The GOP Wealthcare Act is on hold until after the July 4th recess, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants Democrats to push for single-payer. (More)

“Tinkering isn’t going to work, from my perspective. There would have to be a major overhaul of the bill”

That was Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on where she stands with the Senate Wealthcare Act:

[Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and Trump must persuade all but two of the following currently opposed senators to reverse course: conservatives Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin as well as the more centrist Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Rob Portman of Ohio and Dean Heller of Nevada, and surprise opponents like Jerry Moran of Kansas.

“There’s several things we’ve put on the table. And at this point there’s not much give,” Capito said. “I don’t know how, or if, we can get there.”

“Tinkering isn’t going to work, from my perspective. There would have to be a major overhaul of the bill … to win my support,” Collins said.
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But one Republican aide involved in the process said that GOP leaders had not yet engaged in the horse-trading needed to push the bill across the finish line – a key reason McConnell called off the vote early in the week.

“The truth is, we’re not even close. This is not, like, a couple of tweaks,” the aide said.

Republican senators also ripped into the Congressional Budget Office:

CBO Director Keith Hall was also present for the meeting, and GOP senators quickly laid into the man who’s been haunting them with projections of 22 million fewer insured and short-term premium increases, according to people in attendance. It seemed to be a genuine effort by Republicans to discredit the nonpartisan referee so that the GOP’s final health care bill isn’t derailed by the CBO.

“CBO could stand for ‘Confusing But Obtuse,’” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) afterward.

Never mind that Senate and House Republicans chose Hall in 2015 because they thought his scores would favor them. Instead, the CBO projected that the Wealthcare Act would return America to pre-Obamacare levels of uninsured, in large part because its “baseline” health care plan would be useless to the working poor.

So conservatives trotted out Avik Roy to say the CBO is wrong and yes, of course poor people will spend 10-20% of their monthly take-home pay for an insurance plan with a deductible of half their annual income. Maybe Roy thinks they’re stupid enough to do that, but the CBO doesn’t.

All of this leaves Senate Republicans blaming the God-King – McConnell called the attacks on Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) “beyond stupid” – which will doubtless draw a fiery reply sometime soon. But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said his colleagues are less likely to bow to the God-King’s tantrums and the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker, Robert Costa, and Ashley Parker reports that Republicans neither revere nor fear the God-King:

Scrambling to line up support for the Republican health-care bill, President Trump got on the phone Monday with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and urged him to back the measure.

The president’s personal plea was not enough. On Tuesday, Lee said he would vote against the bill. Senate GOP leaders later postponed the planned health-care vote because too many other Republican senators also opposed – for now, at least – legislation that would deliver on Trump’s campaign promise to scale back the law known as Obamacare.

Trump had hoped for a swift and easy win on health care this week. Instead he got a delay and a return to the negotiating table – the latest reminder of the limits of his power to shape outcomes at the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

History suggests that presidents who have governed successfully have been both revered and feared. But Republican fixtures in Washington are beginning to conclude that Trump may be neither, despite his mix of bravado, threats and efforts to schmooze with GOP lawmakers.

Maybe that’s because, unlike the God-King himself, they recognize his ignorance:

A senator who supports the bill left the meeting at the White House with a sense that the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan – and seemed especially confused when a moderate Republican complained that opponents of the bill would cast it as a massive tax break for the wealthy, according to an aide who received a detailed readout of the exchange.

Mr. Trump said he planned to tackle tax reform later, ignoring the repeal’s tax implications, the staff member added. [Emphasis added]

I guess he thinks all of the reports that the Wealthcare Act is a massive tax cut for the rich are just … more fake news.

“Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer”

Senator Elizabeth Warren thinks this is the ideal time for Democrats to step up with a better vision:

She said former President Barack Obama tried to use a more conservative model when writing the Affordable Care Act, but she told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday that Democrats should push for a health care plan similar to Canada and the United Kingdom.

“Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer,” she said, adding that the key to Democratic wins is adopting a more “progressive” approach.

“The progressive agenda is America’s agenda. It’s not like we’re trying to sell stuff that people don’t want,” she said. “It’s that we haven’t gotten up there and been as clear about our values as we should be, or as clear and concrete about how we’re going to get there.”

I think she’s right. It’s time for Democratic staffers to produce a credible, affordable single-payer system. That may be Medicare-for-All, a somewhat less ambitious Medicaid-for-All, or something else entirely. But staffers need to put in the long hours – working with providers and economists – and offer a fully-fleshed-out plan that puts concrete details and practical numbers on the table.

That wasn’t a practical option for President Obama and the crafters of the Affordable Care Act. Only one 2008 Democratic presidential candidate campaigned on single-payer – Dennis Kucinich – and he couldn’t win a single delegate, not even in his home state. But single-payer may well be a practical option now … thanks in part to the ACA.

Let’s move the ball forward.

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Photo Credit: Unknown

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Good day and good nuts