Opinion: The ‘skinny’ on Senate GOP’s Obamacare repeal plan

“Trust me, guys, I’ve got this. No, I’m not kidding!” AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

This afternoon we may finally see the Senate take an actual step toward fulfilling Republicans’ longtime promise to repeal Obamacare. Exactly what comes next, however, is unclear.

First things first. Before we know exactly what senators plan to pass, they have to begin the process. They haven’t even had enough votes for that, up until now. But the chamber’s second-ranking Republican is indicating they’ll be able to clear that hurdle, at least:

One has the sense Sen. John McCain, newly diagnosed with brain cancer, wouldn’t be returning to Washington unless his vote meant something (and if he planned to vote against the motion to proceed, he could have the same effect by staying home). Senate Republicans need only a simple majority in favor of this motion, because it pertains to budget reconciliation, and it appears one of the holdouts until now, Sen. Rand Paul, intends to vote for the motion:

Paul went on to say via Twitter that he would “vote for any all measures that are clean repeal,” which he defined as “Repealing mandates & taxes, without new spending and bailouts. This is the path I’ve been urging, and what I discussed with (President Trump).”

But as you can see from his entire series of tweets, there are a number of bills and/or amendments that could come to the Senate floor if the motion to proceed passes. While Paul expresses confidence about the bills that can be defeated, it’s far from clear what can actually succeed. The emerging consensus is on something being termed “skinny repeal”: getting rid of the individual mandate, along with some combination of Obamacare’s spending and taxes. Rather than get too hung up on which spending and which taxes, though, it’s worth pointing out that the end-game here appears to be the same as it was when the House finally got around to passing a bill: simply passing a bill.

To use a football analogy, you might say the goal is to keep the chains moving rather than continuing to come up empty on big plays downfield and having to punt. A motion to proceed, combined with passage of some bill that gets the process back to the House, is like a legislative first down. It keeps the drive alive, and gets leadership a fresh set of downs — more chances to make plays and eventually score.

The point of today’s actions, then, is to lay the groundwork for a conference committee with the House in which a final compromise can be crafted that both sides can (and must) live with.

This is not the kind of process Republicans really ought to be proud of, nor one that allows them to continue using the line about Democrats shoving Obamacare down Americans’ throats without fully knowing what was in it. It’s always easier to point out procedural shortcomings when you’re trying to block a bill, and the GOP will have to live with its long record of carping about that when Democrats were in charge. That said, it might allow the two chambers to come together on a bill that can pass muster with its various members and their often disparate interests — e.g., red states that expanded Medicaid vs. those that didn’t — and finally keep the one campaign promise they must keep if they have any hope of continuing to lead Congress after 2018.

UPDATE at 3:40 p.m.: The motion to proceed passed, with Vice President Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted no. The Senate now moves on to … whatever comes next.

Reader Comments 0

386 comments
AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Considering that entitlement programs help the government more than they help the people they were enacted for, is it any wonder the government always blocks attempts to cut them?

oldpunk
oldpunk

The ACA was not "shoved down American's throats". Dozens of hearings, more than 100 Republican amendments accepted, Republicans allowed full participation throughout. Tonight Republicans are voting on a bill they put together at lunch today. TODAY. So please just shut up about the ACA's legislative history.

skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

So is Smooch and  Bannon ,  going to clean house and make Rancid Peanuts the scapegoat for  Orange Clown's declining popularity? What happens to the top liars-Conway and Huckleberry? They get Boy Scout medals for loyalty?

breckenridge
breckenridge

It's really amazing that millions of people listen to a junkie, Rush Limbaugh, every day.  Between fixes.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

That's old propaganda also.

You guys just can't accept more people listen to Rush each day than read the New York Times.

bu22
bu22

@JohnnyReb @breckenridge  Rush is funny and entertaining and he knows he's primarily an entertainer.  NYT is just boring, stupid lies.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Robert Mueller served his country honorably in Vietnam.


John McCain served his country honorably in Vietnam.


 Donald Trump dishonorably hid under his bed with his 5 deferments during the Vietnam War.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

The House Judiciary Committee is calling for a special council to investigate Hillary.

Remember all those calls by Dims for a special council, that Congress could not investigate the Trump/Russian accusations effectively?

