Bad News, Good News, No News

I was going to write more about consciousness, in particular about dreaming, but Senate Republicans finally let the rest of us see the healthcare bill they plan to vote on next week. Unless three of them vote No, it will almost certainly be approved by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. It will then be signed into law by the con man in the White House.

The bill would reduce government spending on health insurance by billions of dollars, which would lead to a harder life or a quicker death for millions of Americans. Most importantly its authors, however, the bill would give a big tax cut to the wealthiest 2% of the population and to favored corporations. Basically, the government will make health insurance more expensive or hard to get for lots of us in order for a few of us to be richer than they already are. You really need to be a Republican to appreciate the beauty of it.

Senator Chris Murphy (Democrat of Connecticut), who seems to be a nice, reasonable person, gives a helpful overview of the Senate bill in this brief video.

In other bad news: 

Except it’s not really news at all. It’s a blog post from Heather Digby Parton (“Digby”) entitled “Why Are They Doing This? Because They Can, or: How To Get Away With Murder”. It summarizes the present crisis and begins with a quote from another writer:

Jamelle Bouie answers the question as to why the Republicans are going forward with their Kill People for Tax Cuts bill [the AHCA] despite the fact that it’s the most unpopular piece of legislation in history:

“The 2018 House map still favors Republicans, and the party is defending far fewer Senate seats than Democrats. Aggressively gerrymandered districts provide another layer of defense, as does voter suppression, and the avalanche of spending from outside groups. Americans might be hurt and outraged by the effects of the AHCA, but those barriers blunt the electoral impact.”

“The grounds for political combat seem to have changed as well. If recent special elections are any indication—where GOP candidates refused to comment on signature GOP policies—extreme polarization means Republicans can mobilize supporters without being forced to talk about or account for their actual actions. Identity, for many voters, matters more than their pocketbooks. Republicans simply need to signal their disdain—even hatred—for their opponents, political or otherwise. Why worry about the consequences of your policies when you can preclude defeat by changing the ground rules of elections, spending vast sums, and stoking cultural resentment?”

“It seems, then, that we have an answer for why Republicans insist on moving forward with the American Health Care Act. Because they can. And who is going to stop them?”

[Now back to Digby:]

It appears they also have a foreign country helping them get elected, for which they seem to be very grateful.

They don’t fear the voters because they have managed to create an alternate universe for them in which everything bad that happens to them is the fault of hippies, feminazis, immigrants and people of color and everything good that happens is because of them. When liberals scream they laugh with delight because it means we are seeing justice at their hands.

And they’ve successfully created an electoral system than keeps them in the majority through undemocratic means. It’s a sweet scam. No wonder they are so confident. They have staged a silent coup and we just have to live with it.

Digby was probably having a pessimistic moment there at the end, because we don’t just have to live with it. What we need to do is pay attention, speak up and vote. But that will take time.

Now the good news. Senator Dean Heller (Republican of Nevada) came out pretty strongly against the bill today. He’s very worried about losing his job next year. That partly explains this:

“I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Nevadans,” Heller said….[To win his vote] GOP leaders would have to “protect Medicaid expansion states” from the bill’s current cuts.

“It’s going to be very difficult to get me to a yes,” he said, noting that conservative [i.e. truly radical] Republican senators would likely be reluctant to add spending back to the measure.

Another Republican Senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, thinks the bill isn’t as cruel or “libertarian” as it could be, so he might vote against it. That would mean we’d only need one more Republican to jump ship in order to sink it.

Which might be what the Senate Majority Leader, odious Senator Mitch McConnell (also of Kentucky), is expecting to happen, according to an interesting column by Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post. It’s called “Cheer Up, Democrats!”. Although McConnell is a terrible person, Rubin points out that he isn’t stupid. He understands that hardly anyone likes his bill. He also probably understands that there is no easy way to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite what the Republicans have been telling their deluded supporters all these years.

So McConnell may be trying to get health care off his plate as quickly as possible, even if the vote doesn’t go his way. That will allow him and his co-conspirators to get back to what they really want to do: cut taxes, kill regulations, put poor people in jail and destroy what’s left of our democracy. (That last part is no news.)