I’m impressed with how Senator Moran basically handled the meeting. One, I compliment him for going there and having the public meeting. Secondly, he obviously handled it well. He listened, said he understood their concerns, and left the impression he would work hard to address their issues. I’m also very impressed with Palco and the large number of citizens from around the area who turned out to question and listen to the Senator. They had their questions ready, were civil, and were respectful of Senator Moran. This is in contrast to many of his colleagues who have faced hostile crowds and for some, consequently, they just don’t have public meetings. But this meeting reflected the Kansas that we know and love: where people’s passion is matched by a level of respect and a willingness to listen and seek understanding.
However, there is still a lot of political pressure on the Senate from not just the President but right wing political interests in general. The assumption is that whatever the Senate can pass, the House would be under unbelievable pressure to just accept it and send it on to the White House for signature, thus carrying out a Republican campaign pledge of repealing Obamacare. The question of whether that is good public policy or not was behind much of the energy in Palco.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell is focused on trying everything to get the 50 votes for passage, knowing the Vice President would break the tie in their favor. From the outside, it looks difficult given that making the key moderate Senators comfortable loses a couple on the far right. This week, he has announced a delay in the vote because of the absence of Senator John McCain, who holds a key vote that McConnell will need in order to pass the bill. You know he is frustrated because he has now threatened to work with the Democrats, which from my point of view is exactly what should be done. And I believe it is very telling of their approach that bipartisanship is viewed as a last-ditch, worst case scenario to be used as a threat, rather than a critical step to passing legislation on behalf of all Americans. Like the ACA or not, it is in place, and as shared in Palco, there is support for many of the specific pieces of the law and it has undoubtedly made a difference in many people’s lives, which creates a lot of opposition to repealing it. Clearly the ACA has flaws, and this is where working together in a bipartisan way for changes could bring about a much better program, serving more Americans, and done more cost effectively.
So, Senator Moran, now is the opportunity for you to really shine. This is the time for you to stand up, speak out, and make a huge difference for the good of the country and as well for the future of the Republican Party. It’s an opportunity to be a beacon for what politics has been in the past and could be again in this state and country. You know what is on the table hurts too many Kansans and communities. Does improving the ACA have political risk? Yes. However, with four years before your next election, the positive changes would have time to have impact and will less likely be the albatross that some will say today. Of course this does not guarantee an electoral victory, but it may guarantee a better life for Kansans and citizens nationwide. And, having lost elections myself, I can tell you that there are far worse things that could happen. In fact, opportunities could open up that you’ve never dreamt of. I guarantee you would be busy sorting through all sorts of possibilities that would add diversity to your life experiences as well as some new leadership opportunities. Who knows, you could even live full time in Manhattan, Kansas.
Just a few hours after I posted this blog, I was pleased to read that Senator Moran released a statement opposing the current version of the Republican health care bill. As several of McConnell's key votes have moved into the "no" column, it seems that—for now—the current version of the bill has no path forward. However, with that being said, the issue has still not been addressed, and the story is far from over. Credit goes to the many citizen activists who have stuck with the issue and persistently raised their voices to influence our elected officials to find a better way forward. And this engagement cannot stop now, especially with the news that Senator Moran now favors a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan in place. I'm glad he had the wisdom to listen to his constituents on the GOP's replacement bill, and I would encourage him to continue listening on this issue and many others.