On today's BradCast, big wins for Democrats in very Republican districts, more trouble for the GOP as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finally scores the House healthcare bill, and trouble likely ahead for still-divided Democrats. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
As Republicans struggle to pass any major legislation in the wake of Donald Trump's continuing political and legal troubles, Democrats saw two different huge state-level electoral victories in "deeply red districts" in New York and New Hampshire during special elections on Tuesday. Both seats had been previously held by Republicans for years and, in NY, the former Bernie Sanders delegate who won the set, helped flip the district "an astounding 39 points" since the November election!
All of that comes in advance of a statewide special election for the U.S. House in Montana on Thursday, believed to be "closer than it should be" in a state that went for Trump last November by more than 20 points, and a U.S. House special election runoff next month in Georgia's 6th Congressional District which also went to Trump last year, but where the Democrat is now said to be leading his Republican opponent by 7 points.
The first-time Democratic candidates in both the MT and GA races are raising record-shattering money from small donors, though in Georgia, non-partisan election watchdogs are urging voters to cast absentee paper ballots by mail or, preferably, dropped off at County HQ, rather than via the 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems the state will once again, shamefully, force voters to use at the precincts on June 20th.
Then, just before airtime, the non-partisan CBO finally released its score of the Republicans' American Health Care Act (ACHA), which was narrowly adopted in the U.S. House three weeks ago. Like previous GOP versions of the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), the CBO finds the latest version will result in more than 20 million Americans (23 million, in this case) losing their health care coverage over the next ten years, including 14 million next year alone.
Journalist and health care reform advocate Jackie Schechner joins us with details from the CBO's just-released report, and what it is likely to mean for the future of the GOP legislation in the House and in the U.S. Senate. (She believes the GOP will ultimately fail to pass a bill that both houses can agree upon, so Obamacare will stay in place for the foreseeable future.)
Schechner details how the GOP's House bill will imperil health care for those with preexisting conditions (the CBO found such people "would ultimately be unable to purchase...health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all"); the Senate GOP leadership's strange plan to create a competing bill in the upper chamber with a "group of 13 white men" and no Democrats or even industry experts taking part; how she believes Republicans and President Trump have purposely undermined Obamacare; and how Democrats and Republicans together could actually fix the problems in the Affordable Care Act --- if they actually wanted to.
"I think it's important that we take a step back and take the politics out of this, and start to focus on the policy of what we're trying to do," she tells me. "What we're trying to do is get people in this country access to health care, and to make it affordable. That's where the policy specifics need to come into play, and that's not going to happen if you got 13 white men who are crafting this behind closed doors who have no experience in health care policy."
We then close with a very lively discussion of a Democratic single-payer "Medicare for All" health care bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) in the House. The legislation, HR-626, for the first time ever, now has support from more than half of the Democratic caucus. Does that bill present a way forward for health care reform in the U.S. --- and for Democrats at the ballot box?
We discuss, debate and, hopefully, inform on that and much more on today's BradCast!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)