The Collapse of American Democracy in Congress

With Vice President Mike Pence casting a tiebreaking vote giving the GOP enough votes for the motion to proceed to bring the Senate Obamacare replacement bill to the floor, called Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), we really need to take a step back and understand what unprecedented event just happened here today… and it is the collapse of American democracy in Congress.

This is not hyperbole. Let me explain.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who already proved he has no problem blowing up democratic norms, did not follow the exact same democratic legislative process for the BCRA which every bill that has ever went to the Senate floor in our entire lives went through.

The normal legislative process in the Senate would go something like this:

  1. Bill gets drafted.
  2. Bill gets introduced to the full Senate and objections are heard.
  3. Bill gets referred to a committee, where amendments are submitted or proposed.
  4. Bill is made publicly available for all to read.
  5. Bill needs unanimous consent in committee to go before full Senate.
  6. Bill is debated and amendments are submitted or proposed.
  7. Bill is voted on.

For the Better Care Reconciliation Act NONE OF THIS PROCESS WAS FOLLOWED, instead McConnell’s own newly minted Senate Rule 14 was invoked for the first time, taking the BCRA from step 1, written in the dark by thirteen Senators and lobbyists, and then took it right to step 6. No committees, no public debate, nothing.


Republicans in the Senate have just sent a clear signal to both parties that democratic norms simply don’t have to be followed to pass a bill and because of Mitch McConnell, Congress no longer has to tell the public what is in a bill, or get a CBO score, and can draft bills in total secrecy even from members of their own party. This vote today by Republicans fundamentally changes Congress and pushes us farther away from a representative democracy envisioned by the founding fathers.

If you are a Republican, you should be very upset at this. Not just because of the destruction of our democratic norms, but because Fox News and Republican media have been telling for 7 years that this is how Obamacare originally passed.

Mitch McConnell himself once characterized Obamacare as:

“Democrats on Capitol Hill are working behind the scenes on a plan aimed at jamming this massive health spending bill through Congress against the clear wishes of an unsuspecting public.”

Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, then representing Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, said Democrats were “sacrificing the trust of the American people” by discussing healthcare in secret.

Even Vice President Mike Pence, then an Indiana congressman, called the drafting of legislation affecting “100%” of Americans “simply wrong.”

As a side note, of course these Republicans and Fox News was fucking lying to you. Obamacare went through the same normal legislative process as every bill before it, was publicly debated on for 11 months, multiple town hall events were held to engage with the public, the bill went through 72 committee hearings, had dozens of amendments by Republicans accepted, and a vote was put on hold for the entire summer so a “Gang of Six” with three Republicans and three Democrats could find a consensus. Then-President Barack Obama even held a televised town hall at the actual Republican Party Retreat in Baltimore to debate healthcare with the entire GOP, and wiped the floor with them I might add.

Seriously, you can watch the entire Congressional legislative process and debate, captured on live television. For example:

But these facts shouldn’t matter to a Republican. They were angry at this (false) narrative that Obamacare was passed in secret with no public debate, their anger shouldn’t change just because now their team is engaging in the same behavior you were told was once reprehensible.

So with Republicans in charge, and with their already proven willingness to invoke nuclear options and break down democratic norms just to get their way, we will see this new path used more and more to enact radical legislative changes.

And this now becomes the new normal, this option to avoid all public debate and transparency is now available for both parties who will use it when it suits them.

What we saw today is the collapse of American democracy in Congress, brought to you by Mitch McConnell and the GOP.

House Passes American Health Care Act

I think today is a good day to have a conversation with our friends and family who vote Republican, and find out why they would support such a heartless effort to remove healthcare for 24 million people, allow insurance companies to deny coverage for preexisting conditions, push the sickest of us to underfunded high-risk pools, while giving a massive tax break to the millionaires and billionaires.

Ask them why they think that making the AHCA even more cruel, by removing protections for preexisting conditions, was the only way Republicans in the House were able pass an Obamacare repeal?

Do they know that if they are over 50 years old, Obamacare regulated the insurance industries so they could only charge 3 times more than the lowest bronze plan, and now the Republicans made a change so insurance companies can charge them 5 times more than a bronze pan? Why would they want to support Republicans who just raised they insurance premiums?

Do they know without preexisting condition protections, it will be inevitable that a percentage of people without healthcare will die. That’s right, they won’t be able to have access to insurance and will die. Did they cheer? Were they happy?

Do they know Obamacare is funded mostly by millionaires and billionaires? If they make $250,000/year or more they’ll pay about $250/year for Obamacare, otherwise they pay right now $0 in taxes for Obamacare. That’s right. All of those protections are free!

Obamacare was debated on for 18 months, had a transparent and open debate. Republicans had no plan after 8 years, cobbled together pieces of Paul Ryan’s 2012 health care reform in a secret room that fellow Republican Rand Paul couldn’t even get in to, and they rushed the legislation through so fast the Congressional Budget Office did not have time to score it. Did they know Republicans were so sure of the negative effects of their plan they shielded themselves with exemptions?

The Senate will now take up the bill and only 2 Republicans need to say “no” in order to kill this bill, and send it back to the House. But once it returns, the House Republicans will no longer have the budget reconciliation process used to shove the ACHA through. There is a limited time between now and that Senate vote. And it would be nice to know where your Republican friends and family stand on the health of their friends and family.

