Sen. Graham, please stop pushing this awful plan

Graham pushing his proposal recently in Columbia.

Graham pushing his proposal recently in Columbia. FILE PHOTO

If Lindsey Graham succeeds in selling the Graham-Cassidy proposal for repealing Obamacare, it is what he will be remembered for.

At the moment, to watch him as bounces about on an apparent high because of the way Republicans are lining up behind his plan, that’s a thought that would please him.

But it ought to chill his heart.

Sen. Graham is a man who has courageously stood for wise policies at great political risk — immigration comes to mind, as does his efforts over the years to break partisan gridlock over judicial nominations. But with this, he is completely on the wrong track, poised to make health care less available — especially to the poor and vulnerable — than it was before the Affordable Care Act.

As The Los Angeles Times notes:

Not content just to roll back the expansion of Medicaid in the Affordable Care Act, it would cap funding in a way that would threaten services for Medicaid’s core beneficiaries, including impoverished disabled people and families….

Graham likes to talk about federalism — normally a word that pleases me, invoking the principle of subsidiarity — in selling his idea of taking federal money for healthcare coverage and handing it out to the states as block grants.

Since I (just like Lindsey) live in a state that has bullheadedly refused to expand healthcare coverage even when the feds were almost entirely paying for it, that idea is a nonstarter. Worse, it would take funding away from wiser states that have tried to cover more uninsured people.

Do you trust South Carolina’s current leadership to actually expand access to healthcare with such a block grant? I do not.

But perhaps the worst thing about the proposal is the way Graham — and other Republicans desperate to do something, anything to “repeal Obamacare” before the end of this month — are rushing pell-mell to push it through, absent careful consideration and without a CBO assessment.

Most of them, I gather, could not care less about the impact of this proposal on actual Americans, as long as they pass something they can toss as anti-Obama red meat to their base.

The American people do not want this bill:

The block-grant proposal at the center of Cassidy-Graham is astoundingly unpopular, with just 26 percent of all voters and 48 percent of Republicans telling pollsters that they favor it….

Frankly, I’m confident that it would be less popular if people knew more about it — which they don’t, because of the way this is being jammed through.

“Success” in passing this abomination could prove disastrous for Republicans — not only on the national level, but in the state legislatures they so overwhelmingly control, since blame for the mess it would create would be in the states’ laps.

Some speculate that in the long run it would make Bernie Sanders’ single-payer pipe dream viable, such would be the backlash it would cause. This is ironic, given the mean-spirited way Graham taunts Bernie in trying to sell his plan to the right: ““Bernie, this ends your dream.”

I’ve never been a Bernie Sanders fan, but that Trumpist applause line of Graham’s makes me more sympathetic to the cranky old socialist than I have ever been. After all, health care is the one issue on which Bernie is actually right.

Wiser Republicans, such as my man John Kasich, are trying their best to pull their party back from this precipice:

In a letter to Senate leaders, the group of 10 governors argued against the Graham-Cassidy bill and wrote that they prefer the bipartisan push to stabilize the insurance marketplaces that Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) had been negotiating before talks stalled Tuesday evening.

As I’ve said before, that’s what Graham and other more-or-less centrist Republicans should be doing — backing the far more sensible Alexander approach. Instead, our senior senator is rushing madly toward a disastrous policy.

Sen. Graham’s senses have deserted him on this matter, even to the point that he seems to exult that the Trump administration is backing his plan. That fact alone should sober him up and cause him to realize he’s on the wrong path, but it’s having the opposite effect.

And Lindsey Graham knows better. Or he used to…

17 thoughts on “Sen. Graham, please stop pushing this awful plan

  1. Doug Ross

    What will you do if McCain votes yes and makes the final vote to push it over? Will he leave his best buddy in the foxhole on this one?

    1. Mark Stewart

      Yes, I think he will. This proposal of Graham’s absolutely violates McCain’s adherence to the idea of “regular order” for the Senate.

      McCain isn’t a lame duck Senator paying back favors on the way out of office. He isn’t going to bend his principles and tarnish his legacy at this point. Or, at least I would hope not.

  2. Mark Stewart

    By gutting the pre-existing conditions coverage that was the best thing about the ACA – for everyone – Lindsey has rashly offered up what is effectively repeal without a coherent replacement.

    I agree that strategically this is a total disaster for the Republican party on both a national and a state level. But that will take time as this will be a more initially slow-rolling disaster for most people. But with the states going in 50 different directions going forward this “plan” would lead to a rapidly accelerating healthcare debacle. This will ensnare not just the GOP congress, but also the state legislatures who try to score “socially conservative” points with people’s health as they dole out increasingly diminished and restricted block grant funds. It will certainly end up driving the country straight to a nationalized single-payer system – eventually.

    However, the immediate question is whether Graham’s folly is politically palatable for the GOP in the next two weeks? Will they commit suicide to cut the boil they feel festering on their faces? It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks.

