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GOP Leaders are Trying to Bribe An Alaska Senator to Repeal Obamacare—By Letting Her State Keep Obamacare

Sens. Graham and Cassidy are reportedly considering a brazen legislative handout to win over a single vote.

Ron Sachs/SIPA/NewscomRon Sachs/SIPA/NewscomThe desperate Republican effort to cobble together the votes necessary to pass legislation that would rewrite Obamacare has now descended into low farce.

For backers of Graham-Cassidy, which supporters have described as a repeal of Obamacare, the number one target is Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who was one of three Senate Republicans who voted against a previous repeal plan in July. The way they are trying to win her over is by offering legislative kickbacks that are explicitly designed to help Murkowski's home state.

One funding boost was already included in the initial draft of the legislation. A report this afternoon indicates that the chief backers of the bill, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) are looking to add several more carve outs that would specifically target Alaska. If added to the legislation, these carve outs would let Alaska escape the core features of Graham-Cassidy.

In essence, they would be attempting to bribe Murkowski to vote to repeal Obamacare by letting her state keep Obamacare.

The core idea behind the Graham-Cassidy legislation is to convert Obamacare into a system of block grants. Medicaid would be transformed into a per-capita grant, meaning that funding would be capped per individual. Obamacare's premium tax credits for people buying insurance through state health insurance exchanges would be eliminated. Instead, that money would be given to states, which would have more leeway to determine how it is spent.

But according to a report by IJR's Haley Byrd, based on information provided by a GOP Senate aide, Sens. Graham and Cassidy are working on a new draft that would keep Obamacare's premium tax credits in place in Alaska and Hawaii, delay the implementation of the per-capita grants the legislation envisions for Medicaid for both states, and provide both with an additional boost to federal Medicaid funding.

It is possible that these changes will not be inserted into the legislation. But if they were, Alaska would effectively be exempt from the fundamental policy changes that Graham-Cassidy seeks to enact. Adding these provisions to the legislation would constitute an implicit admission that its most prominent reforms are not necessary.

Indeed, the attempted bribe appears to be even more brazen than that. These exemptions would reportedly come in addition to the block grant that Alaska was already scheduled to receive under the proposed legislation.

In other words, Alaska would not merely be allowed to keep Obamacare in its current form. It would also be given a large infusion of new money from the block grant. It would be a bribe on top of a bribe.

This would not be the first attempt to buy Murkowski's vote with bonus funding targeted at Alaska. The initial draft of the legislation included additional Medicaid money for "low-density states" that have unusually high per-capita health care spending—which curiously seems to apply only to Alaska and possibly North Dakota.

There is real merit to the idea that states should be allowed more flexibility to regulate their health care systems. But there are serious questions about whether this legislation would provide the sort of flexibility its supporters claim.

Yet what the effort to woo Murkowski shows is that Republicans who support Graham-Cassidy are not attempting to win votes for the bill by making the case for its substantive merits. Indeed, few even seem to understand the mechanics of how it would work.

Instead, they are attempting to buy off wavering lawmakers with transparent bribery that not only adds to the cost of the law, but undermines the chief argument for its necessity. If this indicates the general quality of the arguments in favor of the bill, then it does not deserve to pass.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Reconciliation? Bribes? Lies? Why can't the GOP pass it cleanly and above board, like PPACA?

  • Mickey Rat||

    Shh, nobody tell Suderman how sausage is made.

  • Calidissident||

    Because nobody here (or in the GOP) criticized the ACA for how it was passed?

  • Episteme||

    The sausage is made out of legislators who don't play along…

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    I thought that was Soylent Green?

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    I thought that was Soylent Green?

  • Tony||

    The ACA was publicly debated painstakingly for months.

  • Libertymike||

    Tony, why would you write that against the factual backdrop of Nancy Pelosi's most enduring words: We have to pass the bill in order to see what's in it.