What Is Up With Jeffrey Lord Comparing Trump to MLK?

CNN paid contributor, and Donald Trump surrogate, Jeffrey Lord made a very interesting and newsworthy statement during the usually stale morning news cycle, that President Donald Trump compares to the Reverend and Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.

During an appearance on CNN’s New Day program, Lord said Trump should be thought of as the “Martin Luther King of health care.”

In case you missed it, here is the entire exchange:

Fellow CNN commentator Symone Sanders, a Democratic activist, fired back immediately. saying, “Jeffrey, you do understand that Dr. King was marching for civil rights because people that looked like me were being beaten? Dogs were being sicked on them. Basic human rights were being withheld from these people merely because the color of their skin. So let’s not equate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner, to the vagina-grabbing President Donald Trump.”

Jeffrey Lord went on later that day to defend his statements on both Anderson Cooper‘s and Don Lemon‘s nightly show, again making the same racially insensitive statements.

Notably the African-American commentators were upset, and rightfully so. Lord was comparing Donald Trump, who even his own supporters agree he’s not the Pope, to someone who fought for equal justice which opened up opportunities for them and, quite frankly, who all of America owes a great debt to.

But the problem with Jeffrey Lord is that he isn’t just a tone-deaf partisan hack, but also his arguments are always just total crap, and this recent controversy is a perfect example. So rather than focus on the comparison of the morality of two historical personalities, as was much of the discussion on CNN, I would like to focus on the exact argument Lord is trying to make.

Jeffrey Lord’s Position

What Jeffrey Lord was trying to argue, which he also laid out in a CNN opinion piece, is in his fight for civil rights Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used a tactic of suffering in order to bring to light to the rest of the population a great injustice of inequality.

Donald Trump, is now threatening to refuse to subsidize healthcare to the poorest Americans, who would undoubtedly experience suffering. And just as the endless stream of beatings of black Americans by their government on the nightly news in the 60’s brought about social change and legislation, Jeffrey Lord believes that so too would images of today’s poor dying without access to healthcare thereby forcing the Democrats to join Trump in his fight to repeal the big bad Obamacare, which he believes everyone is suffering under because it is mandated by the government.

(Even though the Obamacare individual mandate was originally a Republican idea.)

Why He is Wrong

On one point Jeffrey Lord is correct, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers did use a tactic of non-violent disobedience which regularly involved the suffering of African-Americans, sometimes even creating situations that put themselves in a position to suffer. The resulting attention from people witnessing such an obvious injustice, such as armed state police beating defenseless non-violent citizens, would cause the rest of the population start to question the legitimacy of national policies, and forced their representatives in Congress to make legislative changes.

This part is not controversial, Dr. King was very clear he was following a civil disobedience playbook that was very successfully used by Mahatma Gandhi.

Along with marches and hunger strikes, Gandhi staged many mass protests that put him and his followers in harms way from a repressive British government that was ruling India at the time.

On example during the Dharasana Satyagraha protests, which was a protest against the British salt tax, was a non-violent raid of the Dharasana Salt Works. During the march there was a very real possibility that violence would be used against them, but they marched anyway.


(I know this was a re-enactment from the 1982 movie Gandhi, but this is how it actually went down as reported.)

When Dr. King organized his March to Selma, he and his fellow protesters knew the threat of personal harm was a possibility, as they had been attacked and bombed many times before, but they chose to march anyway.


Look at those clips, what did you notice?

Each protester VOLUNTEERED to receive their beating. Each person VOLUNTEERED to walk forward, look another man right in the eyes, and accepted the pain and suffering from physical harm they knew was coming.

What Jeffrey Lord fails to recognize in his shit argument is there is no growing mass movement of people under Obamacare volunteering to suffer so it can be repealed. This is President Donald Trump threatening to FORCE the suffering of 24 million people by removing the affordability of their healthcare, just so he can bring Democrats to the table for a deal to remove healthcare for that same 24 million people.

(Seriously whoever bought into this idea Trump was this master deal maker?)

In Conclusion

There is a clear difference between volunteering for suffering to fight an injustice and forcing people to suffer.

This fight for equality is something that is so fundamental to Dr. Martin Luther King’s own beliefs, Jeffrey Lord severely misses King’s point.

I am sure Jeffrey Lord is an intelligent man, I am sure as the fan he claims to be, he has read Dr. King’s book Stride Toward Freedom, where all of this is clearly explained to the reader.

So Lord has to know his statement was incompatible with Dr. King’s own explanation of his tactics, but was willing to twist logic to fit his own narrative. There is a word for this, “liar.”

CNN should let this man go, fire him, get rid of him, send him on a “planned vacation“, whatever it takes. Jeffrey Lord does nothing to add to the national conversation except at times like these, when we are astonished that he can make really bad arguments over and over and over and over again.

Jeffrey Lord a dark stain on a venerable news station, the same way the hiring of Corey Lewandowski, who was working at CNN while still working and being paid as a member of Donald Trump’s campaign.

CNN has to recognize this isn’t balance, it’s bullshit.