The Jury Talks Back

7/19/2017

This Means WAR: The ObamaCare Betrayal by Senators Capito and Murkowski Can Never Be Forgotten or Forgiven

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 4:00 am

As I mentioned yesterday, I am astounded that so many people want to blame the GOP’s failure to repeal ObamaCare on those who are least to blame: folks like Rand Paul and Mike Lee. As I said, the real villains are the people who voted for the ObamaCare (partial) repeal bill in 2015 — but oppose it today.

Well, Mitch McConnell will soon call for a vote on a reanimated version of that same bill. And now we’re starting to learn who the scoundrels really are.

At the top of the list of giant hypocrites, you’ll find Senators Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — who have both declared their intention to vote against the ObamaCare repeal bill that they both voted for in 2015. As Phil Kerpen said:

They have no excuse for this, and their betrayal will save ObamaCare.

This means war.

Capito and Murkowski are the most worthless type of hypocrites imaginable. They have postured as being against Obamacare, but they never really were. They voted in favor of the (partial) repeal in 2015 — and yet they claim they cannot vote for the same bill today, in 2017.

What is the difference between 2015 and 2017? Yesterday afternoon I sent emails to the press offices of Senators Capito and Murkowski, asking them why they would choose not to vote for the exact same bill they voted for in 2015. I received no response from Senator Capito, and a canned statement from Senator Murkowski that does not remotely begin to address the questions I had asked.

So what is the difference between 2015 and 2017? I’ll tell you what the difference is. The difference is that today, in 2017, we have a president who would sign that repeal bill into law. In 2015, we did not.

Senators Capito and Murkowski knew this. They lied to their voters, straight up.

Now: we all know that there are surely plenty of other cowards hiding behind the skirts of these two senators. (Hi, Rob Portman!) I suspect that Capito and Murkowski were chosen to be the primary fall guys (or fall gals, as it happens) because they’re not up for reelection for four years (in the case of Capito) and six years (in the case of Murkowski). I think the GOP establishment is hoping that you will forget about their treachery in the intervening four to six years.

I, for one, am not going to forget. I will never forget.

I hereby pledge to donate money to the strongest conservative challenger willing to primary either of these senators on the basis of their refusal to vote to repeal Obamacare. I don’t care if I have to wait until 2020 or 2022, I am doing it. And I will vocally support that person against these Senators, and do everything I can to see that these women are unseated.

So if there are others, why pick on Capito and Murkowski? Oh, I’m willing to do the same for anyone who votes against the repeal bill. We just don’t know who they are yet. But yes, I am focused on these two senators, because they are the ones who came out against the bill first, and will give political cover for others to do the same. We have to make an example out of somebody, so we might as well start with them — pour encourager les autres.

So here’s what we do. We primary them. We never, ever forget this betrayal. This goes for anybody else who votes against having this legislation going forward. All of them get the same treatment. No more donations for any of the turncoats. If they appear on the radio, we call in and rip them to shreds for this vote. We confront them wherever and whenever we can. We pull out all the stops.

Some, I expect, will go further. Some will simply stop voting for the GOP or donating money to the GOP. If you choose to go that route, I suggest you tell them exactly why.

One final point: some of you may be asking: why am I not screaming at Susan Collins? Am I mad at Susan and Collins? Well, sure. Of course I’m mad at Susan Collins — for being a complete economic nincompoop who is furthering a disastrous socialistic healthcare regime that is going to drive health care costs into the stratosphere and bankrupt middle America. But she didn’t vote for the 2015 bill. She didn’t pretend to be for repeal when it didn’t matter. (If you want a full list of who did vote for the bill in 2015, together with an analysis of who is still in the Senate today, I did that work for you here.)

Yes, Susan Collins might be an economic illiterate and the functional equivalent of a Democrat. But Susan Collins didn’t lie to her voters with her 2015 vote. Capito and Murkowski did. Capito and Murkowsi lied. They lied — and they must pay the price for lying.

I can’t make them pay a political price by myself. You have to join me. So I ask you:

Who’s with me?

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

9 Comments »

  1. Blaming Murkowski and Capito for misleading their colleagues and constituents is entirely appropriate, but so is blaming Lee and Paul for preferring no loaf to half a loaf, IMHO.

    Comment by Andrew — 7/19/2017 @ 5:46 am

  2. Paul and Lee didn’t run as Senators representing the United States. They represent their States and they are doing what they campaigned on in their State elections. Unlike Capito and Murkowski, their positions are not a surprise to the voters who elected them.

    Comment by DRJ — 7/19/2017 @ 7:51 am

  3. Patrick, I agree with you on just about everything (and thus normally find your arguments unassailable!), but with all respect I think you going a bit overboard with this febrile talk of “treachery” and “betrayal”.

    The 2015 “repeal” sailed through congress precisely because everyone knew it was DoA. There was no negotiation or concern given to what would replace the ACA because it would have been a colossal and utterly stupid waste of time to go through that process in 2015 when the chance of the result becoming law was exactly zero. In 2015, the GOP had the luxury of not needing to agree on what would happen after a repeal that had no chance of being signed into law. It was a fundamentally different political situation, and thus, it is not surprising to me that some of the politicians involved see the same bill in a different light now.

    In 2015, it was a smart and effective move to go on record opposing a bad and unpopular law, without worrying about the highly divisive details that would have to be settled were the repeal to ever be signed into law.

    You obviously understand all this, and indeed you write:

    So what is the difference between 2015 and 2017? I’ll tell you what the difference is. The difference is that today, in 2017, we have a president who would sign that repeal bill into law. In 2015, we did not.

    Just so.

