Kansas GOP Sen. Jerry Moran thought he could have his July 4th recess Trumpcare town hall meeting cake and eat it too as he held it in the remote western part of the state. The event in tiny Palco, Kansas, population 277, in Rooks County, population 5,200, a county that Trump won by 70 points in November.
Only one small problem, and that is Kansans, even in Rooks County, have had about enough of the GOP.
But about 150 people tried to squeeze into a community center room set up to hold less than half that many people, many of them from outside the area. While the audience applauded Moran for opposing a health care bill written by Senate GOP leaders, the applause was louder for speakers who advocated a universal government-run health care program such as Medicare for the elderly or Medicaid for the poor.
Moran announced last week that he would oppose the Senate Republican bill after a budget analysis suggested 22 million more people would be uninsured under the proposal by 2026. Moran said the legislation needs to protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and not hurt rural hospitals.
“I will choose country over party,” Moran said. “I will choose Kansans over party.”
Like many other Republican lawmakers, Moran has been a persistent critic of the 2010 Affordable Care Act championed by former President Barack Obama and filed legislation during the Democrat’s administration to repeal it.
The general push still has the support of many Republican voters in the area, including Ashley Kuhn, the 32-year-old director of a day care center down Main Street from the community center where Moran had his town hall. She said she’s seen her family’s health insurance co-payments double and deductibles rise, and she blames it on Obama’s signature health care law.
“Health care needs to be changed,” she said.
But Moran’s town hall drew supporters of Planned Parenthood and members of health care advocacy groups from as far away as the Kansas City area. They were there to press Moran to pursue a bipartisan solution that built on the existing health care law and moved the nation toward broader government coverage.
“Who doesn’t want health care?” Jeff Zamrzla, a retired and disabled Marine and 59-year-old Democratic activist from Salina, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the east of Palco, said after the forum. “Who doesn’t want to be able to live a life that’s worth living?”
The real albatross around Moran's neck is Kansas GOP Gov. Sam Brownback. Kansans found out the hard way that Republican economic projections aren't worth a fart in a plains tornado, so you'll excuse them if they don't actually believe Republicans like Moran anymore.
Moran's seat is pretty safe, frankly, but not even he's stupid enough to vote for Trumpcare as it is. That may change, he's still a Republican after all. But for now, Trumpcare is dead as long as Moran won't vote for it.