The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate kicked its health care “reform” bill down the road. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t have the votes to get it to the floor, let alone adopt it. So he was forced to put it off. The Senate, he says, will take it up “sometime after the 4th of July recess.”
WC thinks we’re going to see the Fried Fish Effect.1
Fried fish can be tasty when hot and fresh, and you eat it even though you know it is bad for you. But once it cools a little, it’s a lump of congealed grease around textureless fishy paste. In two days, three tops, it starts to mold.
The Senate’s health care bill is going to suffer the Fried Fish Effect. Maybe a near-majority of the senators were prepared to bite into the bill while it was still hot, even knowing it was bad for the country, because it said on the label it “repealed Obamacare,” and that was what mattered. Now, in the cold light of review, in the chill of the Congressional Budget Office analysis, in the walk-in freezer of constituent meetings, the legislative grease of McConnell’s Draconian legislation is going to congeal and make it even less appetizing. By the time our hard-working senators get back to Washington, D.C. in mid-July, the Republican proposal is going to be moldy.
You can argue that President Trump ought to be good at selling moldy fish – he sold himself, after all – but Trump has demonstrated himself to be seriously inept at the kind of arm-twisting and favor-trading that makes U.S. presidents effective at persuading Congress persons..
All right, WC has carried the fired fish metaphor past its sell-by date. But the reality is that the Republican Party is badly divided. The right wing wants federal health care, including Medicaid and Medicare, gone. The middle, and largest group, wants Obamacare gone, but is clueless as to what could replace it. The Republican legislators from purple states, including states where Medicaid has been expanded, want to be re-elected and face a firestorm at home if they mess with it. McConnell’s mess of fried fish didn’t ever have a chance of selling to that crowd.
The Democratic Party is slowly drifting to a single payer system. It’s the only thing that makes sense. Mitch McConnell is willing to make 22 million people uninsured to score a political point.2 It’s hard to see a path forward with Congress as presently constituted.
- Credit for this greasy metaphor goes to the late Dom LaRusso, who credited Marcus Tulius Cicero. ↩
- Let’s pause to note that Senator McConnell’s state of Kentucky has one of the nation’s highest rates of opioid abuse. Kentucky saw a 21% increase in overdose deaths, 2015 over 2016. By some accounts, one in three Kentuckians rely upon Medicaid for health insurance. It tells you all you need to know about the Senator that he was willing to throw those folks under the bus to achieve his political goal of repealing Obamacare. ↩