When it comes to repealing Obamacare, the third time wasn’t the charm for Republicans but maybe the fourth time will be. After seven years of promises and dozens of repeals while Obama was President, the Republicans have hit a roadblock after winning the White House, unable to muster and “have the guts” to vote on a real repeal that President Trump is intent on signing.
The most recent proposal was scrapped together by two GOP senators, Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Their proposal basically shifts Obamacare to the states. It ends the expansion of Medicaid and mandates that fined Americans for not having healthcare while instead allocating money to be given to in lump sums to each state. Thus, states would be the ones who would decide how much they would boost their own healthcare subsidy programs and what benefits their people would get.
The states have long been a fall-back position for a deadlocked Congress but some argue that this still preserves elements of Obamacare while others are concerned this will result in less funding for states and coverage deficits. The bill is the Republicans’ last chance to repeal and replace Obamacare before the September 30th deadline next week. After September 30th, Republicans will then need 60 votes instead of 50 votes to pass anything in the Senate while they presently only have 52 votes. This means if Republicans can’t get on board with this or another proposal by September 30th, chances of repealing Obamacare become zilch unless they get rid of the Senate filibuster rule, something I am greatly opposed to.
There are four GOP senators who are standing in the way of any successful GOP repeal and if more than two of them vote against or abstain from voting for the Graham-Cassidy proposal, it will fail. Three of these four senators already voted against the last repeal attempt and two already have so far stated they will vote no, although there’s still time to change their minds.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) – Definite No
Senator Rand Paul, the son of Ron Paul, is GOP Senate’s resident Libertarian firebrand. While Senator Paul reluctantly supported the past couple of repeals, he quickly came out opposed to the “Graham-Cassidy” proposal. Sparring with Trump over his decision on Twitter, Senator Paul dismissed the proposal as “Obamacare Lite” and said that he won’t be “bribed or bullied” after President Trump warned the repeal failed, Paul would be known as “the Republican who saved Obamacare.” It doesn’t seem like Senator Paul plans on conceding anytime soon and looks to be a likely NO vote.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) – Definite No
Senator John McCain was always an unlikely yes vote for any repeal of Obamacare. Despite bashing Obamacare constantly since its inception, Senator John McCain suddenly flopped after he dramatically voted down the last proposal on the Senate floor as the deciding vote. At the time, he claimed he voted it down because Arizona’s Governor, Doug Ducey, opposed it and because it hadn’t been properly considered by the Senate. This time around, Governor Ducey tweeted out his support for the proposal, calling it “far superior to anything Washington, DC has proposed on healthcare policy in recent memory.”
If anything could’ve convinced Senator McCain to make good on the now-worthless promises he made to Arizonans on the campaign trail in 2016, this proposal seemed like it as it had both the support of his own state’s governor and was the work of Senator Graham who was one of Senator McCain’s closest buddies in the Senate. Nonetheless, he shot down this proposal as well, claiming it didn’t have enough input from Democrats and hadn’t been properly debated. Senator McCain still seems stuck in a fantasy land where he believes that with enough debate, Democrats will agree to kill one of their signature pieces of legislation. We hoped Senator McCain would see the light but it appears he really is utterly hopeless.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) – Leaning No
Senator Susan Collins remains tight-lipped about how she plans on voting on the most recent proposal but her record and history strongly seem to suggest she is a very likely no vote as well. She voted no against all the past repeal attempts, even voting no against a motion to open debate on Obamacare (something even Senator McCain voted yes on). She is probably one of the most liberal Republican senators in the Senate and said, “I’m leaning against the bill.” She claimed she was just trying to do what was right for the people of Maine, despite the fact that Maine residents are projected to see their premiums increase by $1,243 in 2018 if Obamacare remains solvent. If Senator Collins really decides to vote no on this proposal, the “Graham-Cassidy” proposal will not pass the Senate. One can still hope but I wouldn’t bet anything valuable on her voting yes.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – Undecided
Much like her close friend, Senator Collins, Senator Murkowski is also mum on how she plans on voting, saying she is still looking at data to see how the “Graham-Cassidy” proposal will affect her state of Alaska. History paints a similar picture for like it did for Senator Collins as Senator Murkoswki has so far voted against every Obamacare repeal this year and even against a motion to open up debate on the topic. Senator Murkoswki has also basically said that she won’t support any repeal that endangers Planned Parenthood, doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, and continue funding for for Medicaid expansion. This doesn’t leave very much wriggle room for success although Alaska is projected to have the highest insurance premium hikes next year. Hopefully she takes this into consideration but while Senator Graham and his allies are trying their very best to win her over, this too seems to be a stretch.
In the end, the success of the most recent Obamacare repeal is dependent upon two liberal Republican senators who have a history of voting down repeals. I will try to remain optimistic but I don’t really see a feasible scenario in which Obamacare gets repealed before September 30th. This of course leaves the GOP with the equally bad choices of removing the Senate filibuster or failing to fulfill their number one campaign promise.
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