Bills to repeal Obamacare: they truly are the uncontrolled herpes of the body politic. Also, I’ve been watching and enjoying David Simon’s new show The Deuce, which is currently about prostitution.
What does this have to do with ACA repeal? Not STDs. Money.
Here is what’s true. Most of the centrist Republicans and centrist Democrats are not named McConnell or Graham or Cassidy. In fact, only three of them are. Three goddamned legislators out of over five hundred are dragging this dead horse down the field.
I would bet the whole farm on this: most Republican and Democratic legislators would like this Obamacare repeal issue to go away forever.
Let’s say I’m a congressman happily representing my small district, maybe in a red state. Perhaps I voted against ACA in the first place. But it’s likely my town got some good out of Obamacare. Maybe my state expanded Medicaid, maybe it didn’t. But either way, more people are covered. More opioid addicts are getting the drug treatment they need. More poor families are qualifying for Medicaid. Maybe some people are paying more; probably many are paying less. Overall, my district is doing better under Obamacare. For most of the non-celebrity Republican congressmen like me, if you put an open-carry gun to my head, I’d have to admit that Obamacare is doing more good than harm.
In a normal democracy this would mean that Obamacare would survive by attrition. I don’t want to mount a full attack, because it’s sort of actually doing good for my constituents. I’ll give a stump speech about how I voted against it, maybe I’ll be invited on a show where I complain about the insurance markets, but I’m not going to do the heavy lifting necessary to take away grandma’s Medicaid from the great state of Kentuckowa.
Except these days, we have these celebrity congressmen — McConnell, Cassidy, and Graham — who are pushing yet another bill. And as a moderate congressman what I’d *like* to do is tell these guys to stop, for God’s sake, except I CAN’T. I can’t because in order to fundraise for my campaign, I’ve got to vocally agree with the celebrities in my party. I’ve got to sign pledges from think tanks run by people NOT elected to Congress. If I give anything less than a full, North Korean weep-and-cheer for this healthcare repeal, Grover Norquist is going to cut off my eyelids and feed them to me. Figuratively.
If you don’t do this, we’ll primary you. if you don’t do that, we’ll primary you. If you don’t wholeheartedly support this miserable bill, we’ll spend all of the money in the world to defeat you. If you don’t vote again to repeal a thing that is sort of helping your contituents, you’ll never get your money again. You’ll be out on the street, giving hand jobs at state fairs.
It’s like when everyone is drowning, and the bigger guys push your head down underwater so their head can stay afloat. McConnell, Cassidy, and Graham are staying afloat, along with American for Prosperity (read: the Koch Brothers and Grover Norquist). The people who are getting pushed under? All other congresspeople, and the interests of the American people.
So in short, this healthcare debacle is not about health care. It’s about celebrity congressmen holding on to power, and think tanks holding on to power. I GUARANTEE neither McConnell, Cassidy, or Graham want or care about this healthcare bill. I guarantee this. This is a move to shore up support for think tanks and donors who give fundraising money.
This is about campaign financing. So again, the Ur Problem of this and all other American problems is how do we get public election financing. We must get all of private interest money out, and then see how our representatives behave. They will make us so proud.
How do we do it? I’m sure 10 think tanks have 100 white papers with ideas on public financing. We just have to be serious about taking back our electoral process from the pimps in conservative suits.
We will never again have useful legislation until our legislators are freed from the hostage situation they’re in. We can’t have meaningful legislation unless our legislators can cross party lines, compromise, and meaningfully come together — not all the time, but sometimes. And they can never be seen to compromise, never be seen to come to the middle, never be seen to listen, if pimps like The Heritage Foundation and Americans for Prosperity are holding their money.