Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Dec. 12, 2016.
Photo by Susan Walsh/AP

McConnell sells his health plan in the most cynical way possible

As the political fight over health care continues, congressional Republicans are divided along several lines, but one of the more contentious issues is the GOP’s deep proposed cuts to Medicaid. In the Senate, several Republicans have pushed back against their leadership, insisting that the plan simply goes too far – doing too much damage to too many people.

The Washington Post reports today, however, that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has an argument intended to reassure his members concerned about Medicaid’s future.

Here’s what McConnell has told several hesitant senators (including Portman and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.): The bill’s deepest Medicaid cuts are far into the future, and they’ll never go into effect anyway.

“He’s trying to sell the pragmatists like Portman, like Capito on ‘the CPI-U will never happen,’” a GOP lobbyist and former Hill staffer told me.

In other words, the current iteration of the Republican health care legislation will include brutal cuts to Medicaid, but the GOP’s less conservative senators can vote for it anyway, confident in the idea that, in the future, policymakers will intervene to make sure this policy isn’t actually implemented.

Take a moment to consider just how cynical this is. Senators are supposed to vote, on purpose, for legislation they know would do real harm to their constituents, based on assurances from Mitch McConnell that someone, at some point, in some way, will clean up the mess they voted for.

This isn’t how responsible legislating in a mature democracy is supposed to work.

In addition to this truly ridiculous approach to policymaking on a life-or-death issue, members tempted to go along with such a gambit might want to consider how they’ll answer voters’ questions on this.

Republican lawmakers might find it difficult to tell the people they represent, “Sure, I voted against your interests, but only because I received assurances that the policies I approved won’t actually be implemented.”