Where it stands: Republicans are likely positioned to shave the edges off the Better Care Reconciliation Act until they get to 50 plus one votes, with VP Mike Pence the decider. The two Republican face saving tickets to “no” are up for grabs, probably reserved for Dean Heller and Rand Paul. Democrats meanwhile will kick up a stink though powerless to change the outcome. But make no mistake, this fight fueled by a remarkably broad based resistance points to real trouble for the perpetrators should Trumpcare get signed into law.
The short game odds on: A defeat for Obamacare backers, a reassuring redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich for elite Trumpcare backers, a devastating loss for folks who depend on Medicaid, have disabilities, suffer from opioid addiction, and/or require nursing homes and other vital medical interventions left unprotected by Trumpcare.
Fat cats will come out ahead on the tax front and poor people will be shafted. Meanwhile the pundit/media universe will continue to build on the suspense angle to attract viewers, clicks and the like. (The Wall Street Journal reports at least six Republican senators “wavering”. The Washington Post reports 11 senators “have concerns”. The New York Times opines that Mitch McConnell may still “win by losing”. NV Senator Dean Heller, a “key vote” says he’s a “no” for now.
So what’s all the noise about from far right poseurs threatening to “withdraw support” unless their demands are met - Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, the House Republican Study Group and, of course, the House Freedom Caucus? And from the oft touted, oft quoted “moderates” acknowledging the gaping health care wounds Trumpcare will open up among their constituents - Senators Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski, John McCain, Susan Collins, Bill Cassidy, Rob Portman, Shelley Capito? Plenty of misdirection, obfuscation, pretense, butt covering before likely falling in line behind their Leader.
If this were an old time Western, the hero - the people - would call out the lily livered, no account, chicken hearted bullshi*ters and have it out at high noon. In the shootout Trumpcare would go down in a hail of lead filled ignominy.
But the acting Sheriff in town is Mitch McConnell, slithering through the undrained swamp on his belly until the moment has ripened to where he can tweak and grease Trumpcare, corralling 51 votes for a bill almost nobody likes and many truly detest.
Lest anyone think the fight against Trumpcare isn’t worth it, even in what may prove to be a losing cause in the Senate, think again. By the time the key vote is taken most Americans will still have little knowledge of its soon to be realized impacts on themselves, their families and communities. Cloaked in secrecy and rammed through the Senate at warp speed without real debate much less popular input, Trumpcare and its supporters will become stationary political targets. The hard fight against it now will help frame a torrent of stories, conversations, analytics, actions and, yes, organization building. This multi-generational fight isn’t going away regardless of what the Senate ends up doing. In fact, it’s just beginning.
Frank C. Pierson, Jr.
Frank Pierson retired after forty years of work with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) as a professional organizer. He began his career in 1971 in Chicago, moved to Queens, New York City and migrated west to work in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. He resides with his wife, Mary Ellen Kazda, in Oracle, Arizona. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org