It’s conventional wisdom that the Russia scandal is a “distraction” from Donald Trump’s agenda, and that what the president and his party really need is to change the subject back to health care and taxes. But their behavior indicates just the opposite. The Russia scandal may be unwelcome, but the distraction happens to be a useful opportunity. Senate Republicans hope to rush their health-care bill into law with the absolute minimum of public scrutiny. Caitlin Owens reports that the bill is likely to be finalized tonight, but will not be made public anytime soon.
“We aren’t stupid,” one GOP aide tells Owens. (Follow-up question: What about evil?)
It is difficult to think of an example of a law in the history of the United States that would have such a deep impact on so many people — millions would find insurance no longer affordable — drafted with so little public input. No hearings, no public examination of the details. Republican senators can claim the secret law is better than the deeply hated House version, but without laying out the trade-offs that allegedly make it so.
In a normal political environment, a scandal is a distraction from a major bill, because major bills get passed by building public consensus. In this case, avoiding the public is the entire strategy. And the crafting of the bill is itself a scandal.