While squads of first responders, medics and volunteers were risking their own lives in the search for possible survivors still trapped in the collapsed buildings of the Mexican earthquake, the dark side of human effort was unfolding on Capitol Hill that would put millions of Americans at risk in a new health care proposal with spitefully bizarre motives.
The assassins of Obamacare were even obsessively changing the rules of how the legislative game is played in Trump Americana these days to erase the Obama name on the program rather than add improvements. Never at a loss for junk politics in public health programs, the GOP’s latest version might also include the bribery of a balking Republican senator.
As this is written, there is speculation that U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R–Alaska, who voted against a previous version, would be granted special exemptions (incentives!) for her state in a new program. For the sake of decency, that would only happen on a nude beach with voyeur Donald Trump as the life guard.
Still, it took a Republican conservative from Iowa to expose the cynicism of the belabored mission to finally prevail on a goal that has been on the Republican agenda for 8 years. (Remember: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his highest priority on the day that Obama moved into the Oval Office was to stop him from winning a second term. Alas, the Turtle failed to outlast the hare.)
Let U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa capture the nasty spirit of his party’s blitz against Obama, of which he shares a role:
“You know, I could maybe give you ten reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”
Well, now. Grassley has been around a long time sharing his corn-fed wisdom and should know by now that campaign promises are seldom the stuff of policy when the winner takes office. And when he talks of “responsibility,” I gasp. But at least he sorted out the meaning of the party’s plunge into more grief for the history books.
But we Ohioans can’t leave the battlefield without a word about the state’s Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, whose incandescence as a political leader is that of a firefly in a windstorm. His timidity in taking a strong stand on any prickly issue as a self-described “common-sense conservative” means little in the security of the remaining years of his term.
But that’s what we get for paying his salary as a senator. His vote against the new bill next week could be decisive for the millions who depend on things like Medicaid. And he will never have to go into the rubble of a collapsed building. He must – for once – stand up for the people who will need health care coverage.
Senator, you might find that it will feel as good as still one more walk in the park.