The Cassidy-Graham fiasco underlines the GOP’s failure to be a party of governmentby Iwan Morgan / September 27, 2017 / Leave a comment
Yesterday the Senate Republican leadership decided against holding a vote on the last-gasp effort to replace Obamacare. This would have happened under budget reconciliation rules allowing a simple majority vote to put it on the statute books. After 30th September, a replacement bill will require a supermajority of 60 votes to pass, an unattainable target in the current Congress.
Even by the standards of recent US politics, the so-called Cassidy-Graham proposal (after sponsors Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina) constituted a new low in cynicism, mendacity, and heartlessness. It was an attempt to bounce through a measure that would harm the interests of millions of Americans without allowing proper time for its consideration by a body supposed to be one of the world’s greatest chambers of deliberation. It contained inducements in the form of enhanced benefits for the home states of two senators—Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—who voted against the last Obamacare replacement bill and whose “ayes” would have put Cassidy-Graham over the top. It promised a healthcare fix but was nothing of the sort—it was a very much worse alternative to Obamacare and would actually have exacerbated its shortcomings.
Why did so many Republican senators risk promoting an ill-conceived, hastily produced measure that had almost zero prospects of enactment? They are in a funk after a month’s recess talking to the “plain folks” back home—aka ideologues, activists, and rich donors who demanded action to get rid of the “hated Obamacare.” Many are frank in admitting the political imperative of killing the Affordable Health Care Act regardless of the inadequacy of what replaces it. They also worry about holding onto their seats in the midterm elections with the donor spigot showing signs of drying up. As Pat Roberts of Kansas acknowledged, “If we do nothing, it has a tremendous impact on the 2018 elections, and whether or not Republicans still maintain control and we have the gavel.”
“Most Americans want the support of a benevolent state—not to risk the vagaries of a so-called free market”
Cassidy-Graham sought to replace Obamacare from 2020 with a Washington-subsidised programme that gave the states considerable discretion over how federal funds for healthcare were to…