Enjoy their about face when it comes to investigating the Hilldabeast.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb 

They are running a day late. The counterattack was scheduled to start yesterday.

breckenridge
breckenridge

It seems that some of the dupes on here need a history lesson and I'm referring to the stupid comparison of the current Russian investigation to Watergate

It seems as though somebody wants to change the subject.  I was talking specifically about the Saturday Night Massacre, not Watergate.  I was talking about the firing of the special investigator Archibald Cox, and what followed. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

No, he was pretty much on target.

You are ignoring the point that in the case of Watergate there was actual evidence of wrong doing.

Whereas on Trump, it's all Dim BS to resist his election.

Uncle-Billy
Uncle-Billy

The Senate has acted in secret because it was unwilling to hold hearings, call witnesses etc. This because every major health organization (American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Hospital Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Alzheimers Association and the Health Insurance Associations oppose their proposals. Information is the enemy of Republican health care proposals.

bu22
bu22

@Uncle-Billy  So every special interest group wants a bigger piece of the pie.  Is that surprising?

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

One by one, Unreconstructed Sore-Loser Confederate:

Ever since Obama won reelection you guys have this misguided belief you and what you think are the majority in America.

It's simply not true.

We are. There was an election and everything.

And did you study under Hedley for the popular vote BS?

The popular vote is what it is.

There were likely enough illegal voters in California to account for all of the popular vote margin.

Nonsense. Utter nonsense, believed by none but Breitbarters. That's purely Trump's ego talking, and he's trying to cobble together a few examples that his stooges will extrapolate using some voodoo math to account for THREE MILLION PEOPLE.

The real polls and opinion can be found in election results and you guys can't get someone elected to dog catcher since the first mid-term following Obama's first election.

You mean except for the majority of Americans who actually vote for Democrats in Congressional races? and the Presidential races? Those election results?

You haven't had a majority of Americans on anything since 2004. (And I'll add, even there you came within 50,000 votes in Ohio of losing--how much fun would THAT have been, to see y'all continuing to defend our awesome Electoral College? But I digress.)

You can't raise money.

Well, except for when we do, rather spectacularly--or did the whole Sixth District thing escape your attention? Oh, and this old Jewish dude named "Bernie"?

You have a slogan ripped from Papa John's.

We actually have a pretty smart new policy proposal that'll appeal to a bunch of swing voters. Not that you've bothered to learn the first thing about it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/07/27/democrats-say-they-want-to-go-after-monopoly-power-heres-why-thats-a-great-idea/?utm_term=.dccf07da62d8

And your leadership looks like someone rounded them up at a nursing home.

Fun fact: Mitch McConnell is nine years older than Chuck Schumer.

But you go on believing your "it."

I don't have to "believe," I know.

skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

How much longer are the Cons going to do Putin's bidding and tie up that new Russian  sanctions bill in Congress so that Orange idiot does not have to veto it and show his Russian patriotism?


Nice diversion with  that transgender BS and  renewed hate speeches about immigrants chopping up girls along with infantile Sessions feud to avoid prosecution of Trump, Manafort and Russian mobsters for their money laundering/real estate scams..


Yeah keep talking about the Dems, Obama and Hillary while our Democracy is on fire.


All of the above too touchy for anyone to report or comment in the AJC.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@skruorangeclown

You can't support one assertion with fact.

Tell us, how much talk have you heard lately about impeachment?

While you are hating, your leadership has shifted their focus to protecting Obama, Hillary and themselves.

It's like a light bulb came on and they realized it is them the special council will indict in the end, not the Trumps.

When this is over, the Dims will be in tatters.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@skruorangeclown

The AJC is a "repeater."

They have to wait until the NYT, WaPo, and/or AP report a story before they either cut and paste or tag-on.

skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

@JohnnyReb @skruorangeclown Nice deflection about the stalled sanctions bill and prosecution of  Russian mobsters who are friends of Trump.


Who said anything about impeachment. 


Typical Con with no clue or concern how compromised  the Executive branch is.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

The Hilldabeast is out with a new book taking blame for the election loss.

Nope

That's a joke.

She blames the loss on Russia, Comey, et al still refusing to face the fact she is very unpopular and that American's see her and Bill for the crooks they are. 

justaniceguy
justaniceguy

"If they dig far enough, they will no doubt find a tie to the Clintons."

Poor ol JReb... still has his hands superglued to the Clenis.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@justaniceguy @JohnnyReb

He keeps forgetting that a majority of American voters actually VOTED FOR Hils Canklebeast Lockerup.