    I guess where I disagree with your analysis (and indictment) is that I don’t see voting for a broadbrush, incomplete and clearly unrealistic (in 2015) statement of aspirations, which glossed over the points of disagreement that would arise in a different scenario where the bill might become law, is “lying”, “betrayal”, “treachery”, “hypocrisy”, etc. It is elementary politics that you put aside points of disagreement until you are forced to confront them. In 2015, that day had not yet arrived. In 2017, it has.

    And there is another related, and important, factor that you may not be giving due weight. In 2015, since everyone knew it could not happen for years, people who were not health care policy wonks, which probably includes about 80-90% of the House and Senate, had not, themselves, thought through the details that would arise from trying to unscramble the Obamacare egg. As Obamacare has spiraled into deeper and deeper actuarial trouble, and the actual of consequences of different repeal/replace/whatever scenarios were discussed during 2016, and with even greater urgency and specificity this year, has brought to light wrinkles that most non-specialists, including congressmen and senators, were not even dimly aware of in 2015.

    Public opinion has also understandably shifted as people have come to realize that getting rid of an unpopular and badly flawed law nevertheless means giving up some more popular provisions. It did not help that during the 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump, in his utter ignorance and duplicity, advanced a myth that something better, covering everyone, and costing “a tiny fraction” of Obamacare, would be “so easy” and painless to pass, with no sacrifices on anyone’s part. After creating those shamelessly dishonest expectations, any real plan was doomed to look terrible by comparison.

    There is also the inevitable drumbeat of propaganda from the Democrats, and the GOP’s inability to articulate a single, coherent narrative of their own (because they can’t agree on one, and their “leader” is utterly disengaged from any of the policy issues) has had the predictable effect.

    I get that you are angry at the GOP’s inability to agree on a way forward; I am frustrated as hell too, just as I am appalled by the utter lack of constructive leadership from the con-man who sold himself as the greatest deal-maker and communicator in history. Only 12% of his constituents support the bill that he himself does not even have a sufficient understanding of to make an informed statement about, much less a well-reasoned and persuasive case for.

    A real leader (who had the credibility and work ethic Trump obviously lacks) would be out in the trenches, day after day, week after week, moving the needle of public opinion and hammering home to people why the plan is good for the country and will give people better and more affordable healthcare choices. That marshaling of public opinion would ultimately translate into winning congressional roll calls.

    But Trump has no desire or ability to lead. As National Review’s Tiana Lowe wrote in a great article:

    Critics have used Trump’s apathy toward specifics as a defense: He would have signed any bill, so the onus was on congressional Republicans to bring him something to approve. But the president is not supposed to be just an “R” and a pen waiting at the finish line. Leading not just the White House but the Republican party as a whole, Trump bears the central responsibility for selling a true Obamacare repeal and, hopefully, a market-centric replacement — be it now or in the future — to the American people.

    Comment by Dave — 7/19/2017 @ 9:14 am

  4. In an abundance of caution, to avoid any appearance of misconstruing or mischaracterizing Patrick’s words, I’d like to amend one sentence of my long post to be more accurate:

    I guess where I disagree with your analysis (and indictment) is that I don’t see voting for a broadbrush, incomplete and clearly unrealistic (in 2015) statement of aspirations, which glossed over the points of disagreement that would arise in a different scenario where the bill might become law, and then declining to support the identical (or nearly-identical) language today, where it will, is “lying”, “betrayal”, “treachery”, “hypocrisy”, etc.

    The bolded part is added for clarification.

    Comment by Dave — 7/19/2017 @ 9:24 am

  5. I think elected officials should represent the interests of the voters and constituents, and Capito and Murkowski come from States whose voters rely on government largesse. Thus, they are probably doing what their constituents want. IOW their voters might have initially opposed changing healthcare but now they don’t want to lose an existing government program giveaway.

    However, I do object to the way these Senators publicly announced their positions so quickly after McConnell said he would pursue repeal. They clearly want to damage the repeal effort so there may not even be a vote. They probably also want to give cover to other Senators who oppose repeal. Maybe that is McConnell”s plan.

    Not every bill passes but we deserve to know where our elected officials and the leadership stands. The GOP is good at talking the talk but not walking the walk, so there needs to be a vote. Otherwise the Republicans show they have mastered the art of being a permanent minority party, even when they are in the majority.

    Comment by DRJ — 7/19/2017 @ 3:57 pm

  6. Republicans show they have mastered the art of being a permanent minority party, even when they are in the majority, by failing to scale back the damage done by Obamacare in any way whatsoever. I doubt that’s what the voters in Utah or Kentucky want (if Kentuckians want that, then Senator McConnell would probably be behaving more like Sen. Paul). It’s also too bad there’s not more support for the Graham-Cassidy proposal to just turn the whole thing into a block grant. Anyway, Trump’s lunchtime meeting today with GOP Senators indicates the project may not be quite dead. I have no opinion about whether they should put the 2015 proposal to another vote, given that we already know how Capito and Murkowski would vote.

    Comment by Andrew — 7/19/2017 @ 4:17 pm

  7. In other news, report late today is that Sen. McCain has a glioblastoma. :{

    I wish him and his family the best in what’s almost certainly going to become a very dark hour.

    Comment by aphrael — 7/19/2017 @ 4:22 pm

  8. If anyone could pull through it, McCain could, and hopefully will.

    Comment by Andrew — 7/19/2017 @ 4:35 pm

  9. It sounds bad. I hope it isn’t. Cancer is hard but brain, head and neck cancers seem especially hard on patients.

    Comment by DRJ — 7/19/2017 @ 6:07 pm

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