Is Failure to Repeal and Replace Actually a Success for the GOP?

Well, kind of. At least according to an enterprising writer at POLITICO who, even with a tone which suggests he believes they never will, thinks the GOP has a chance to give the country what it wants regarding healthcare insurance.


His theory is basically this:

  • Obamacare is a mess and has been an albatross around the necks of Democrats through a few recent elections cycles (!)
  • President Trump went against his instincts to let Obamacare fail when he decided to support the GOP in crafting and voting on repeal and/or replace legislation.
  • Some stuff about never letting a crisis go to waste and how the GOP copied the thing they hated most by trying to rush through legislation (boiler plate and not that interesting line of reasoning)
  • If the GOP had been successful in passing a replacement “with a bare majority of votes, loved by nearly no one, endlessly assailed by the new media, its consequences would be the GOP’s to bear.”

It’s this last point that I think really matters because it strikes me as true. Especially as regards skinny repeal, which they essentially cobbled together on a napkin in the Congressional cafeteria 3 hours before the vote (not really, but it had that kind of dismissive feel to it).

And on that point I think the writer misunderstands the GOP.

*Disclaimer — I’m about to be complimentary of the GOP which I’m sure I’ll end up paying for in the comment section but what’s life without risks?*


Watching Sen. Mitch McConnell watch Sen. John McCain saunter down the Senate chamber and give a thumbs down almost in the Majority Leader’s face, and the look on McConnell’s face when that happened, spoke volumes to me. The Senate GOP never expected this version, skinny or not, to pass. It was a trial balloon to catch a McCain.

And now that they’ve caught him — in as much as John Q. Public now knows the names of the people responsible for what’s happening to them in states like Nevada, Iowa, Utah and California where large insurance companies are dropping state Obamacare exchanges and at least 868,460 patients will lose current coverage in 2018 — they are free to craft what they want and dare those Senators to obstruct again.

On this point, POLITICO has it right:

Second, if elected Republicans truly want to enact a massive rewrite of the health care system (and let’s be honest, many don’t), then they need to wait for a new health care crisis to develop. This will come. And soon. America’s health care system, as it is currently structured, is unsustainable. Premiums will continue to rise. Insurers will continue to shut down operations in various locales. There will continue to be complaints and horror stories from governors and mayors about the toll being taken on their communities. Only when there is a mass consensus that something sweeping needs to be done to fix the system will Congress find the fortitude to act. And at that point, you might at least get help from a Democrat or two. If Obamacare taught anything to anyone in Washington—a city allergic to lessons—bipartisan buy-in, no matter how minimal, is crucial.


So, yes, in a way, the failure to pass a repeal and replace bill has, in some ways, brought unity to the party in as much as, like POLITICO notes, securing Obamacare may end up being the GOP legacy if they’re not careful. It’s a good bet the party en masse doesn’t want that.

Let’s see what they do with the freedom of this blessing in disguise.


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