    Stranger still, by pushing this Graham is almost ensuring that Congress won’t get any kind of tax reform passed this year. It really is a quixotic folly…

  3. bud

    I watched an interesting interview with Senator Barasso (R-WY) a couple days ago with Katy Tur discussing this new plan. What made it so interesting was that Barasso clearly didn’t want to discuss the Cassidy/Graham bill! Instead he continued harping on and on about how awful the ACA has been. Now I know it’s a common strategy for politicians to deflect whenever questioned by the media but this interview was one of the most extreme examples I can remember. I think that’s the entire mindset of most Republicans right now. All they want is something different. It really doesn’t even matter what that something is. It really is remarkable that Republicans are so reluctant to actually defend the bill. This thing actually has a fair chance of passing. McCain will fall in line with his pal Graham. Murkowski will be bribed. That gets them to the magic 50 threshold. It’s unclear exactly when the negative aspects of this bill will be appreciated by the voters so it may not have the electoral consequences that it’s horrible approval ratings suggest. By then voters will be distracted by other matters. At least that’s what Republicans hope.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “McCain will fall in line with his pal Graham.”

      That’s what I’m worried about. We’ve been able to rely on McCain to do the right thing up to now, but will he be able to bring himself to oppose Graham on something he’s so invested in?

      And Murkowski is a wild card.

      The great danger here is that during the recess, Republicans caught hell from their base (the base that terrifies them) for failing to destroy “Obamacare,” which of course is a measure of the degree to which they have succeeded in fanning Obama hatred. (I continue to believe that the GOP could just pass legislation changing the name of the ACA to “Trumpcare,” and they’d all be happy, with no harm done. As long as it has Obama’s name attached, they will hate it and call it a “disaster” on the basis of absolutely nothing. Remove what they hate — Obama — and they’d shut up about it.)

      This caused them to come back wanting to pass something — anything — by Sept. 30.

      And there was Graham, standing there waiting with this execrable idea…

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Why did Graham decide to “lead” on THIS, of all things? Why couldn’t have chosen to step out on something GOOD for the country, instead of something this destructive?

    The nation was finally safe from the absurd “repeal Obamacare” madness. People were moving on. And Lindsey has to go and do this…

    1. Doug Ross

      He’s just following the will of all those people who voted for him for President. He’s got a mandate. Hehe.. I didn’t even consider the double entendre until after I wrote it..

  5. bud

    Why did Graham decide to “lead” on THIS, of all things?

    Because he’s a self-serving weasel. (Sorry weasels, but y’all are pretty awful creatures but probably not as bad as Lindsey Graham. But I needed something to make a point. )

  6. Doug Ross

    “Do you trust South Carolina’s current leadership to actually expand access to healthcare with such a block grant? I do not.”

    Why? The leadership is comprised of long tenured politicians who have the experience you feel is necessary to run the government since it is such a hard thing to comprehend. Surely people like Hugh Leatherman and Henry McMaster will analyze all of the complexities and render a well thought out plan.

    If not, thank God we have Vincent Sheheen to use his formidable political powers to convince the leadership otherwise.

    You have the legislature you have always championed… let them deliver the goods.

  7. Harry Harris

    Despite the nefarious nature of the plan (cutbacks, disruption of the whole delivery system, shifts of money to states that have denied benefits to their most vulnerable), the selling of this bill through near bribery for targeted Senators (notably Murkowski) is reprehensible. A Senator is enticed to vote for a highly destructive bill without thorough vetting that puts millions citizens at risk nationwide for a few shekels more for his or her state. We know what would happen in SC, Texas, Tennessee, and the like. In addition, states would be forced to choose between funding children’s health care and end-of-life care for seniors who have exhausted their own (and some family members’) resources. What a deceptive bunch, arguing that the states would take better care of folks in counties where they even now fail to provide a “minimally adequate” education.

    1. Mark Stewart

      If the GOP wins this vote; Graham will have solidified the destruction of the party. It may take a few more election cycles, but the GOP will be on an inexorable and steepening decline going forward.

      The “Trump Base” is the group that will be most hurt by this legislation’s passage. That would be ironic if they were able to grasp this. But I don’t think they can see what 10 years time will bring (three even) …

    2. Doug Ross

      Gee, this must be the first time in history that a Senator sold his vote for something he wanted for his constituents. Even good old peacenik Bernie Sanders made sure a chunk of defense spending was allocated to Vermont before voting for any spending bill.

      This is what Democrats and Republicans DO every day. Many call this “compromise” and admire the ability to work out deals.

      1. Harry Harris

        I don’t believe that you can’t see the difference, and I don’t think you believe there is any sort of equivalence to the usual “pork barrel’ trade-offs. I suspect we both know that people’s regularly doing something doesn’t make it right.

        1. Doug Ross

          I think it’s totally wrong when anyone does it. Sanders or Murkowski. It’s politics at it’s finest (and worst).

          The only difference I see is that it’s a Republican doing it. Are you naive enough to think the same thing didn’t happen with Obamacare (I know… I know.. that was a GOOD bill). Remember Nebraska Senator Bill Nelson was one of the final votes to get it passed but only after negotiating specific pieces related to abortion. And Bernie Sanders wouldn’t vote for it until it changed the bill to provide more community health centers (wanna bet many were in Vermont?)

          They all do it. It’s done primarily to have something to take back to voters at election time to say “See I’m working for YOU!!!”

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