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…