Thursday’s the big day in the House of Representatives, the vote conservatives have been anticipating for years, to undo Obamacare.
Or is it? Word was that Speaker Paul Ryan may delay it because he might not have the votes. The levels of incompetence and dishonesty have been staggering here as we’ve watched Republicans do everything they can to avoid having to admit that they’ve been blowing smoke up America’s pipes for seven years now. They have no idea how to provide uninsured people with health coverage, and more than that, they have no desire to, which some of them will sometimes admit in their increasingly rare honest moments.
So they drag us all through this charade. And the thread of hope that we’re left to hang on? That this mean-spirited bill, which gives huge tax breaks to the rich, vastly increases premiums for many older people, and forces folks who lose their coverage for any reason for more than two months to pay a fine to the insurance companies directly if they wish to renew, isn’t mean-spirited enough for at least 22 of them, in which case it fails.
That would be a delicious moment. Unfortunately, I have a hard time seeing it. I think the House will get this passed in one way or another. If Ryan doesn’t have the votes now, he simply won’t allow a vote Thursday. And he’ll work his caucus for however long it takes and he’ll call a vote the instant he has the votes. And if it’s touch-and-go right up to the end, he’ll keep the vote open for as long as it takes, a la Tom DeLay on the Medicare prescription-drug vote in 2003.
Remember that one? You might want to recall it.
It was a Saturday night in November 2003. It was a hugely controversial bill that found the parties in unusual positions—the Republicans backing a government expansion (albeit one for which they, true to form, provided no revenue), the Democrats warning that it would explode the deficit (which indeed it did, though by less than the 2003 projections had it). It was nip-and-tuck all the way as the vote was called.
House votes are typically 15 minutes. But as the clocked ticked down, 14:51, 14:52, the bill was behind. It was going to lose. So DeLay (then the majority leader) lived up to his name and stopped the clock. This had been done once in the modern era, by Democrats, for an additional 15 minutes. The Republicans stopped it for three hours. DeLay browbeat and bribed members, and one GOPer hid on the Democratic side of the floor, crouching down to avoid eye contact with Republican whips. It passed 220-215.
They’ll do it again if they have to.
So let’s assume that it passes, at least the House. It gives the Democrats something to tie around the necks of every Republican who voted for it come 2018. The way things are going, the Democrats have a realistic shot at taking back the House. And Democrats running against vulnerable Republicans could do worse than to point out to voters that Representative So-and-So wanted to throw 20,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 of them off the coverage rolls.
Where am I getting these numbers? From Charles Gaba, the health-care blogger who has become probably the country’s leading Obamacare numbers man. Gaba put together a list, by congressional district, of the number of people expected to lose coverage under Ryancare.
So let’s have a look. The following list is of the 23 Republicans who represent districts where Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump—in other words, the true vulnerables. I give you the district, the representative’s name, the Clinton margin over Trump, the number of people Gaba projects will lose coverage, and the percent of the population reflected in that number:
1. Arizona 2nd District: Martha McSally. Clinton 49.6, Trump 44.7. Projected to lose coverage: 41,011 (5.7 percent of population).
2. California 10th District: Jeff Denham. Clinton 48.5, Trump 45.5. Projected to lose coverage: 111,711 (15.1 percent).
3. California 21st District: David Valadao. Clinton 55.2, Trump 39.7. Projected to lose coverage: 115,255 (16.1 percent).
4. California, 25th District: Steve Knight. Clinton 50.3, Trump 43.6. Projected to lose coverage: 77,428 (10.7 percent).
5. California, 39th District: Ed Royce. Clinton 51.5, Trump 42.9. Projected to lose coverage: 84,259 (11.5 percent).
6. California 45th District: Mimi Walters. Clinton 49.8, Trump 44.4. Projected to lose coverage: 64,806 (8.4 percent).
7. California 48th District: Dana Rohrabacher. Clinton 47.9, Trump 46.2. Projected to lose coverage: 76,102 (10.5 percent).
8. California 49th District: Darrell Issa. Clinton 50.1, Trump 43.2. Projected to lose coverage: 63,727 (8.7 percent).
9. Colorado, 6th District: Mike Coffman. Clinton 50.2, Trump 41.3. Projected to lose coverage: 68,780 (8.6 percent).
10. Florida, 26th District: Carlos Curbelo. Clinton 56.7, Trump 40.6. Projected to lose coverage: 78,331 (10.1 percent).
11. Florida, 27th District: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Clinton 58.6, Trump 38.9. Projected to lose coverage: 81,549 (10.9 percent).
12. Illinois, 6th District: Peter Roskam. Clinton 50.2, Trump 43.2. Projected to lose coverage: 60,725 (8.4 percent).
13. Kansas, 3rd District: Kevin Yoder. Clinton 47.2, Trump 46.0. Projected to lose coverage: 21,008 (2.8 percent).
14. Minnesota, 3rd District: Eric Paulsen. Clinton 50.8, Trump 41.4. Projected to lose coverage: 39,761 (5.7 percent).
15. New Jersey, 7th District: Leonard Lance. Clinton 48.6, Trump 47.5. Projected to lose coverage: 38,063 (5.1 percent).
16. New York, 24th District: John Katko. Clinton 48.9, Trump 45.3. Projected to lose coverage: 80,026 (11.3 percent).
17. Pennsylvania, 6th District: Ryan Costello. Clinton 48.2, Trump 47.6. Projected to lose coverage: 37,638 (5.2 percent).
18. Pennsylvania, 7th District: Pat Meehan. Clinton 49.3, Trump 47.0. Projected to lose coverage: 71,610 (10.1 percent).
19. Texas, 7th District: John Culberson. Clinton 48.5, Trump 47.1. Projected to lose coverage: 26,054 (3.4 percent).
20. Texas, 23rd District: Will Hurd. Clinton 49.8, Trump 46.4. Projected to lose coverage: 24,226 (3.2 percent).
21. Texas, 32nd District: Pete Sessions. Clinton 48.5, Trump 46.6. Projected to lose coverage: 25,140 (3.4 percent).
22. Virginia, 10th District: Barbara Comstock. Clinton 52.2, Trump 42.2. Projected to lose coverage: 29,138 (3.6 percent).
23. Washington, 8th District: David Reichert. Clinton 47.7, Trump 44.7. Projected to lose coverage: 82,060 (11.2 percent).
That makes for a grand total of 1,398,408 people, an average of 60,860 per district. Sounds like an argument to me.
If a vote is held, keep an eye on how these people vote. Maybe some of them, too, will be crouching on the Democratic side of the floor.