  • Tony||

    I see your out-of-context ancient bullshit partisan hack talking point and raise you the fact that Republicans aren't even pretending to read or understand this bill before voting.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Again, Tony makes a valid point. The Dems want to buy girl votes with free meds and tax-funded abortions (which are every bit as bad as tax-funded vaccinations and the Center for Disease Control watching out for bio-weapons attacks). But God's Own Prohibitionists, who banned diaphragms and condoms when they could, block abortion funding when they can. They also turn doctors into whores for prohibition by threatening to jerk their licenses to knife us in exchange for "expert" perjury. This is the root problem nobody looks at. The Dem platform did not offer to relegalize recreational drugs and self-medication. All they wanted was to ban electricity!

  • Elias Fakaname||

    You really must hate babies as much as you gleefully go on about alerting them all the time. Is your basement filled with rotting baby corpses?

  • mortiscrum||

    Talk about getting millage out of one quote...

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Months! Months, he tells us!

    yet somehow not a single Republican vote, I hear. Eh? Speak up, man, I can't hear you!

  • Tony||

    Well Republicans don't care about helping Americans. This has been known for some decades by people who don't suck their asses all day.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...Republicans don't care about helping Americans.

    I take it you feel, however, that the others do.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Amazing how the world is either Democrats or Republicans, that there is literally no other choice, and that the bets choice of all, none, is beyond your ken.

  • mortiscrum||

    None worth talking about. When a third party gains some actual power, we can entertain the platforms of someone besides D's and R's.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "Amazing how the world is either Democrats or Republicans, that there is literally no other choice, and that the bets choice of all, none, is beyond your ken."

    Given that we're talking about Tony, it's beyond his Barbies too.

  • Mark22||

    ^ The representative from MINITRUTH says so!

    Say, Tony, how much are the Russian paying you per week?

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: GOP Leaders are Trying to Bribe An Alaska Senator to Repeal Obamacare—By Letting Her State Keep Obamacare

    No comedian is clever enough to make this shit up.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    And Lisa Murkowski is one huge crooked, establishment RINO hack. Who only got her Senate seat because her daddy, who vacated the aforementioned seat to be governor, subsequently appointed her to it.

  • paranoid android||

    But using legislative gimmicks and outright bribes to get major legislation passed is wrong. I know this because Republicans have been telling me so for over half a decade now.

  • CGeary44||

    Thank you, Rand Paul. The skinny repeal was acceptable, but this isn't? What happened to federalism? I like Rand alot, but he's wrong on this one.

  • SIV||

    Kentucky gets screwed if this passes

  • swampwiz||

    Rand should get the Janus award for the way he has been able to be for "free markets" while also being able to keep the socialist bennies flowing to his redneck hillbilly constituents.

  • Glide||

    I also think Rand screwed up on this one.

    I would have been happy with his supporting this effort but drawing the line at the Alaska pork-stuffed version. But he's got to know that this was the absolute most conservative legislation that was going to be passed by the current Congress, and for whatever reason his personal calculus said that retaining the ACA was better than getting 75% of what he wanted.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    The desperate Republican effort to cobble together the votes necessary to pass legislation that would rewrite Obamacare has now descended into low farce.

    "Descended"? "Now"?

  • Mickey Rat||

    So, it is a like how Obamacare was passed in the first place?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Yes, except this time without media cover.

  • Tony||

    I don't think you people even realize how much you suck Republican cock.

  • Mark22||

    It's bigger and better than socialist cock. You should try it sometimes.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Tony is jealous. Always a bridesmaid, never the bride. He dreams about being the belle at the Republican ball.

  • Tony||

    Minus the committee hearings, congressional debates, public forums, transparency, and people actually knowing what it is.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Transparency? Dang, Tony, I think you need a new thesaurus.

  • Tony||

    I think you need deprogramming. Spend a week not listening to the opinions of fat rapists, maybe.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    You? You're fat? I had no idea.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Wow, Tony usually has nothing, it today he's really digging. Pathetic.

  • Eric Bana||

    People actually knowing what it is? You mean like how Obama lied about people keeping their current plans, and how he (or at least the architects like Gruber) knew that it was a lie.

