Cassidy is 'sorry' about the Cassidy-Graham process. He should be.
He should be. It's a sorry process.
Republicans complained about Democrats enacting sweeping health-care legislation without GOP votes; now they're attempting to pass, with only GOP votes, legislation that would shift funds from blue states to red states.
They complained that they didn't have time to read Obamacare before it was passed; the Cassidy-Graham bill was still being rewritten Monday with a vote required by the end of the week -- because Republicans are using the same budget process they blasted Democrats for using with Obamacare.
They complained (falsely) that Democrats didn't wait for the Congressional Budget Office to say how much the bill would cost; they're now proceeding without such an analysis.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee chairman, essentially acknowledged that what's in the bill doesn't matter. "I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn't be considered," he said last week. "But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That's pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill."
Now this sorry process is heading to a sorry end.
Obamacare repeal failed in the Senate. Then "skinny repeal" failed. And now, "last-ditch" Cassidy-Graham is foundering. Trump acknowledged as much when he said Sunday: "Eventually we'll win, whether it's now or later."
A sure sign of trouble -- ever more extravagant vote-buying.
Republicans howled about the goodies handed out to reluctant senators to win their votes for Obamacare. Back in the spring, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the Graham in Cassidy-Graham, warned, "if they start doing that crap, they're going to lose me."
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Now he's doing it. He added cash for states such as Alaska and Maine for a wavering Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and a skeptical Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). But he risks losing them with the Cowboy Compensation he added to buy Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) -- making it easier for insurers to avoid covering maternity care, older people and people with pre-existing conditions.
On Monday afternoon, Republicans reaped the chaos they sowed. Even after the protesters were removed from the room, the chants of hundreds of protesters in the hall could still be heard in the committee room: "Fight!" "Shame!" As cops strapped demonstrators to chairs and pushed them to elevators, protesters (181 of whom were arrested) screamed: "Kill the bill! Don't kill us!"
In the hearing room, Democratic senators were only slightly milder: "A disgrace!" said Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.). And Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) proclaimed that "nobody has to buy a lemon just because it's the last car on the lot."
Wyden was so tough on co-author Cassidy that Hatch interrupted to ask for "respect" for Cassidy. "This is not easy for him," the chairman said.
Selling this turkey? You bet it isn't easy.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.
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