When the Congressional Budget Office published its impact estimate of the Senate Republican health care bill on Monday, I happened to be recording an episode of Primary Concerns with former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, and was able to break the top-line news to him: that as written, the legislation would kick 15 million Americans off of their health insurance within a year, and 22 million over 10 years.
His real-time reaction was striking for two reasons. First, as a Democrat governing in a conservative state, he established proof of concept that the Affordable Care Act could be a huge success nationwide: Despite GOP opposition, he effected one of the most successful insurance expansions under the Affordable Care Act in the country. Second, as a Kentucky political eminence and a former rival of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, it isn’t lost on him that the person who seeks to reverse the gains Kentucky made under the ACA is a Kentuckian himself.
“That’s unconscionable,” he told me when I read him CBO’s numbers. But he reserved his strongest criticism for the person who wrote the bill and is now twisting arms to pass it. “It’s really deplorable, when you look at what [McConnell’s] actions, particularly on this bill, will do to his own constituents,” Beshear said. “I mean it is going to not only damage people’s lives. He’s going to cost people their lives. People will die because of legislation like this, if it passes…. He knows exactly what he’s doing and he doesn’t care.”
Beshear argued that there is a contradiction between the Republican Party’s claim to represent religious Christians, and their health policy agenda. Some of these folks talk about how Christian they are,” he told me.
Look, I’m the son of a baptist preacher. I grew up going to church every time the doors opened. But part of that upbringing was, you know, leaving this place a little better off than the way you found it, and living the Golden Rule, as opposed to just quoting it during political campaigns. And man, oh man, how can these folks, you know, call themselves Christian or godly or anything else like they do all the time and then take this kind of attitude and intentionally—intentionally—want to pass stuff that will destroy people’s lives. It’s amazing to me that they can get up and look themselves in the mirror in the morning and not be so ashamed that they have to just go back to bed.
In addition to his brutal assessment of McConnell and the Senate legislation, Beshear’s thoughts on how Democrats can beat back Trumpcare and rebuild a national majority are worth your time as well.