Vulnerable GOP senator callously admits repeal bill he hasn't read will hurt his constituents


Republican Sen. Jeff Flake is ready and willing to vote for the GOP's latest disaster of a health care bill — even though he admits he hasn't read the whole thing, and knows that some of his own constituents will be worse off if it passes.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake has not read the GOP health care bill in its entirety, but one thing he knows is that some people — including some of his own constituents — will be worse off than they are now if the Graham-Cassidy bill is enacted.

So of course, he's eager to support it.

Apparently, that kind of twisted logic makes sense to Republicans, especially ones who find themselves targeted by Donald Trump's spite over their perceived insufficient loyalty.

But the fact is, despite occasionally criticizing him, Flake has been a supporter of Trump's agenda.

And he remains so now, even as the current iteration of the GOP's crusade to repeal Obamacare has proven to be the worst and most devastating yet. Under Graham-Cassidy, by 2026, roughly 32 million fewer people would have coverage. The bill would wipe out guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions, and would enact drastic cuts to state health care funding.

As Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy put it, the bill is "an intellectual and moral garbage truck fire."

But Flake is all aboard the Republican Inferno Express — despite the fact that he openly admitted on MSNBC's Morning Joe that he has not read the whole bill, and that he knows some of the people who elected him to serve their state would be left worse off under the plan than they are now under Obamacare.

When asked by panel guest Mike Barnicle if he had read the bill, Flake chuckled and said, "Oh — we're — I've read a lot of it. We're all looking at it."

And when Barnicle pressed him on how long the bill is, Flake stammered about not knowing "the current number of pages."

Flake claimed that he has "heard it said it'll be a race to the bottom, and that the states can ultimately deny coverage or allow insurance companies to deny on pre-existing conditions."

But he insisted that "de facto, they won't be able to," before launching into an odd tangent about welfare reform in the 1990s not being as bad as people said it would be (thought it certainly wasn't as consequence-free as Flake seems to think).

While admitting that the bill allows states to apply for a waiver on covering pre-existing conditions, Flake seemed baffled at the notion that any state would choose to do so. "In reality, is any governor, is any state legislature, going to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions?" he asked.

"Yes. Yes, they are," host Joe Scarborough replied emphatically.

"No, I don't believe they will," Flake declared. "In the past, maybe, but not anymore."

"They have to respond to political pressure," he insisted.

One wonders from where Flake draws such sunny optimism regarding red state governors, many of whom have had no qualms whatsoever about denying medical coverage to their constituents.

Panelist Mark Halperin then tried to get a direct answer out of Flake about the people in his state who would suffer under Graham-Cassidy.

"Be honest with your constituents," Halperin pressed. "Some of them will be worse off, right? So who are those people? Describe what those people are like."

"Well, what we have right now: one third of Arizonans are covered by our version of Medicaid," Flake said.

"And some of those people will be worse off with this bill," Halperin stated.

"Theoretically," Flake hedged weakly. "We don't know."

"Well, how could they not be?" Halperin demanded.

Flake is clearly unprepared to offer a full-throated defense of the bill, likely because he knows there simply isn't one — at least, one that is factual and not based on lies and deception.

Having been a target of Trump's petulance and the rage of the Breitbart machine on behalf of Trump, Flake now seems to be twisting himself into whatever logical pretzel he must to justify his support of this horrible bill, even if only to himself.

Flake may have laid out some criticism of Trump and other Republicans in his new book, mendaciously titled Conscience of a Conservative, but his desperate scramble to prop up their dangerous health care repeal and to inflict harm on millions of Americans makes one wonder about Flake's definition of "conscience."