  • I can't even||

    Maybe they shouldn't have helped her out when she lost the primary to a conservative Republican?

  • mortiscrum||

    All of the states that went along with the ACA get fucked by this bill, but Alaska gets extra-special fucked due to the geography of the state (on a side note, why does anyone live in Alaska?). Why SHOULD she vote for this?

  • buddhastalin||

    Buy her off and then when the Republican caucus grows after next year's election, repeal the bribe.

  • Lily Bulero||

    Trump might veto that - if he's the dealmaker they say he is he wouldn't want to be known as someone who blatantly reneges on an agreement, no matter how foul-smelling it is.

  • buddhastalin||

    Sadly, you are probably correct. Government handouts are a one-way ratchet in this country.

  • mortiscrum||

    Really? Trump goes back on his deals CONSTANTLY. Not following through on contracts defined his entire career in real estate.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    But it won't be HIS deal. Just an agreement between two third parties.

  • Mark22||

    The way it looks, it's inherently temporary anyway.

  • Doug Heffernan||

    Overall (net-net), will rich people get to keep more of their money if this thing passes?

    If the answer is yes, then it should pass - bribes upon bribes notwithstanding.

    Getting your money back has a price, it isn't free. Pay the Alaska lady off if in the end the rich get to keep more of their money.

  • Johnimo||

    Way to go, Doug. You are exactly right. The left can't accept that its the rich who create jobs, invest in new factories, means of production, and research. The more of their own money the wealthy get to keep, the better off all of us will be.

  • Mark22||

    Overall (net-net), will rich people get to keep more of their money if this thing passes?

    The ACA was a massive handout to corporations and medical providers, and a transparent attempt at Democrats buying votes with tax dollars. It was deplorable.

    By limiting Medicare/Medicaid growth, Graham-Cassidy at least attempts a little bit of cost control. It's still far from European levels of cost controls (which would require cutting Medicare/Medicaid spending by 70%), but at least it's a start. Of course, that's also the very reason why the Democratic establishment and their billionaire donors are screaming bloody murder: they thought they had it made, forcing Americans to pay inflated prices for medical care in perpetuity and by law.

  • Rockabilly||

    As they progressive marxists say -

    If other countries have royalty, why can't the USA?

    If other countries have hate speech laws and thought crimes, why can't the USA?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    If it's not pork, it's not American. Or something like that.

  • AngelaM||

    The Republicans are settinga new low in sleaze. They are not waiting for their law to be scored nor are they allowing extensive debate. Instead they are craming and jaming everything through with no knowledge of the consequences intended or otherwise. They know the bill is flawed so they are lying about what it does and in order to garner votes, they are promising to bail out the red states that refused to accept Medicaid expansion by penalizing the states that did. They have promised that Alabama would see no cuts in the money it received and now want to win over the Sen from Alaska by attempted bribery. These are the tactics of desperate people who have nothing to offer the country or their constituents so they will settle for the appearance of action while depriving millions of people of health insurance but freeing up monies to finance the deficit enlarging tax cut they so desparately want. They sould be ashamed. They dishonor themselves, their states, their constituents and the Senate.

  • swampwiz||

    THIS

  • Johnimo||

    Their bill cannot be scored because each State will have to chose how it implements healthcare therein. That will not happen until healthcare is at the State level, and the CBO cannot know in advance what each will do.

  • Mark22||

    These are the tactics of desperate people who have nothing to offer the country or their constituents so they will settle for the appearance of action while depriving millions of people of health insurance but freeing up monies to finance the deficit enlarging tax cut they so desparately want.

    You say that as if it's a bad thing.

    They sould be ashamed.

    No, Democrats should be ashamed for having saddled the country with the crappy, crony-capitalist ACA and the massive political payoffs that make it so hard to get rid of.

    And you are a deplorable human being for supporting that crap. Go to hell.

  • buybuydandavis||

    The Republicans are settinga new low in sleaze.

    Wake me when the Republicans use the IRS to terrorize leftist political organizations.

