Here is the US Senate where a group of its Republican members have launched a last-ditch effort to repeal/replace Obamacare (ACA). What they are proposing is more draconian in its particulars than its predecessor that went down to a one-vote defeat a few weeks ago.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the new bill’s co-sponsors, has sought to rally his troops by threatening that a failure to pass it would lead to the imposition on the country of “socialized medicine” in the form of single-payer, universal healthcare for everyone. This is fear-mongering at its worst; congressional Democrats can’t pass anything into law because they are the minority party in both houses of Congress.

So, all this said, why the “hail Mary” at the proverbial eleventh hour? It certainly isn’t about making good policy and thus, actually governing. No, it’s all about keeping the “repeal/replace” promise that GOP candidates used for over seven years to keep getting (re-)elected. It never occurred to them that they might have to deliver on their bold pronouncement. It is also about getting something (anything) done after nine solid months of zero significant accomplishments. The urgency attending all this is well-represented by the facts that the vote on the new bill will be called before a single hearing on it is held, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has completed its “scoring” (1). Thus, as the votes are being cast, not a single senator will know what the new bill will cost, who it will help and how many people it will harm. This is just about as reckless as you can get. It’s like playing Russian roulette but holding the gun, not to your head, but to that of millions of Americans who have benefited from the ACA.

Dire as the foregoing sounds and is, there is hope:  Once again, a simple 51-vote majority is needed to pass the new bill. As this blog is being typed, we know that at least two GOP senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona will join with all 48 Senate Democrats to kill this new legislation. All it will take is one more no vote and that may well come from either or both of the two Republican senators who opposed the previous proposal (Murkowski of Alaska and Collins [2] of Maine).

In the next few days, watch to see if the one more bill-killing “no” vote materializes. If it does, it would not be surprising is Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) decides to avoid the embarrassment of yet another failed repeal/replace attempt and so, skipped the vote so as to move on to other matters of business. In that case, watch Trump speak and act as though a bag of scorpions had been dropped down the front of his pants.

There is the New York City Headquarters of the UN where the General Assembly holds its meetings. In his first opportunity to address the 193 representatives of the member-nations, Trump behaved like, well, Trump. Interspersed throughout his speech, one heard the sorts of rhetorical flourishes that were so characteristic of his campaign speeches. In other words, he was alternately bombastic, mocking, threatening, nationalistic and condescending. All this was aimed at his domestic political base; the international audience, not so much.

What stood out in all of this, was Trump’s threat to tear up the deal that put a limit on Iran’s development of nuclear arms, while promising to “destroy” North Korea if it did not end its own weapons program. There seems to be some curious logic at work here:   How does 45 expect North Korea to enter into any sort of negotiations over ending their weapons regimen when 45 expresses a readiness to tear up an agreement with Iran that is already in place? (3) Could it be that Trump somehow thinks that he can bend North Korea to his will so that negotiating won’t be necessary? That falls into the category of “very wishful thinking”.

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  1. The term “scoring” is used to refer to the process by which the Congressional Budget Office estimates what costs (if any) will attend the passage of a particular bill, and how many people will be impacted, both positively and negatively.
  2. Susan Collins has already said that she is “not comfortable” voting on any bill that has not been preceded by CBO scoring. That could be taken as a signal that she will be the bill-killing 51st “no” vote.
  3. Trump referred to the Iran nuclear deal as an American “embarrassment”  doing so without considering that five other major nations were party to that same agreement. So, insult one, insult all. Whomever wrote 45’s speech clearly never thought of that and it is a “bridge” much too far to expect that 45 himself would have had the good sense to delete that from his talk. This is not what Dale Carnegie had in mind when he wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People.
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