Sen. John McCain just announced : “I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham – Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together – Republicans and Democrats – and have not really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”
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Local comedian and friend of Blue Mass Group Jimmy Tingle is apparently running for Lieutenant Governor.
And on such a day …
— MBTA (@MBTA) September 22, 2017
The MBTA is becoming a reputational black hole, pulling people in who don’t politically distance themselves. Mayor Marty Walsh has little direct control over the T, but surely he has a job as its chief advocate on behalf of his citizens. Well, yesterday the Mayor had a chance to either a.) blithely shill for the city to Amazon, or b.) represent the real, everyday concerns of Bostonians just trying to get to work.
I regret to say that he did not make the right choice:
“And you know, most days, the MBTA’s reliable here. It’s just that when something happens, it gets spotlighted by the press so bad, that it’s like, it makes it sound like it’s crumbling. It definitely needs infrastructure upgrades and I said that yesterday at the Chamber,” Walsh added, referring to his speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.
I don’t think I need to point out that “most days” is not compatible with the word “reliable.” And even the “most days” part is arguable — OK, actually it’s just not true. Anyone who actually rides the T can tell you that. Follow @mbta_alerts and you’ll know. I also shouldn’t need to point out that the T is, in fact, literally crumbling, to the tune of some $7.3 billion(+++) in back maintenance.
Unfortunately the mayor is a “car guy” (like the Governor), so he’s not likely to be in touch with how that literal crumbling affects his constituents’ lives.
This is an out-of-touch statement of Coakley-esque proportions. We don’t expect miracles; we do expect elected officials to be in touch with what’s happening on a daily basis in the city, and treat their concerns with urgency, not gloss.
John Cassidy’s review in The New Yorker appears to be typical of the genre.
Rushing the bill through this way is about the only way it could pass. Several previous Republican bills were doomed by the Congressional Budget Office, which issued analyses detailing how the plans would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health-insurance coverage. By waiting until last week to finalize their bill, Graham and Cassidy didn’t leave the C.B.O. enough time to do a proper scoring before a vote is taken. (On Monday, the C.B.O. said that it would try to produce a limited analysis by early next week.)
An end run around the CBO, for a bill that covers one-sixth of the American economy. How, um, conservative.
Despite this cynical maneuver, there is no ambiguity about the terms of the Graham-Cassidy bill. It would roll back the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, which has enabled about fourteen million Americans to obtain health-care coverage. Then it would subject the rest of Medicaid to substantial cuts by converting it to a block-grant program. By targeting the low-paid, the sick, and the infirm, the legislation would create hundreds of billions of dollars in budget savings; these could then be applied to Republican tax cuts aimed primarily at rich households and corporations.
The bill isn’t just a smash-and-grab raid on the poor and nearly poor, though. It would also undermine the insurance exchanges set up under the A.C.A., by stripping away the subsidies for the purchase of policies, abolishing the employer and individual mandates, getting rid of the lifetime caps on health-care outlays, and allowing insurers to force people with preëxisting conditions to pay more.
They even tried to bribe the GOP caucus.
In a blatantly political move, the Graham-Cassidy bill would redirect some of the A.C.A. money to the nineteen Republican-run states that didn’t expand Medicaid, such as Florida, North Carolina, and Texas.
I’d say this was designed to fail, but I worry that Graham and Cassidy (who both don’t have to run for re-election until 2020) might be pursuing a “Rip the Band-Aid” strategy. In other words, the longer Obamacare is around, the harder it gets to repeal, so do it now and take the hit.
Any other thoughts?
If you didn’t catch WBUR’s Bob Oakes’ interview with health care legislative veteran John McDonough this morning, highly recommended, especially if you like feeling angry and anxious. The bill would absolutely devastate the Massachusetts budget, and the Commonwealth’s , by depriving the state of $5 billion — and getting worse — $8.7B by 2027. That’s because a.) we have expensive health care, and b.) we expanded Medicaid. It is intended to be an atomic bomb to our budget, and the money goes to the states that did not expand Medicaid. Under Graham-Cassidy, it would not be necessary for states to spend that money on expanding coverage to those folks who can’t afford it. You know, because fairness.
It is, in short, a cruel and wantonly destructive legislative MOAB that will certainly lead to budget chaos, bankruptcies, early deaths, and vast unnecessary suffering. Naturally, as such, it has the support of almost all Republicans in the Senate — even as they openly and blatantly lie about its contents:
There’s a sense of powerlessness here in MA — after all, we have a completely Democratic congressional delegation. We’ve taken care of business! But we can encourage our out-of-state friends and relatives — in Maine, West Virginia, Arizona, Ohio, Alaska, Tennessee, etc — to call their Senators. Numbers are below.
We’re familiar, after years and years of it, with the idea of right-wing ideologues coming to Washington and having no idea how to govern. This is what has led to government shutdowns, narrowly-averted defaults on the public debt, and in general, a lack of legislative accomplishments despite Republican control of both houses of Congress. And we (well, I) like to think of the Democratic Party as the basically technocratic, let’s-do-what-works alternative to ineffective governance by the ideologically driven but basically incompetent Republicans.
But there is a wing of the Democratic Party, or rather the left, that would “govern” like the Republicans if given the chance. We saw this part of the Democratic Party or the left at work yesterday, when Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House of Representative, was shouted down by a group of DREAMers critical of Pelosi for negotiating towards passage of the DREAM Act with President Trump.
“Come again?” I hear you say. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why would the DREAMers protest against progress towards their goal, which is the DREAM Act?”
I’m not sure I can explain it. From the news report:
The group carried a large banner and chanted: “We undocumented youth demand a clean bill … We undocumented youth demand that you do not sell out our community and our values … We undocumented youth will not be a bargaining chip for Trump,” according to KPIX.
So if I have this right, the DREAMers are insisting that Pelosi not negotiate anything with Trump; that the DREAM Act should be passed without any concessions to the Republicans who oppose it and who control the Congress.
If you’ve been reading Letters Blogatory for a while, you know that I oppose President Trump and believe he is unfit for office, but that I support passage of the DREAM Act. I want the DREAM Act to pass, which is why I was heartened to see the possibility of a bipartisan agreement between Trump and the Democratic leadership in Congress. The emerging contours of the deal included passage of the DREAM Act along with new border security measures, but not Trump’s infamous wall. That’s a win. But it’s possible now that people with what I suppose are extreme views on immigration (the protesters apparently called for an end to all immigration deportations and for DREAM-like protection for everyone in the country illegally, not just the DREAMers who were brought here as children) might scuttle any such deal. Talk about ideologues with no idea how to govern!
The art of governance in America has always (or at least for a very long time) been the art of bipartisan compromise and accommodation. If we can’t do that anymore, even to accomplish very important policy goals, then we are in big trouble. I hope the Democratic Party will stamp out the kind of ideological, triumphalist, irrational politics we saw yesterday. Otherwise the Party runs the risk of being the mirror image of today’s Republican Party rather than a party that can actually plan and execute policy that works for the nation.