Minnesota needed two bold Republicans to block Trumpcare, has none


Take a look at that image above. 

Probably some of you recognize the view that comes on C-Span while the Congress-covering network awaits the final tally of a crucial floor vote. Right there in the middle of the frame -- above "TIME REMAINING: 0:00," and next to the "YEA" vote number of 217 --  that's Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minnesota. 

That 217 number is how many Republicans in Congress had just voted in favor of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), aka Trumpcare, aka Ryancare, aka a tax cut bill disguised as a plan to somehow reduce the average Americans' rising health insurance expenses.

Among Minnesota's three Republicans, Emmer was the last to commit to voting for the bill, but always seemed the least likely to stray from party orthodoxy. Republican activists in Emmer's fervently conservative 6th District (formerly Michele Bachmann's) will expect their man in Washington to fall in love with anything branded "Trump"-something or other, including steaks. 

Not so for Reps. Jason Lewis and Erik Paulsen, repping Minnesota's 2nd and 3rd districts, respectively. Those suburban swing districts are the kind of mixed/moderate areas where you can't just yell "Obama!", bug out your eyes, and get votes.

Indeed, a Public Policy Polling survey just this week found 54 percent of Paulsen's district supports Obamacare, while 36 percent oppose it; those numbers were flipped (though even more stark) when asked about AHCA, the Obamacare repeal-and-regret package Republicans are fast-tracking through Congress. 

Thursday's final vote tally of 217-213 in the U.S. House means 20 Republicans broke away from the party to vote against the bill. Had any two other Republicans on the floor found the courage to vote against it, the bill would've stalled yet again, and perhaps died a final death.

None of Minnesota's Republicans fit that description. Paulsen, Lewis, and Emmer all played their parts. (All five of Minnesota's Democrats voted against, as did every other Democrat in the House.)

In a statement, Lewis said the bill would bring "lower premiums, universal access, and greater patient choice." (Bolded for emphasis, and for posterity next time we pick people in Congress.)

Paulsen, meanwhile, says the bill makes American healthcare "more patient-centered," and continued to give the world's longest public sensual massage to the medical device industry. This bill permanently repeals a tax on those companies, whose CEOs donate to Paulsen's campaigns in much greater amounts than the low-middle-income people who used those revenues to subsidize insurance.

About the bill itself, here's a neat New York Times explainer about who "wins" and "loses" if something like its current form passes the Senate and gets signed into law. Short version: "High-income earners," "upper-middle-class people without pre-existing health conditions," "people who want less comprehensive health coverage," and "large employers." Great Americans, all of them.

The losers? "Poor people," "Older Americans," people with pre-existing conditions," "state governments," and "hospitals." 

Also sorting out winners and losers today: Donald Trump, who tweeted the "victorious" Republicans would hold a "big press conference at the beautiful Rose Garden" to celebrate passing the bill. 

Remember when Trump said we'd all get tired of winning? Looks like Erik Paulsen and Jason Jewis already are.  At least when it comes to winning elections.