Indian Country politics and public policy

Commentary by Mark Trahant

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President Donald J. Trump meets with tribal leaders for Energy Week. He calls the Medicaid cuts will be great for everybody. (White House photo via YouTube.)

Senate bill ‘mostly dead,’ but will it revive after break?

Mark Trahant / Trahant Reports

The Senate’s health care bill is “mostly dead.” But that’s not the same as all dead. And this holiday weekend will decide either the legislation has a second life or if there is a better way to proceed.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning another shot at health care reform (excuse me, a plan to cut taxes and roll back Medicaid) this week producing yet another draft of the health care bill. Meanwhile Senators (as well as members of the House) will break and return to their home districts. This is where the people have a chance to weigh in with a “hell, no!” The Senate bill may be the most unpopular piece of legislation ever, currently earning support of between 12 and 17 percent depending on which poll you read. To borrow the TSA phrase, if you see someone (as in a member of Congress) say something.

Consider this: Medicaid is popular across the board. A poll by Kaiser Health News illustrates this point. It shows that some three-fourths of Americans view Medicaid favorably. (But the poll also points out that most Americans don’t know that both GOP bills would cut deeply into the popular program.) Even Republicans think Medicaid works.

For the past few weeks I have been writing post after post about how bad this approach to health care — I mean, tax cuts — is as a policy. The problem is basic. Many Republicans do not believe health care is a right. So it’s their mission to roll back government. But not every Republican believes that. Some see the effectiveness of programs such as Medicaid and see it’s rollback as unconscionable. (Previous: Health care deserves policy debate.)

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Recent polling from Kaiser Family Foundation shows support for Medicaid across the political spectrum.

 

At a meeting with tribal leaders at The White House, President Donald J. Trump was asked about cutting Medicaid. His answer: “It’s going to great.  This will be great for everybody.”

Read “great” as “clueless.” But the president did say it was going to be difficult to get the votes, “it’s very tough …  I think we’re going to get at least very close, and I think we’re going to get it over the line. ”

We shall see. Mostly dead or all dead? And an all dead GOP health care bill could deliver a miracle.

This is the moment where McConnell will pull out his checkbook. He will be trying to win *cough* buy * cough* support from senators with sweet deals for the folks back home. If that doesn’t work, McConnell said he might be forced to work with Democrats on legislation. Imagine that! A Congress that works with both parties.

This is what really ought to happen. The Affordable Care Act has problems that need to be fixed. But it’s in specific areas, such as the individual insurance market, and a bipartisan approach would actually yield the best results.

But more important the only way that Congress governs again is for leadership to recognize that they cannot govern with Republican votes alone because they don’t have enough votes. There is a split within the Republican Party on the very question of health care as a right, let alone specifics about how much to cut and where.  And that same division plays out on just about every major public policy issue.

But a few Republicans working with Democrats do constitute a majority in both Houses. A lot could get done. The Congress could pass a budget. Raise the debt limit (averting another crisis) and do the jobs that we the people hired them to do. That would take a miracle right? But we can always hope and the first step is an all dead Republican health care bill.

How long will it take for this process to unfold? This will only happen when congressional leaders run out of options and see working with Democrats as the only path forward. This will take time because as Miracle Max said in The Princess Bride: “You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.”

We don’t need another rotten miracle.

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports

Reposting or reprinting this column? Please credit: Mark Trahant / TrahantReports.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “Trump tells tribal leaders that Medicaid cuts will be ‘great for everybody’

  1. Emily says:

    Great update! Also, great advice, “If you see something (a member of Congress), say something.”

  2. I DON’T AGREE BECAUSE WE VETS WILL LOSE VA BENEFITS,OR WILL WE HAVE TO BUY A PLAN?

  3. Dave says:

    Mark – looking forward to your thoughts on their energy discussion…

    Seems history is looking to repeat itself…remember the Energy Self Sufficiency Act of 2005 under W. and Gale Norton?? Here’s how it was to work:

    THE DEAL: Bait tribes with promises of unfettered energy development revenues

    THE CATCH:
    A: Simply set up a Tribal Energy Resource Development Organization (great acronym by the way: TERD-O) that is made up of a tribe and one or more established energy corporations – best if the energy company(ies) have a controlling interest in the TERD-O.
    B. Allow the energy company(ies) to write the tribe’s energy regulations which DOE / DOI will quickly approve so as to avoid any future need for DOI approval of extraction activities and so long as the tribe agrees that the federal government can waive it’s trust responsibility going forward.
    C: As a bonus, congress can claim that due to terrorist threats the safety of the nation’s energy security requires that eminent domain across tribal lands is necessary in order to build new energy corridors. Sen. Domenici (NM) actually threatened to do this back in ’05. Not by accident the energy corp wrote the tribe’s energy regulations to more easily facilitate the taking of tribal lands and now energy resources.

    A “deal” of a lifetime indeed for all of Rex Tillerson and RIck Perry’s cronies.

    BRING IN THE CLOWNS:
    DOE just hired someone under criminal investigation for misuse of federal funds to head up the office that would move this forward. Check out the 111 page report by human rights watch on Trump’s pick to head up Indian Energy https://www.hrw.org/…/tribal-council-lower-brule-and-its-im…

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