Inside the Beltway



US Capitol, Washington, DC  © E

d Harms


So, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, still exists. Thanks to one man and two women. At least, for now. Undoubtedly, The Better Care Reconciliation Act, or Trumpcare, will be discussed in the near future. 


All the articles that describe the events and drama in the early hours of Friday morning, give reconstructions and analysis on what happened in the Senate. In Washington, DC. Interesting, but not the core of why events unfolded as they did.

The main focus is John McCain, the senior Senator from Arizona, who left that entire chamber in uncertainty until the very last moment, the moment he cast his “no” vote, by doing so concentrating all the attention on him. Explaining his vote afterwards, he said that he “stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict party-line basis without a single Republican vote. (…) We should not make the mistakes of the past.” (“The Washington Post”, 2017/07/28). “I’m convinced that we can move forward but we have to have assurances that we will go through a normal [legislative] process” (“Politico”, 2017/07/28).  Of course, that’s one reason: “he values process, decorum, and Senate traditions to a degree that many observers find strange” (“The Atlantic”, 2017/07/28).

Yet, another, and more important reason can be read at an online Arizona newspaper that is part of the USA Today network: “Credit to McCain who listened to the people of Arizona and had the tenacity to demand better that that for which his Republican colleagues were willing to settle. According to a poll taken on Wednesday, just 6 percent of Arizona’s voters supported this bill.”

And that’s the more important issue, showing once again there an imaginary wall, or the Beltway as it regularly is referred to, between Washington DC and the rest of the country. Because “the primary force driving the events of Thursday night and Friday morning was the energy and (yes) persistence of all those people who swamped town hall meetings, who wrote, or called, or e-mailed various congresscritters to show them what real political pressure felt like.” (

Despite all those people, just one man and two women had the courage to fully represent their constituents and withstand their party leadership. (Which excludes the President, who did nothing at all to “sell” the bill. The Art of the Deal in business is totally different from the Art of the Deal in politics – which he doesn’t understand).

So 49 other Republican Senators did not withstand. Stayed into the Beltway and felt comfortable within the (albeit very beautiful) walls of the North Wing of the US Congress’ building.

Which, for now, is comfortable. But as The Atlantic states: “Republican talkers have been warning that the failure of repeal would doom the party’s chances in 2018. That’s not quite right: Repeal would have been so unpopular that its success would actually have been the worst GOP outcome. But what is right is that the internal party dysfunction—and White House chaos—that produced the repeal failure is also leading to electoral defeat. It may well produce an electoral defeat of the epic scale of 2006 and 2010 for the party of the most disliked and distrusted first-term president of modern times.”

(To be fair: the title of this blog entry was stolen from the book Matt Frei, a former BBC correspondent, now working for Channel 4, wrote about his life and work when stationed in the US).



Over Ed Harms

As in work: ǀ As in hobby: following a course in Journalism @FHJTilburg |
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