You’ve got to give Senator Daines credit: while he’s absolutely willing to pummel the truth and logic, he’s yet to punch a reporter. That’s about all the credit he can get for a bizarre interview with the Montana Lee papers, in which he pretended to be deeply concerned about the secrecy surrounding the Senate version of Trumpcare before explaining what’s in the bill he hasn’t seen.
Expressing hope that he would, as a member of the Senate, get to read the bill being worked on in secret by thirteen Republican men, Senator Daines told Tom Lutey that he wants to see the bill:
“I have been frustrated with the lack of transparency and the lack of visibility that we are having in this process,” Daines said. “I want to see a bill. Put down all these thoughts now in a bill so we can look at it.
Daines certainly isn’t alone in that desire. In an excellent critique of the process, The New Republic’s Brian Beutler argues that the last time the Senate tried to legislate like this happened over one hundred years ago:
Republicans are attempting something that hasn’t been done since before World War I, and that has rarely succeeded, precisely because the country was founded to embody nobler ideals. Rather than run draft legislation through an open committee process, Republicans have outsourced the entire deliberation to 13 male senators from 10 states. The Senate GOP advantage in small states is reflected in the working group, and then compounded by the fact that it includes both senators from Wyoming and Utah. The senators who have been looped into the process represent less than one quarter of the nation’s population.
There’s no question why the Senate isn’t openly debating this bill. It’s deeply unpopular across the country–with the people in exactly zero states supporting the broad idea of the bill–and Republicans want to avoid the bother of having to listen to their constituents discuss pesky concerns like fearing they will die if the bill becomes law.
And so it makes political sense for Daines to express his “frustration” with the secrecy characterizing the process.
The only problem? Daines went on in the interview to explain away major concerns people have with the bill, despite professing to be outside of the secret committee:
Daines said Senate Republicans will allow states to continue the expanded Medicaid program — something House Republicans opposed in their Affordable Health Care Act legislation passed earlier this spring.
He went on to discuss how the bill will have health savings accounts (which are only really useful for people with sufficient resources to take advantage of them), larger insurance pools, and protection for people with preëxisting conditions.
Convenient that Daines seems to know details of the bill that will prove to be politically popular but doesn’t know all the elements, from increased mortality and costs, that will not, isn’t it?
Not satisfied with dissembling on his level of knowledge about the bill, Daines went on to attack Montana groups opposing the bill:
“There are those in the state who I think are putting out information that’s not entirely accurate, creating a lot of concern and fears that frankly do not align with where it looks like this bill text is headed at the moment,” Daines said.
That’s rich. After feigning ignorance about the details of the bill, which, if close to the House bill, will increase deficits and lead to fewer people having coverage, Daines not only swept aside concerns many Montanans have about the bill but attacked opponents for spreading misinformation. That’s the kind of twisted logic you’d expect from someone who spent his career outsourcing jobs while claiming to help American workers, not someone who is being honest with his constituents. Oh, wait.
What is it, Senator Daines? Do you know what’s in the bill or not? And will you give Montanans the opportunity to be ignored by your office when the bill text finally comes out? And why is it that you were not included in the secret committee to discuss the future of healthcare in the United States?
All questions we should be sending to Senator Daines’s office. Call him at (202) 224-2651 today.