My colleagues Tara Golshan, Dylan Scott, and Jeff Stein recently posted a series of eight interviews with Republican senators in which they asked them to explain what the main virtues of their health care legislation are. You’ll see, if you read the interviews, that the senators really struggled with this fairly basic question.
But if you want an even quicker version of the same takeaway, you can’t do much better than Matt Laslo’s quick interview with Georgia Sen. David Perdue:
"It's much better than Obamacare," Sen. Purdue. on new health bill.— Matt Laslo (@MattLaslo) June 22, 2017
"Why?" we ask.
"I have to go read it."
Perdue has not been much of a player during the legislative process, neither considered in play as a possible defector nor involved in the drafting of the bill. But as he says, he’s all for it because it’s much better than Obamacare. And he doesn’t need to actually read the bill or know what it says in order to know that.
Caroline Vanvick, a spokesperson for Perdue, explains on the phone that the core issue is that “Obamacare is failing” and “anything is better than Obamacare” so detailed knowledge of the line-by-line specifics is not necessary. The notion that Obamacare exchanges are failing or collapsing nationwide is, to the best of my knowledge, not accurate and it’s certainly not the case that Medicaid is collapsing so I’m not entirely sure why Perdue would believe that anything is better than Obamacare. But that, for the record, is his official position.
And it also reflects a major reason why the “stealth and speed” strategy Senate Republican leadership is deploying has a chance of working.
The drafting of the Affordable Care Act was a slow and open process in large part because typical Democratic Party members of Congress were very interested in health care policy and wanted to kick the tires and get an idea or two into the mix. The GOP caucus, by contrast, has a critical mass of Perdue types who don’t really care. They want an Obamacare repeal bill that their colleagues will vote for, and they are happy to back it regardless of what it specifically does.