GOP Senate “Leader” John Cornyn—“Knowing What the Republican Healthcare Bill Will Be Before a Procedural Vote is a ‘Luxury’ We Don’t Have” July 23, 2017
The GOP—it’s the Obamacare “Repealergizer Bunny.” It keeps “going and going and going” ignoring everything else. The GOP made 50+ attempts to repeal Obamacare when Obama was in office, knowing he would veto any such legislation that reached his desk. The GOP legislators’ unsuccessful repeal attempts still resulted in electoral victories. Because of the Republican’s anti-Obamacare stance, its rabid “Red” Tea Party base heavily voted in the non-presidential midterm elections, flipping the House and the Senate “Red” in 2010 and 2014 respectively. In 2017, when Demagogue Donald sat in the Oval Office and the GOP kept the House and Senate, a complete trifecta, the “Red” gang promised that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act(ACA)/Obamacare would be their first easy “victory.” However, truly governing v. merely campaigning proved to be a lot harder for “Team Red.” When the ACA looked dead in the “Red” House, “moderate” (LOL) Trump buddy Cong. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) took this zombie bill from out of its swampy grave and after a close vote sent it to the Senate in 5/2017. Instead of having the Senate act as the saucer that cools hot-headed House legislative brews, the original intent of the Constitution’s framers, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), all by his lonesome self, secretly drafted a draconian Repeal and Replace bill. Canny wheeler/dealer Mitch then tried to push this legislation through the upper chamber before the July 4th 2017 break. When that failed, Sen. Mitch tried Repeal and Replace attempt #2 in the Senate. When Repeal and Replace #2 “crashed and burned” on 7/17/2017, Mitch still did not give up. He next suggested a straight Repeal and later Replace bill. This attempt, #3 and counting, quickly died.
Mitch, however, still will not drop repealing Obamacare. His belief that he’s a legislative wizard, his wish to “win one for the Donald,” and his desire to keep getting Koch and other GOP financial backers’ greenbacks keep him from giving up. Never mind that every score by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) demonstrates that a repeal and replace or a straight repeal bill will increase the number of uninsured Americans from 22-32 million and drive up premiums on many, including the elderly (See NY Times, Kaplan & Pear, 7/20/17). Never mind that the American Medical Association and a coalition including the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association are against such awful repeal measures and are calling for a bipartisan fix to any problems involving Obamacare (See talking pointsmemo.com, Levey, LA Times, 7/21/17). Never mind that by a 50%-24% or 2:1 margin, the public, including key parts of Trump’s base, prefers Obamacare to “Team Red’s” constantly changing harebrained repeal schemes (Wash. Post, Bump, 7/16/17). Never mind that GOP Sen. John McCain is recovering from brain cancer surgery and will probably not be present for this vote (LA Times, Mascaro, 7/20/17). So now, just what is Mitch’s Obamacare repeal Plan #4, which he wants the Senate to vote for early this coming week? Is it a straight repeal of Obamacare, a repeal and replace version, a copy of the House’s 5/2017 bill, the House’s 2015 bill, a newly drafted McConnell bill, or a series of amendments that Senators can offer that might constitute a new plan? I don’t know, but, more importantly, neither do the GOP Senators being dragooned by McConnell for this motion to vote on unknown “Plan #4” (See LA Times, Levey, 7/21/17). McConnell and his leadership buddies could care less. On 7/20/2017, Obamacare opponent Sen. John Cornyn absurdly stated that “knowing what the Republican healthcare bill will be before a procedural vote is a ‘luxury’ we don’t have (“The Hill,” Sullivan, 7/20/17).” Who is Sen. Cornyn?
Third-term GOP Senator John Cornyn (65) is currently Texas’ senior Senator. Houston native Cornyn is the son of a B-17 WWII pilot turned oral pathologist. His family settled in San Antonio and Cornyn received a 1973 journalism degree from San Antonio’s Trinity University. After his career as a real estate agent stalled, Cornyn obtained a 1977 law degree from San Antonio’s St. Mary’s University. He practiced law with a San Antonio firm that defended doctors and insurance companies in medical malpractice cases. In 1984, GOP friends encouraged Cornyn to run for a district court seat. Cornyn defeated the Democratic favorite and won election to Texas’ Supreme Court in 1990. In 1998, Cornyn was handily elected Texas Attorney General against a well-known Democrat. In 2002, Cornyn ran to take the U.S. Senate seat of retiring GOP Senator Phil Gramm. He ran against Dallas’ African American Democratic mayor, defeating him by 12 percentage points. In this post-9/11 race, Cornyn emphasized his loyalty to Texas-bred President George W. Bush. Cornyn stood for supporting government vouchers for private schools, way before Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made this attempt to hurt public education a national priority. Cornyn was for individual investment accounts as part of Social Security, which would gut that major safety net program. He wanted to make W’s pro-rich tax cuts permanent. In 2008, Cornyn defeated a Democratic Hispanic-American state representative, snaring 55% of the vote. In GOP year 2014, Cornyn trounced his “Blue” opponent with nearly 62% of the vote (“Office of the Tx. Sec. of State 2014 General Election Night Returns,” CQ & Barone 14 Almanacs).