And that Trump's approvals have only sunk since then.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@justaniceguy

An honest poll of Americans would show a desire to prosecute Hillary in order to return some credibility to the Justice System.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnnyReb @justaniceguy

An honest poll of Americans would show a desire to draw and quarter the President in order to return some credibility to the notion of a representative democracy.

Hey, I can make stuff up too, it's fun!

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Visual_Cortex @JohnnyReb @justaniceguy

Ever since Obama won reelection you guys have this misguided belief you and what you think are the majority in America.

It's simply not true.

And did you study under Hedley for the popular vote BS?

There were likely enough illegal voters in California to account for all of the popular vote margin.

The real polls and opinion can be found in election results and you guys can't get someone elected to dog catcher since the first mid-term following Obama's first election.

You can't raise money.

You have a slogan ripped from Papa John's.

And your leadership looks like someone rounded them up at a nursing home.

But you go on believing your "it."

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

You oligarchy worshipping right wing scum aren't the majority now and you never were.

And literally everything you've posted above is a provable lie.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnnyReb @Visual_Cortex

No they do not. See above.

And you can only wish that this was a "dodge." Most Americans hate the President. They may not use the "h" word. But we'll never know because pollsters never bother to ask Americans to choose. (probably the responsible thing to do, although I'd kinda like to see it just once.)

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

While MSM leads Dims attacking Trump the real crooks are the Dims.

Yesterday in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, "Using a parliamentary maneuver, Senate Democrats invoked a two-hour limit on the hearing before Bill Browder, CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital, could testify on how he was targeted by Fusion GPS and its co-founder Glenn Simpson, on behalf of Russian interests."  - Breitbart

Fusion GPS is a Dim political operative group responsible for the false dossier claiming Trump paid Russian prostitutes to urinate on the bed where the Obama's had slept.

If they dig far enough, they will no doubt find a tie to the Clintons.

How long will it take for Americans to realize how corrupt Obama, HIllary and the Dim leadership?

Americans on this are like the proverbial frog in the boiling water. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

But it's SO much better to feed American fantasies about how the crappy outcome of the ACW could've been even crappier!

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Visual_Cortex

What is this?  More HBO nonsense?

Not familiar with it.  Did hear the creators of Thrones want a series called Confederate where they play off The Man in the High Castle theme but in this case the South won the war and slavery still exists.

HBO will be stupid enough to give it to them and there will be howling constantly.

justaniceguy
justaniceguy

@Visual_Cortex Why do conned stoopids fear history so much? Oh yeah, it's because they're usually standing on the wrong side of it...

Nevermind.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

I guess if the Mitch and the boys are to have their way (and it's increasingly looking like they won't) at all, and they actually pass skinny repeal, that's probably the best outcome.

This BS "implosion" of the PPACA that Trump and dumb GOPers continue to speak about will become an outright case of murder, and the GOP's fingerprints will be all over it.

So go for it guys, if you have the guts, but I doubt you do.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Visual_Cortex @justaniceguy

You guys are like the dummies that can't see the forest for the trees.

The big divide among Repubs is the entitlements.

One would think LibProgs would be happy over Repubs wanting to keep entitlements.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnnyReb @Visual_Cortex @justaniceguy

snort. You mean we should be happy that the GOP are doing their corporate benefactors' bidding and slashing the already-meager social safety net that we've got?

You can only keep the majority of this country down and in a world of crap for so long. This oligarchy will be overthrown.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Visual_Cortex @JohnnyReb @justaniceguy

ACA was passed without a Repub vote.

It was doomed to failure from the start.

Obama fiddled with the law pushing the known failures out past his time in office.

Now we have LibProgs like yourself writing and crowing like ACA is the best thing since sliced bread and Repubs are trying to kill people.

What BS.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnnyReb @Visual_Cortex @justaniceguy

Given how Mitch and the boys are barely involving their own party members in this debate, let alone any Democrats at all, I can't believe you think you can continue to play that^^ intentionally clueless card with any credibility any more.

Oh wait--you believe Breitbart. Forgot, you'll believe anything.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Visual_Cortex @JohnnyReb @justaniceguy

Anyone with two grey cells to rub together knows involving the Dims would be futile.

Repubs are arguing among themselves on the entitlements.

Dims would want to talk about single payer.

When the Dims get real they can participate.