By Tom Cushing
“These are our friends. These are our families. These are our neighbors.”Uploaded: Jun 25, 2017
“These are folks who are worth fighting for,” Gov. Sandoval said of the 210,000 Nevadans who obtained Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Granted that Mr. Sandoval is not a US Senator from the Silver State, so formally he only counts as just another voter. His viewpoint, however, has motivated his Republican colleague Sen. Dean Heller to oppose the Senate’s copycat version of the House of Reps.’ reprehensible bill seeking to gut the ACA, or ObamaCare.
By way of a small digression, I have been poking around the ‘net, seeking background for a blog on ‘tribalism’ as a working model of contemporary American politics (yes, on both sides of the aisle). It turns out that quite a bit has been written in terms of diagnosis (e.g., when you see political claim, do you decide how you feel based on the source – and then go looking (in your chosen media) for justification? You're in the tribe.). There’s a lot less out there on ‘cure’, unfortunately, but I’ll keep looking.
Mr. Sandoval’s quote is a fascinating turn of phrase, as an example of a pretty inclusive tribalism. It expresses empathy for those close by (families, neighbors, friends – who are numerous, even in sagebrush country), thereby rejecting the ‘Othering’ of Medicaid recipients. It’s a recognition that these Nevadans are not Those Other People – they are Us. Indeed, Medicaid assistance is a godsend for fully 1-in-5 Americans. Ironically, that fraction is even higher (1 in 4) in more rural, and redder states.
It also reveals the wretched cruelty of the Senate offering. Billed as a rebuild of the House-passed version (which even the Prez called ‘mean’), it is instead a simple variation on the theme. As such, it registers familiar GOP themes of pushing responsibility out to the states, and massively cutting taxes on the wealthiest among us. Much has been made of the facts that it was drafted in secret, by an all-male cast of characters *, but one might also ask: if this is It, what were they Doing in their man-cave, all that time - watching ESPN?
Congressional Budget Office numbers are due out shortly, and they are not likely to reflect much less ‘meanness.’ You can tell this because loyal GOP Senators have been busily pre-throwing dirt on the projections. It’s what you do when they’re going to be awful. Early estimates are that upwards of 18 million of ‘our friends, families, and neighbors worth fighting-for’ will lose health insurance coverage. That may be down a bit from the 24 million in the House version, but how many vulnerable, beggared neighbors is acceptable?
I’ll wait while you do the calculations.
Besides sexist drafting secrecy, the other pillar of the GOP strategy has been to rush this stinker to a vote, with nary a single hearing – a chance to be heard by all the many relevant professional organizations who oppose it. The ACA, by contrast, had fifty hearings - in public - over six months.
With the Dems solidly opposed (but without an alternative ACA improvement plan, because Dems are bad at politics), the bill can only afford to lose two GOPers. So far there are five – and those objectors come from both ends of the left/right spectrum. Therein lies the rub – to mollify the righties, you have to offend the moderates, or vice versa.
May I ask that anyone opposed to this inhumanity consider taking a few minutes today or tomorrow – to express email support to the several GOP moderates who are opposed or wavering? They are easy to google, and include the following: Cassidy, Collins, Murkowski, Capito, Heller, Portman, Corker and maybe Alexander. The forms will ask for your address, but it’s most likely that they are primarily keeping count of pros-and-cons.
This is a Defining Moment for those Senators.
It is so for all of us, too.
* Item: GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are members of the Health Education & Labor Committee, but were excluded in favor of Ted Cruz, who is not even on that Committee. No medical doctors, either, although GOP Sen. Cassidy is an MD. Hmmm.