Thursday, May 4, 2017

Remember that the House is the EASY part of repeal-and-replace

At some point as a child, you probably took music lessons of some kind.  Some instruments are harder than others.  The violin is intrinsically more difficult than the recorder-- that stupid, fake wind instrument that parents give to kids they know have no musical aptitude.  That latter thing?  Blow into one end, put your fingers over the holes, even badly, and the right sounds come out.  The violin?  That thing is hard.  If you put your finger down on the fingerboard in the wrong place, even by a little bit, the note will be either sharp or flat.  If you bow too close to the bridge, the tone will be too resonant, and sound like nails on a blackboard.  Too much pressure on the bow, or too little, and your sound will be similarly crappy.  So many things to manage all at once.  The violin is haaaaard.  In the hands of a master (as a bluegrass aficionado, I'm a big fan of Mark O'Connor and Stuart Duncan), the violin sounds beautiful.  (Yes, I know, in bluegrass, they call it a "fiddle.")  In the hands of someone who doesn't know what he is doing... Please no, anything but that!

Yup, the violin is hard, and always will be.  And here's the thing.  Some things are easier to play than others.  The first thing I learned to play?  The main riff from Beethoven's Ode To Joy.  Why is it simple, even though it's fucking Beethoven?  Major key, all on one string, no fancy bowing, nothing tricky.  Imagine the kid who just struggles endlessly with that, long after the rest of the class gets it.  You think that kid will turn into this guy?

No.  No, he will not.  If you struggle with the easy stuff, you're going to have a helluva time with the hard stuff.  (Go read about Mark O'Connor.  He scared people as a child with how good he was across multiple instruments).

Supposedly, the House will vote today on the Republicans' Obamacare partial repeal-and-replace package.  It could still fall apart and the vote might have to be canceled again, but at this point, I'd bet on the vote happening.  Then again, these people don't know what they are doing.

Still, the current bill managed to bridge the gap within the House with a set of tricks that make the bill dead in the water in the Senate, and the House is celebrating in a way that indicates no awareness whatsoever of that problem.  The Freedom Caucus is demanding that states be able to opt out of the requirement that insurers cover pre-existing conditions.  That's not budgetary, so the Senate parliamentarian is unlikely to allow that to be covered under budget reconciliation rules in the Senate, so the House bill could be filibustered in the Senate.  Now, the House got Upton and a couple of others back on board with budgetary stuff by creating funds for a high risk pool in the states that do opt out, which is a kind of Rube Goldberg compromise, but it still doesn't save the opt-out provision itself from the Byrd Rule in the Senate, making this whole thing a joke.  And, once you remove the provision that got the Freedom Caucus on board in order to allow the bill to stay within the Byrd Rule and avoid a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, you've lost the House.

And I'm still not seeing any of these idiots bother to negotiate with the real players here:  Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski!

Somebody take away their violins.  This is Orange Blossom Special they are trying to play, and there isn't a Mark O'Connor among them.  Give them some bloody recorders and let them try to play Hot Cross Buns like the rest of the musical dunces of the world.


  1. I'm still trying to work my head around the "Congress is exempt in the AHCA but we passed a separate bill to fix that" thing (done to save the bill from the Senate parliamentarian).

    Haven't quite figured out how that works to avoid a filibuster on the OTHER bill (even though it does something popular, Dems should be able to sustain the filibuster on that in order to GET the filibuster on the main bill) to stop the gambit.

    I'm sure I'm missing something.

    1. I haven't paid close attention to it, but here's how I think it works-- the closing of the loophole can be thrown out by the parliamentarian under the Byrd Rule if the Democrats contest it, in which case the amendment is left out of the legislation, but the GOP blames the Democrats for their plans being exempt from the new rules. That lets the Republicans off the hook for charges of hypocrisy because the Democrats are actually to blame. At least Republicans tried to make their new rules apply to themselves. Anyway, that's my impression, but I admit I haven't followed that one as closely as the major pieces of the puzzle.