The Thinker: Rich Galen


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That Healthcare Vote

Rich Galen

Monday May 8, 2017

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  • A Tweet of mine from May 4:
    Here's what I know that I know: When everyone says THIS is going to happen ... THAT happens. Health care vote today may prove that again.

  • You may have heard, seen, or read about the House voting on its version of "repeal and replace" last week. It passed by a vote of 217 - 213. No Ds voted for it. 20 Rs voted against it.

  • The popular press made a big deal about how the vote was soooooo close. Well, it was. It got one more vote than required for an absolute majority. Because of four vacancies in the House (Georgia 6, Montana At-Large, South Carolina 5 and California 34) Republicans needed 216 votes to assure a majority.


    Here's the math. At full strength there are 435 voting Members of the U.S. House. 435 divided by 2 = 217.5 - which rounds up to 218. An absolute majority.

    With four vacancies, there are 431 voting Members. 431 divided by 2 = 215.5, rounding up to 216.


  • The original ACA was adopted by a 219 - 212 vote. Not exactly a landslide. The House was at full strength so Nancy Pelosi needed 218 to assure a victory. She, too, got only one more.

  • Not only that, but 34 Democrats voted against what has become known as Obamacare, versus the 20 Republicans who voted against the bill last week.

  • The ACA vote occurred on March 21, 2010. In the midterm elections that Autumn, House Republicans gained a net 63 seats.

  • Sixty. Three.

  • The Democrats went from a 256-179 majority to John Boehner's Republicans holding a 242-193 edge.

  • Coincidentally, the GOP picked up six seats in the U.S. Senate, although not enough for a majority. Harry Reid's margin went from 57-43 to 51-49.

  • These results weren't solely due to the ACA. The economy wasn't recovering as quickly as the Democrats had hoped, Republicans had made budget deficits a major issue, and President Barack Obama's approval ratings - via Gallup - were mired in the low 40s.

  • First, in the first quarter of 2017, the U.S. Economy (in spite of excellent employment news) grew at a tepid 0.7 percent. According to CNBC that represents "its weakest pace in three years."

  • Second, the House Republicans do not seem to be as concerned about deficits and debts while they are in charge as they were when the Democrat's held all the cards in 2010.

  • And, third, President Donald Trump's job approval - via Gallup - currently sits at 40 percent.

  • All of which sounds depressingly familiar with one major exception: Democrats had less than eight months from the time of the ACA vote to the time Americans went to the polls.

  • Congressional Republicans have a year-and-a-half to re-calibrate.

  • The point of my Tweet was that when everyone is telling me that Republicans are in danger of losing control of the House and the Senate as the result of the healthcare issue, I have no choice but to take a deep breath, smile slightly, nod slowly, and go back to whatever I was doing.

  • The bill that comes out of the Senate - IF a bill comes out of the Senate - will likely bear little resemblance to the bill that came out of the House. Senators might well have been watching the House/White House carryings-on over the first 108-or-so days of the Trump Administration and might possibly have learned from them.

  • They will have had time to actually read the bill which few - if any - House Members did. They will have the advantage of what is known as a "CBO score" and, thus, will have a far better idea of the effects - socially, fiscally, and economically, of any changes in the ACA.

  • By the way, on that business of "reading the bill?" If you've never seen a bill like H.R. 1628 it does not read like a novel. Here, for example, is a random section among the 19,623 words:
    (1) in paragraph (7)-

    (A) in subparagraph (A)-

    (i) in clause (i)-

    (I) in the matter preceding subclause (I), by striking "2025" and inserting "2019"; and

    (ii) in clause (ii)-

    (I) in subclause (I), by adding "and" at the end;

    (II) in subclause (II), by striking the semicolon at the end and inserting a period; and

    (III) by striking subclauses (III) through (VIII); and

    (B) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:


  • Not exactly, "And they all lived happily ever after."

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: The Clerk of the House's page on current vacancies, a link to a graphic showing the 2010 vote on the ACA, to the CBO's FAQ page and a link to the text of the American Health Care Act language.

    The Mullfoto is of a license plate I saw the other day.

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