In pushing their disastrous health care bill, Senate Republicans are now trying to buy off Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski by exempting her state from almost the entire thing. But if Obamacare is such a failure, why would the GOP try to bribe each other with it?
The Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal bill is still just shy of the 50 votes it needs to pass the Senate, and Republicans are getting desperate as the September 30 deadline gets nearer.
One of their main targets is Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has solidly voted against previous GOP repeal bills, but who has publicly remained undecided for this one.
Republicans have apparently had no luck getting a commitment from her so far, because their latest tweaks to the Graham-Cassidy bill are clearly and pathetically engineered to buy her vote.
Under the latest revisions, Alaska gets to keep the Obamacare tax credits while they are phased out elsewhere. The state is also exempt from the drastic changes to Medicaid cost structure, like block grants and per-capita caps, that the rest of America gets.
And for good measure, Alaska and a few other small, rural states will have their Medicaid matching rates increase.
— Jesse Lehrich (@JesseLehrich) September 21, 2017
Essentially, the deal is that Alaska gets to still have Obamacare in return for Murkowski's vote to repeal it everywhere else.
The GOP is, in effect, admitting their entire rationale for repealing Obamacare is a farce. If Obamacare is such a failure, then why would a senator who is on the fence be persuaded to repeal it by being bribed with ... Obamacare?
The answer, of course, is that Obamacare is not a failure. It has guaranteed coverage for 20 million new people, brought the uninsured rate to an all-time low of 8.8 percent, and 77 percent of people in the exchanges and 88 percent of people in the Medicaid expansion say they like their plans.
Paying off Murkowski is not a new tactic. In July, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell similarly tried to carve out Alaska in the Better Care Reconciliation Act after Murkowski said she would not vote for the bill. On that occasion, she stood firm and refused to take the bribe. The question is whether her principles can withstand the test this time, too.
Bribing a GOP senator with Obamacare is simply a desperate and ridiculous last gasp.