Susan Collins had a choice, and did the wrong one. His vote in favor of the Republican misegotten bill made a crucial difference, allowing the Senate leadership to get a 51-49 majority, without needing the embarrassing appeal of another tie-break from Vice President Mike Pence.
But the depth of Collins's policy Iniquity is measured by his betrayal of voters who praised her for "saving" the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when it was revoked earlier.
The Senate bill – unlike the House version – repeals the mandate for people to buy health insurance, so Collins has a particular responsibility for the "death spiral" of the insurance market that Republicans always predicted for the ACA, but now would go through their own embezzlement.
The individual mandate is generally described as the "most unpopular" ACA component and it is, because no one likes to pay a penalty for not buying a product. But requiring everyone to participate is essential for a stable market; The only alternative is for the government to provide insurance directly, something that most Republicans hate even more.
This explains Collins' desperate assertions that his amendments "mitigate" the damage of the repeal of the mandate, citing "guarantees" and "promises" of President Donald Trump: a risky gamble.
And it is impossible to "mitigate" the repeal of the mandate disaster; pouring the subsidies into a leaky bucket just throws good money after bad.
It turns out that Maine has relevant experience in solving the same problem that would create the Collins vote. He once had an unusually high number of uninsured drivers who, because most could not pay for the damages and injuries they caused in accidents, increased insurance rates.
It took six years and three versions, each stronger than the previous one, but the Legislature finally created an effective compulsory liability insurance system: a national model. And, not coincidentally, Maine now has the lowest auto insurance rates in the country.
Collins can not plead ignorance. His main position in the government, before joining the Senate in 1996, was as Commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation of Maine, overseeing the insurance markets.
Why, after opposing the repeal of ACA, voted to make its new key component, an individual market, die a slow death? The official score card of the Congress records the consequences: 13 million more Americans without insurance and very high premiums for all those who remain in the individual market.
The answer may be simpler than we think: Republicans have proven especially bad at drafting legislation, such as the necessary "replacement" if they had repealed the ACA. There is only one thing that unites them: tax cuts, the more the better, especially when they go to 1 percent and the largest corporations in the world.
Collins' explanations here are even weaker than in health insurance. She tweeted that the bill would boost "the creation of good jobs and greater economic growth."
That fantasy exploded by Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs executive tapped by Donald Trump to head the National Economic Council, which asked the top CEOs gathered by the Wall Street Journal whether they would invest their huge tax deductions to create new products and services. Almost none said yes; instead, they would be added to the reserves or merged with other companies; the latter, as the Republicans say, is a proven labor killer.
Generally, there are short-term stimuli when the federal government reduces taxes, but the deficit and long-term debt always increase. Collins could not respond to NBC's Chuck Todd, who asked why he said a $ 14 trillion debt under President Barack Obama was problematic, but that it is okay to increase the current $ 20 trillion debt.
If the goal is to stimulate growth, it is more effective to have government expenditures directly – on roads and bridges, higher education, job training and a dozen other priorities that have withered in the midst of the Great Recession and have not returned.
Now, the only hope for the individual insurance market would be for the House to reject the repeal of the Senate's mandate, which is very unlikely. The principals are not convinced; 80 percent of readers in Collins' hometown, Bangor Daily News, said they voted badly.
There is still a question about why Republicans persist in making tax cuts their sole political priority every time they control Congress.
The answer is in the Democrats. Despite their consistently better management of the national economy while they are in office, they do not dare to say that tax cuts do not work. Even in the Trump round, more economically irrational than the Reagan and Bush II versions, they oppose only the distribution of cuts, not making them.
The Democrats must finally say what almost everyone knows: making the distribution of income even more unequal, while destroying the public services that most Americans depend on, is a recipe for disaster, for both the country as for democracy.
When the Democrats say "no more tax cuts", the Republicans will face real opposition, both in Congress in elections Until then, nothing will change.
Douglas Rooks has covered the State House for 33 years. His biography, "Statesman: George Mitchell and the art of the possible," is now available. The comment is welcome at: [email protected]