Jerry Moran is a prime example of bold heroism. Bucking the Republican leadership and his GOP colleagues, the U.S. senator from Kansas made a leap of conscience this week.
By announcing he would oppose the Senate’s health care bill, Moran helped kill a horrendous piece of legislation, the so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act. The name of the bill is enough to choke on. Nothing is better about it, particularly care.
Right after his gutsy act, for which he forever will be known both in Washington and back home in Kansas, Moran said he would support repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Apparently, after dismantling Obamacare Republicans are supposed to somehow fix health care during the next two years.
Giving Moran the benefit of the doubt, the Kansas senator may have believed he needed to stake out a secondary position that would help him save face and avoid being completely ostracized by his fellow senators, many Republicans across the country and plenty of Kansans. The savvy politician, who has spent 20 years in the Capitol, previously as a congressman from the big 1st District of Kansas, knows the repeal-without-replacement bill is going absolutely nowhere, ever.
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Moran still deserves gushy praise for doing something he rarely, if ever, has done before. He stood almost alone in opposition to his party’s bill. In all of his years in Washington, I cannot find a single time Moran ever did anything other than consistently vote with the rank-and-file Republicans.
Moran, you must understand, is the consummate establishment Republican. He is not a right-wing ideologue. And he certainly is no moderate. In fact, his voting record among Republican senators is the most unlike Susan Collins’, the moderate senator from Maine.
This is a man who is, first and foremost, a loyal Republican legislator. With a reputation as a reliable GOP stalwart, Moran chaired the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2014. His role was to make certain that Republican candidates for Senate across the country were successful in their campaigns.
And he did just that. On his watch, Republicans gained nine seats in the U.S. Senate, giving the GOP its first majority there since 2006.
Statisticians, before Moran’s maverick move this week, gave the Kansas senator a 96 percent chance of being re-elected in 2022, when his current term is up. That percentage could drop if Moran’s brave act results in him drawing a Republican primary opponent. Moran has consistently wiped out his Democratic challengers in general elections with numbers in the stratosphere.
His tightest race came when Moran first ran in 2010 and faced ultra-conservative Republican Todd Tiahrt, also a congressman, in the primary. The final vote was closer than anything Moran had experienced then, or since. Moran won with 49.7 percent, beating out Tiahrt, who had 44.6 percent of the vote.
It is far too soon to know if Moran’s day of “infamy” among many Republicans will compel Tiahrt or any other conservative Republican to mount a challenge five years from now.
In the meantime, Moran deserves to bask in the glory of his actions. He helped save 120,000 Kansans from losing their health insurance and protected tens of thousands from feeling the devastation of Medicaid cuts.
He helped save rural hospitals and nursing homes from extinction. And Moran saved chronically ill Kansans — and all ill Americans — from being denied insurance for pre-existing conditions, or, at the least, seeing their premiums skyrocket.
This was Jerry Moran’s finest hour. His state and his country owe him a debt of gratitude. He will take plenty of heat, but he should always know he was right in taking this courageous stand.