Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Freedom Caucus endorses a healthcare plan! Let's all pretend this matters with exclamation points!!!

Yes, really.  The Freedom Caucus has agreed to a revised plan for replacing Obamacare.  No, this still doesn't matter in policy-making terms.  Will this pass the House?  I don't know.  Will this pass the Senate?  Fuck no.  Even if the parliamentarian rules that it is acceptable under reconciliation rules,* Collins, Murkowski, Portman and a bunch of others are highly unlikely to sign on since the new plan is to the right of a version that was already too conservative for them.  This is why, music snob that I am, I don't like vinyl.  It just skips, and I sound like a broken record.

What's going on, though, is pretty simple.  It was easy for Meadows and the rest of the Freedom Caucus to oppose Trumpcare/Ryancare the first time around and say it wasn't conservative enough, but at some point, if they are always opposed to action, then the veil really is lifted on the fact that by opposing action, they are supporting the status quo.  At some point, they need to shift the blame or risk having their supporters turn on them.  If you oppose every Obamacare repeal-and-replace plan that ever comes along, then you are functionally an Obamacare supporter.  I put up a post a while back snarking that "The Freedom Caucus loves Obamacare."  The problem is that eventually, their actions would make it look true if they didn't support something.  Legislatively, they need something to support, doomed though it is.  Otherwise, they really do look like they love Obamacare.  After all, did you notice that story about how Republicans were exempting their own healthcare plans from the repeal of Obamacare protections?

So, the Freedom Caucus gets a bill they can support.  Will it pass the House?  I don't know.  That isn't the point.  The point is to shift the blame.  Maybe to the House moderates, maybe to Paul Ryan, maybe to the Senate.  As long as the Freedom Caucus can say, "here was our plan, and it was a good, conservative plan, and those sell-outs killed it, so primary them!" then its purpose was served.  This isn't about policy-making.  It never was.




*If the contents of the bill are exclusively budgetary and don't increase the deficit beyond 10 years, then the bill can be done under budget reconciliation rules, and can't be filibustered.  However, some of the regulation changes in the bill are... questionably budgetary, making the bill open to a filibuster, raising the threshold in the Senate to 60 votes, which the GOP certainly won't have.

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