Last week, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) said her support for the GOP tax scam, which contains a sneaky repeal of the Affordable Care Act that kicks 13 million people off of their insurance, raises premiums double digits for millions more and guts Medicare by $25 billion, was due to a promise she was given by Republican leaders ensuring two health care stabilizations bills would be signed into law. While experts had made clear these stabilization bills wouldn’t offset the deleterious effects of repeal, in the following days it became clear the GOP has no intentions of moving these bills. In the past 24 hours, as the truth has begun to trickle out, the larger picture has begun to be revealed.
Politico: “Speaker Paul Ryan has made clear he’s not bound by the deal.”“Collins went along with the tax bill that repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to pass a pair of bills propping up Obamacare’s shaky insurance markets, including a bipartisan deal resuming payments on key subsidies that President Donald Trump halted in October. But Speaker Paul Ryan has made clear he’s not bound by the deal, and there’s little urgency among House Republicans to do much of anything on health care before the end of the year. On Thursday, Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker said conservatives received assurances that talks on a spending package to keep the government open won’t address Obamacare. ‘The three things we were told are not gonna happen as part of our agreement: no CSRs, no DACA, no debt limit,’ he said, referring to efforts to fund Obamacare’s cost-sharing subsidies.That could cost Collins’ support after she signaled that her vote on the final bill may hinge on the fate of the health care measures.”
How are things going in Maine?
Boston Globe: “Maine’s Susan Collins was a health care hero, but now advocates are branding her a villain.” “Susan Collins received a hero’s welcome in Maine this summer after she stymied efforts by her fellow Senate Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Crowds applauded her at the airport. Activists brought her flowers and thank-you cards. Less than six months later, protesters returned to the Bangor airport, hoping to greet her with signs declaring ‘Shame.’ Collins didn’t show up… What dismayed health care advocates is part of the tax-cut legislation that wipes out a fundamental element of the federal health care law: the ‘individual mandate,’ which requires that all Americans either purchase insurance or pay a tax penalty. ‘We’re disappointed. Everyone’s disappointed,’ said Marie Follayttar Smith, a cofounder of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, a liberal grass-roots group that has organized several protests in the past week aimed at pressuring Collins to change her position on the tax bill.”
Portland Press-Herald: “Religious leaders arrested at Sen. Collins’ Portland office after sit-in to protest her vote on tax bill.” “A group of nine religious leaders protesting Sen. Susan Collins’ support of the tax reform effort were arrested by Portland police officers shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday. Police waited inside Collins’ office at One Canal Plaza, Suite 802, while the group prayed and streamed their protest live on Facebook. Officers explained that they would handcuff the protesters and take them out in groups of about five in order to fit in an elevator. Group members sang, ‘We are gentle, loving people, and we are singing for our lives,’ as they were led away.”
What are people saying about the deal she cut?
Boston Globe: “She made a political error that’s going to cost Mainers.”“Her critics say Collins got played by accepting those promises. Conservatives in the House are openly balking at voting for the two bipartisan health care bills Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell pledged would be adopted by the full Congress by the end of the year. News reports this week revealed that House Speaker Paul Ryan told congressional staff after the Senate vote that he was not a party to McConnell’s promise to pass the provisions that Collins demanded. ‘She made a political error that’s going to cost Mainers and cost people across the country basic lifelines while [helping] the wealthy,’ said Smith, the Maine activist.”
Bloomberg: “She got rolled.” “Her critics wonder what she’s thinking. ‘She got rolled,’ said Jim Manley, a Democratic lobbyist who worked for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. ‘Despite the fact that she’s a veteran legislator, as far as I’m concerned she got rolled here. The promises she extracted from the Senate leadership aren’t worth the piece of paper they’re written on. The House is continuing to raise questions about why they’re bound by a deal in the Senate.’”
Huffington Post: “Collins is already being asked to accept more things on faith than she was supposed to.” “But no matter the ultimate conclusion, Collins is already being asked to accept more things on faith than she was supposed to. Earlier in the week, the House Freedom Caucus nearly derailed a vote to begin merging the separate versions of the tax legislation until leaders agreed to ‘decouple’ the tax bill from the other spending bills, with Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) telling reporters that the final tax bill would now likely come next week, days before Senators vote again on a spending bill. If that’s the case, Collins will once again be asked to vote for legislation she believes is harmful to Americans with the promise that Congress will mitigate their actions in the future.”
What is Sen. Collins herself saying?
WABI: “Senator Collins Responds to GOP Tax Bill Protesters, May Change Vote.” “Senator Susan Collins weighed in on the contentious tax bill debate from Washington DC. Collins believes the amendments she added in the Senate version on property tax and medical expense deduction for retirement funding improved the bill and that in time, it will lower the debt. But she told TV5 Thursday if those changes are not included in the final package, she will consider changing her vote.”
Sen. Collins — it’s clear: the GOP leadership doesn’t care about you, doesn’t care about honoring any promise they made and doesn’t care about health of this country. It’s time for you to oppose this tax scam.