Getting Obama out of Obamacare

It really shouldn’t be this hard, should it? When one party has the White House and both chambers of Congress, passing legislation and fulfilling promises should be a snap, one would think.

Case in point was the passage of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, that was enshrined by a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president, even overcoming a filibuster to make the law happen. For the past seven years, Republicans have been running on the promise they would repeal what they say is an onerous and unpopular Big Government boondoggle if only they could grab the mantle of power.

They were finally rewarded last fall, so let the detonation begin, right? Well, as the pessimists among us are wont to observe, “Easier said than done.”

The American Health Care Act of 2017, the GOP and President Trump’s signature pledge for change, sits in the netherworld of promise after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was unable to come up with enough concessions for conservatives and threats to moderates to make the dream come true. Trump points his finger at “obstructionist” Democrats, failing to acknowledge they only needed 50 of 52 Republican votes to pass the bill through reconciliation.

But with at least five Republican senators saying they wouldn’t even support putting the measure to a vote, the onus is on the ruling party, not the loyal opposition. But maybe partisanship, politics, and tactics are not to blame here. Maybe McConnell didn’t misread his members as much as he misreads the public.

Maybe, just maybe, Obamacare is working well enough and enough people like having health insurance that the fixes that are needed aren’t repeal and replace as much as, as George Will aptly puts it, “tweak and move on.”

The pillow over the face of the Republican plan was the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s analysis, which showed that 22 million people would lose their coverage under the Republican plan. In a weird coincidence, that’s about the same number of people who are credited with having insurance that they would not have bought or obtained had it not been for Obamacare. Things that make you go, “Hmmm.”

In addition, Republicans were not able to overcome the charge that their plan would gut Medicaid, putting them at odds with governors of their own party in states that had benefited from the expansion under Obamacare, places such as Nevada and Ohio with GOP governors and senators. It was rock meets hard place with escape the better part of valor

McConnell, after a White House meeting with the president, said he and Trump made progress that he thinks will result in victory after the Independence Day holiday. But his problem then will be the same dilemma he faced in trying to push a vote through before the recess: Concern that members would go home and face pressure to vote against the bill because, well, their constituents like it.

That’s a recognition that Congress is working to repeal a safety net program and pare back entitlements that many have come to rely on, warts and all. And it raises the question of just what is the endgame? If you listen to proponents of the GOP plan and read Trump’s tweets, there is one constant – the red-hot hate for the legacy of Barack Obama and the obsession to cut his name from the rolls of a federal program.

Maybe that’s the key change, then. Democrats admit the health care law needs repair so there could be common ground. But maybe the biggest change to satisfy everyone is the simplest. Perhaps if, in a revised bill, Republicans amended it to make it a illegal to call it Obamacare, everyone will be happy and we can move on.

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

In a sitdown with Jim Braude as the legislative season comes to an end, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg said there will likely be compromise on a tax rate for legal marijuana and are confident a bill will come out of the conference committee before the end of the week. The pair also talked other issues, including DeLeo demurring when asked if he’d support Gov. Charlie Baker in reelection while Rosenberg said he backs the Democrat candidate all the way, all the time. (Greater Boston)

Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who oversees the Massachusetts Historic Commission, asks a legislative committee to delay action on a bill that would create an exemption from state law to allow Millennium Partners to build a 775-foot tower at Winthrop Square that would cast shadows on Boston Common and the Public Garden. (Boston Globe)

Michael Sweeney, the executive director of the Lottery, is given an 8 percent raise to $150,000 retroactive to July 1, 2016. (State House News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The head of Fall River’s substance abuse grant program, handpicked by Mayor Jasiel Correia after a fight with the City Council, resigned one day after reports surfaced about his extravagant spending at a New York City drug treatment conference last year. (Herald News)

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell criticized the City Council for shaving the budget before taking two votes to pass it in a tense debate, calling the cuts “political vindictiveness.” (Standard-Times)

A 21-year-old Roxbury man has been arrested and is facing various charges after he allegedly used a rock to break one the panes of glass that form the New England Holocaust Memorial in downtown Boston. (Boston Globe)

Framingham selectmen have agreed to reinstall parking meters downtown following complaints from merchants that drivers are parking their cars in spaces all day after the meters were removed for a $10 million makeover of the area. (MetroWest Daily News)

A Lowell Sun editorial says Mayor Edward Kennedy should get behind the City Council’s vote on a new high school or resign.

The Worcester City Council gives town manager Edward Augustus Jr. his best evaluation ever. (Telegram & Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Westchester County in New York is using debt forgiveness to encourage fathers to pay child support. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

Cindy Friedman, the former chief of staff to the late Sen. Ken Donnelly, wins the Democratic primary for his seat. She will face a Green-Rainbow Party candidate in the final but no Republican. (Lowell Sun)

A WBUR/MassINC Polling Group survey  indicates the millionaire’s tax has overwhelming support, while a proposal to cut the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 4.5 percent has the backing of 62 percent of voters. (WBUR)

Gov. Charlie Baker enjoys a wide lead in match-ups against the three declared Democratic candidates for governor in the same poll. (Boston Globe)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s campaign account is bulging with thousands of dollars from business interests in the city. (Boston Globe) Walsh releases information on all donors to a charity foundation he operates. (Boston Globe)

The two top contenders for the Boston district city council seat being vacated by Southie’s Bill Linehan are piling up endorsements, with former Tom Menino aide Michael Kelley touting his backing from state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and a slew of other area pols, while Ed Flynn, son of former mayor Ray Flynn, claims the support of US Rep. Steve Lynch and several other South Boston officials. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Massachusetts cranberry growers are seeking help from the Legislature for tax credits to help them revamp their bogs to keep pace in the global market where they once dominated but now have fallen behind Wisconsin and Quebec in sales and production. (State House News Service)

More than 2 billion people are using Facebook each month. (Time)

Readers of the Chronicle of Philanthropy lean heavily toward long-term good rather than short-term investments.

EDUCATION

State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester, who pushed strong accountability for school and student performance and oversaw the state takeover of three long-struggling school districts, died on Monday of cancer at age 65. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The opioid overdose death rate could more than double in coming years and nearly 500,000 people could die from overdoses in the US over the next decade, according to a new analysis from health officials. (STAT News)

TRANSPORTATION

Steamship Authority officials said the veteran captain of a high-speed ferry mistook sailboats on his radar for buoys, causing him to crash the boat into a jetty at the entrance to Hyannis harbor. (Cape Cod Times)

We are not alone. New York City’s subway system is getting worse by the day, between overcrowding, system failures, and maintenance needs. (New York Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A WBUR poll indicates Massachusetts voters are concerned about climate change and convinced human activities are responsible for it. On both fronts, public sentiment has solidified, rising 10 to 11 percentage points over the last two years. (WBUR)

A moose walking around Worcester is tranquilized at an apartment complex and moved to western Massachusetts. (Telegram & Gazette)

CASINOS

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe announced it will not pursue an administrative decision for federal officials to place land in trust for the proposed Taunton casino following a judge’s rejection, dealing a  blow to the future of the gaming facility. (Taunton Gazette)

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signs legislation authorizing Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun to jointly open a casino just over the border from the MGM casino in Springfield. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A sentencing hearing where Rachelle Bond was expected to be put on probation and released from jail was postponed because there are no drug treatment beds available for her and “she does not want to be released to the streets,” her lawyer told a judge. (Boston Globe) Nestor Ramos writes about Michael and Laura Sprinsky, the siblings who broke the Bella Bond case open by going to police. (Boston Globe)