This week a deranged domestic violence offender came to the attention of law enforcement and the nation because he shot a man.
The shooting was top news for days and apparently more important to voters than news that the president was being investigated for criminal obstruction of justice. It was no less than a tragedy and a clarion call for better gun regulation of automatic weapons. That Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was grievously injured practicing for a baseball game, and deserves the prayers and best wishes of all of us who abhor violence, is not in dispute.
Now, about that Obamacare repeal.
Senate leadership is kicking and screaming at its members to take a dangerous vote on its version of a health care bill, which Donald Trump has described as “mean, mean, mean.” Heck, even the Russians, with a brutal, totalitarian regime intolerant of dissent think it’s mean. The goal of the so-called Trump Administration is to cut $880 billion in taxes to the rich over 10 years, and that is what the Senate will deliver.
We said “deliver.” We use that term loosely because leadership (Scalise was the No. 3 guy among Republicans) won’t release the draft, and there will be no hearings until it is voted on. And as for the official cost impact of the bill, fuggedabboutit. A furious Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) protested to fellow senators, “We have no idea what’s being proposed. There’s a group of (white, male) guys in a back room somewhere that are making these decisions.”
Senators say they hope to vote on the measure before the July 4 recess. That recess officially begins July 3, but as history has shown us, make that Friday June 30. Timing is critical here: To delay the vote until after the recess is to make it fresh on the minds of voters heading into the midterm elections. A recent New York Times analysis of eight national polls showed there is no state, not a single, solitary state in the union, in which voters support the proposed changes. Even the most deep red states — Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee — show top support at only about 35 percent.
If you think Scalise’s close encounter with Death had any impact on lawmakers, think again. The House of Representatives’ version of the bill, passed earlier, exempts Congress and their staffs from feeling any health care cuts. Like all other members, Scalise has the option of having a much beloved and well-administered plan available to all federal employees, what the New York Times described as a “supermarket offering 300 private health plans.” Even the right-leaning Heritage Plan called it “a showcase of consumer choice and free-market competition.” It features convenient things such as no ban on pre-existing conditions and coverage for dependents under age 26.
Scalise’s position as Majority Whip (exactly what it sounds like) is to count votes and bring Republicans in line with the party plan. He is up for re-election in November and his seat probably won’t be filled in his absence. In the meantime, he has no less than five lesser whips to badger those Republicans still with a conscience into capitulation. While Scalise is recovering, the whipettes will see to the job of eliminating health care for the 23 million Americans who don’t have the benefit of a showcase of consumer choice and free-market competition.
As incongruous as it sounds, Americans just want what Scalise has. If we are one of the dozens shot in this country each day, we want good health care, too.
Best wishes for a full recovery, Steve, and years of good Louisiana food.