax on expensive insurance plans offered by employers that is due to go into effect in 2020.
It would not affect Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, the government health program for low-income Americans, which some moderate Republicans want to keep.
These four are of course laying the groundwork for capitulating to the party line while trying to pretend to take the high road, the trademark strategy of Graham and McCain. What will happen is that they will vote in favor and then after the conference committee comes up with some version of the bill that goes further than skinny repeal and does become law, they will claim that they were betrayed, portraying themselves as the victims of treachery whose desire to do the right thing was undermined by others. They will tell people that they had no intention of depriving tens of millions of people of health care even though that was what they wanted all along but did not want to pay any political price for doing so.
When it comes to Republicans, and especially Graham and McCain, you have to ignore the plain meaning of their words and assume they are using double-talk to hide the most cynical and self-serving motivations for their actions.