So what does this mean?
From what I can tell, here’s the situation as it stands now:
* What Mitch McConnell is hoping is that he can basically bribe some individual Senators to come over to his side by including things in the bill that benefit their particular states.
The CBO score, published Monday, was disastrous in that it estimates that a further 22 billion people will be uninsured by 2026 if it passes (15 million in the first year). However, it also claimed that the plan would save an extra $180 billion compared to the House version. This means that McConnell can now use some of that $180 billion to give presents to the Senators he’s courting.
Some of these Senators have been using their public statements about the bill to telegraph what they want changed. Shelley Capito from West Virginia, for instance, could maybe be bought off with more money set aside for treating opioid addiction. She and Rob Portman (Ohio), however, are both also concerned about the cuts to Medicaid; and since cutting Medicaid is (for Mitch and co.) sort of the whole point of this bill, that’s a harder bribe to deliver. Dean Heller (Nevada) is also worried about the cuts to Medicaid, as Jerry Moran from Kansas, who came out against the bill after everyone else had already done the risky bits.
* McConnell is also in the same bind Paul Ryan was in with the House version: anything McConnell et al. do to make the bill more palatable to Heller, Collins, Capito, Portman, and Moran would make it even less palatable to the conservatives who just want to repeal the ACA, period: i.e., Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Johnson (Wisconsin) and Rand Paul (Kentucky).
* Nevertheless, the example of what happened with the House bill has everyone still on edge, with some commentators claiming that this whole round of opposition is political theater and that everyone will eventually get behind the bill once they’ve had their chance to posture for their constituents (and maybe grab some pork).
* A couple of things are different, though. One, we are hearing a lot more noise from moderates this time around than we did with the House version. Two, it seems as if many of the Senators who were not involved in drafting the legislation are pissed off, just on a personal level, that they were frozen out of the process–and even MORE pissed off now that they’ve seen how bad the product is (Heller is personally pissed off about being targeted by a pro-Trump SuperPac after announcing his opposition). Three, the big lobbying organizations are finally lumbering into action. Four, and this may be the Post pandering to their audience but I’ll take it anyway, Republican Senators neither fear nor respect Trump and aren’t going to fuck themselves up with their constituents just to give him a trophy.
* In conclusion: pressure works, but CONSTANT VIGILANCE. During the July 4 recess, your Senators are supposed to be holding town halls. Look up your local chapter of Indivisible and contact your Senators’ local offices and find out when they will be. Go out there and tell your stories. They are hearing from Trump, McConnell, and the Koch brothers and their creatures, for sure. They should also hear from us.