The Lack of Any Plan On Healthcare By the GOP is Now Plain For All To See
There never really was a plan…
The GOP Senate, led by Mitch McConnell today all but conceded that they cannot reach a consensus on how to replace Obamacare. Their staunch opposition to the healthcare law, passed in 2010 without any republican support, appears to have been a ruse aimed at riling up the talk radio and internet message board crowd.
And now, with full control of all three branches of government, the Republican party has shown itself to be remarkably bankrupt of ideas. Given 7 years to come up with some kind of an alternative solution to spiraling healthcare costs, they are unable to reach a consensus on how to move forward, and thus are failing to follow through on one of their party’s signature campaign platforms.
How We Got Here
The coalition responsible for passing this bill was always tentative at best, split between hardline conservatives who fundamentally dispute the role of government in healthcare, and moderates whose constituents benefit directly from the Affordable Care Act. It was this rift that killed the original bill brought forth in the House back in March.
The fault lines had been cracking on this bill since its inception, and reached a critical mass last evening when McConnell announced they did not have the votes to pass the bill. In truth this had been brewing for weeks now, and the frustrations simply boiled over. From the New York Times:
Republican senators, reflecting the divide in the party, quickly formed two camps: those who wanted to squeeze hundreds of billions of dollars out of Medicaid, and those, mainly from states that had expanded the program, who wanted to preserve it…
The final efforts for the bill began to unravel over the weekend as several Republican senators began to balk at the legislation.
By Tuesday morning it was abundantly clear that the bill was dead on arrival, and would not be put to a vote. But McConnell was not done yet. He scheduled another vote, this time to just repeal and not replace Obamacare, which was an immediate non-starter.
That legislation was originally brought before the Senate in 2015, and was largely symbolic. GOP Senators knew president Obama would veto any such bill that arrived on his desk, and so they were free to make the vote without fear of consequence. Now, when the stakes are actually real, their conviction seems to have waned.
Nobody’s Fault But Mine
It is absolutely impossible to spin this as anything other than a total failure on the part of the Republican party to clearly articulate a governing agenda. The GOP made their living for the last eight years lying to the American people about the purpose of Obamacare, yet they have no clear vision of an alternative. From The Intercept:
The House bill was never designed to become law, and it’s anything but clear that McConnell made a real effort to make it one. A decisive number of Republican senators from states that had expanded Medicaid, many of which are facing a cataclysmic opioid problem, were nervous about slashing the program.
They have known for a long time that replacing this bill would be next to impossible, but continued to promise they would, stoking anger and outrage along the way. The repeal and replace mantra touches the essence of the Trump voter, most of whom probably can’t tell you much about why they hate the ACA ( hint: it’s because it has the word Obama in it).
Policy is not a huge concern of the average Republican politician/personality. Indeed, belief that the government has no role at all in health care is fundamental to conservative philosophy. Congress is more than willing leave millions without insurance and go back to a market based system. If you can’t afford health insurance, it is because you didn’t work hard enough.
These types of solutions sound good on paper, but much less so when real lives (votes?) come into play. Principals only go so far when you have to answer to constituents who can easily fire you.
Saying no is easy. Now that the GOP has a chance to lay out their vision, will we ever get to see what it is?