  • creech||

    Wouldn't this have been Sen. Sarah Palin if only she hadn't taken her ball and gone home in Alaska? We could probably see Sen. Gary Johnson in the Senate, too, if he had taken another path.

  • Jayburd||

    We actually need the money because of bear maulings and such.

  • Johnimo||

    Really? "Bear maulings" add to healthcare costs in the Last Frontier? Who knew? Give us some numbers with which to work, Jayburd.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Rub some dirt on it, ya sissies!

    I thought Alaskans were supposed to be tough.

  • Jayburd||

    We are fierce, proud, independent etc,etc. But there is only one type of dirt my health plan covers and it is really expensive!

  • Jayburd||

    and lots of skeeter bites

  • Longtobefree||

    Wait. What? Bears are covered if they get mauled?
    What next?

  • Mark22||

    But according to a report by IJR's Haley Byrd, based on information provided by a GOP Senate aide, Sens. Graham and Cassidy are working on a new draft that would keep Obamacare's premium tax credits in place in Alaska and Hawaii, delay the implementation of the per-capita grants the legislation envisions for Medicaid for both states, and provide both with an additional boost to federal Medicaid funding.

    Whatever it takes. The fact that Graham-Cassidy seriously screws over California is an added bonus.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Suderman, dumb as always.

    Bribing a Senator for a vote in no way impacts the argument for the legislation. The argument stands on its own. What it does not do currently is get enough votes on its own. So you bribe to get your last votes.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    It's amazing how Suderman forgot that the "Cornhusker Kickback" was what helped push Obamacare through.

  • Curt||

    It's amazing how people always resort to whataboutism when they have nothing to contribute. It's not that he forgot, it's that it is irrelevant to this discussion. The point is that the legislation is shit and the Republicans are trying to buy votes in order to pass.

    Yes, that happens all the time. Yes, the same comment is true of Obamacare. That doesn't change the fact that buying votes is wrong and serves to confirm the shittiness of the legislation. It's not necessary to point out every past example of that kind of crap when pointing out the current one. Suderman saying that the republicans are f'ed up doesn't also require him to point out that the democrats did a similar f'ed up thing in the past. The republicans are the ones in control right now and are the ones currently doing something f'ed up.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    It's true. This bill looks pretty bad. Straight repeal is the way to go. If the poor really need a subsidy after Obamacare is gone, I say the best revenue neutral approach is to harvest the organs of progtards l8me Tony to cover the cost. Organ harvesting will be complusory.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    It's amazing how people always resort to whataboutism when they have nothing to contribute

    Pointing out that this shit happens all the time isn't whataboutism or justifies what the Republicans are doing. It's pointing out that this is standard political gamesmanship and has been engaged to pass legislation for centuries in this country, both good and bad.

    Try not to be so obtuse.

  • Curt||

    If that was your intent, it wasn't what you wrote. You wrote a complaint that Suderman pointed a finger at the Republicans today, but didn't accompany it with a finger pointed at the Obamacare history.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Tony is throwing a shit fit - that's all the endorsement I need!

  • KevinP||

    My pre-ACA plan went from $2,400 for two people in 2012 to $11,000 in 2017!

    This Obamacare repeal is far from perfect, but I'll take it, Alaska bribes and all.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    $3k pre ACA to nearly $10k for just me.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Since the right-hand (Eric Boehm) says that Graham-Cassidy is not, in effect, a repeal of ObamaCare since DC will still be firmly in charge of Health-care, why would Alaska need the exemption to "keep" ObamaCare that the left-hand is telling us here?
    Or, is this just a multi-dimensional defense of the mulishness of Rand Paul?

  • Longtobefree||

    Sounds like the swamp is not quite drained yet - - - -

  • Lester224||

    The Republican legislators don't understand this bill. They just want to please their biggest donors by passing something. Yes, the Democrats did this too (to one degree or another). That doesn't make it better governance. (The they did it too! argument). Read the bill so that you can at least explain it properly to your constituents without lying.

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