Cornyn is no shy back-bencher, and has quickly risen through the ranks into the Senate’s GOP leadership. In 2009, Cornyn became chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), a post he held for two terms (2009-2013). As NRSC head, he was responsible for recruiting and financing GOP candidates to retake the Senate. Although the GOP did not recapture the Senate majority until 2014, Cornyn was a very successful fundraiser, hauling in $115 million in 2010 (Barone & CQ 2014). Cornyn was elected Minority Whip by his “Red” colleagues after the 2012 election. As the 113th’s Congress (2013-2014) Minority Whip, Cornyn increased his media friendly approach and cable news visibility communicating the GOP message. He was noted for his heavy Twitter use, before Donald employed that tactic to reach his followers. Although Cornyn previously spoke about “working with Democrats” on national security and economic issues and seemed less harsh than some of his “Red” Senate fellows, his real record is that of a hardball player. From 2002-2012, he voted with his hard-right party with scores usually in the 97%-99% range. In 2013, Cornyn made tough criticisms of Democrats on gun control, national debt, and border security. After the GOP retook the Senate in 2014, his proud caucus elected Cornyn Majority Whip (Barone & CQ 14).
Cornyn, like his superior, Majority Leader McConnell, can play obstructionist. Cornyn gave President Obama no honeymoon. On the afternoon of Obama’s first inauguration, 1/20/2009, Cornyn placed a “hold” on Hillary’s nomination to be Secretary of State. This procedural stunt delayed for a day or two her confirmation vote, which she easily won (Comcast.net). Many observers felt Cornyn made this spiteful move because he had a grudge against the Clintons. Cornyn was one of just 9 Senators to vote against an amendment sponsored by POW-torture survivor Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) to ban cruel treatment of prisoners captured in the war on terror. Sen Cornyn pushed then Sen. Armed Services Committee Chair John Warner (D-Va.) to back off investigating torture allegations at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib Iraqi prison (CQ 08 Almanac).
In bullying language, Cornyn warned Obama on 3/07/2016 that if he “dares” to name a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Scalia, that nominee “will bear some resemblance to a piñata (NY Times, Opinion, 3/10/16).” “Legal eagle” Cornyn stood by unqualified W Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers to the end (CQ 08). He voted against super-qualified Obama High Court nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (El Paso Times.com, LA Times, Oliphant). Cornyn was a big recipient of anti-environmental Koch money (See Beckel, publicintegrity.org, 6/16/14). Cornyn was one of 22 Senators who signed a letter to Trump urging him to withdraw from the Paris environmental agreement, which Donald did (theguardian.com, 6/01/17).
Why then should we be surprised that Sen. Cornyn thinks that it’s a “luxury” his fellow GOP Senators don’t have to see what kind of Senate health care repeal plan they’ll be voting on in a few days (See rollingstone.com/politics, 7/21/17)? What does it matter to him? He, like many of his fellow GOPers, lack the “E” empathy quality. Cornyn and his gang are rushing at accelerated warp speed with no public deliberation to vote on ripping health insurance from millions of people. I doubt that as a former Texas Supreme Court Justice, Cornyn similarly rushed to make decisions on cases without bothering to read the briefs containing the arguments of the opposing parties. If he did, he was a very poor jurist.
Trump, VP Pence, and GOP mega-donors are putting the heat on wavering Senators to vote for this awful repeal bill, whatever its contents, because they must “win one for the party” after seven years of screaming against Obamacare (See CNN, Hansler, 7/22/17). With brain-cancer stricken McCain’s absence (we all wish him well), the GOP Senate can only afford to lose two more votes for “repealerbunny” Bill #4 to go down, since no Democrats are supporting it (Mascaro, LA Times, 7/20/2017). Only Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins has publicly indicated she will oppose going forward to debate this bill. Nev.’s Heller, W. Va.’s Moore Capito, and Alaska’s Murkowski, may be wavering. They hope McConnell will give them some extra monetary goodies so they can vote for this still beyond horrible bill. Even hard line Rand Paul may be a “Yea” this time. We’ve seen too many centrists/ “moderate” GOPers cave too many times on health care reform and other matters. We must keep showing our opposition to any “fence sitting” Senators. And most important, in 11/2018, Democrats must come out in droves and take back the House, and even the Senate to keep Obamacare the law of the land. Americans deserve a better deal than the current bought and paid for top 1% “Red” Congress.