Since I came to Washington in 1969, I have been immersed in Congress and its policy process. I have seen many instances of unpopular bills considered and at times enacted. I have seen many instances of bills put together behind closed doors. I have seen bills enacted and repealed after a public backlash. I have seen embarrassing mistakes in bills, and lots of intended consequences.
But I have never seen a process like the one Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is using in the Senate with his so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act, BCRA, to presumably repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act; nor have I seen lawmakers responding to the bill, and their own constituents, this way.
Let’s take a brief look at a couple of Congress’s greatest hits: one unpopular bill and one crafted in private. Perhaps the most notorious in terms of unpopularity was the aptly named Medicare Catastrophic Act of 1988, which was substantially repealed just a year later after an intense backlash from a group of more affluent seniors upset that their costs would go up. The visual imprinted in many minds was hundreds of enraged elderly chasing Illinois Representative Dan Rostenkowski down a street in Chicago as he sought refuge in his car after a rancorous town meeting.
Sure sounds like a parallel to today. But consider: the 1988 act was an open and thoroughly bipartisan effort to fulfil one of Ronald Reagan’s promises, to protect seniors against financial disaster; it actually provided a substantial set of benefits for poorer seniors, but because it was financed entirely within Medicare, it included additional taxes on wealthier seniors, many of whom already had some of the benefits in the bill through their supplemental insurance. There was a lot of debate over the elements in the …read more
Source:: The Atlantic – Politics