One unsung reason the Republicans failed in their seven-year quest to kill Obama’s signature legacy is that the left went all tea party on them.
Betty Koenig’s no registered lobbyist. She’s a 72-year-old nurse in Redmond who, when I spoke with her, begged off early for a more pressing appointment: driving her granddaughter to work.
She also happens to have Mitch McConnell’s office on speed dial.
“I called him four times this week,” Betty told me, referring to the U.S. Senate majority leader, who represents a state 2,000 miles away. “I have his back line office number, so his staff always answers it.
“I’m a born New Yorker. I tell it to them straight.”
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Obamacare lives on, at least for now. Though it’s impossible to know what precisely saved the Affordable Care Act from the Republicans’ seven-year quest to kill it, Koenig, and millions like her, are surely one of the unsung reasons why.
Koenig is not with any organized effort. Yet in an almost daily ritual of protest, she has been calling members of Congress the past few months (always only reaching a staffer.) Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, got a slew of calls. Ditto U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. Lately she’s been phone-focused on McConnell and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
“I called Murkowski again today,” Koenig said Friday. “To thank her.”
Koenig is part of what The New Yorker magazine recently called an “unprecedented level of citizen engagement going on outside the Beltway that Congress has never experienced before.”
The U.S. Senate has at times been getting 1.5 million phone calls per day, the busiest in the history of the Capitol switchboard. Lots of that was driven by organized activism and technology. But some of it, as with Koenig, was simply organic.
“I would just get mad at the thought of them cutting millions off insurance,” Koenig said. “I’m a nurse,…