With the dust still settling from this healthcare bill fiasco, one can only begin to wonder if Republicans ever had any serious interest in repealing Obamacare to begin with. After all, the same House of Representatives that voted to repeal the law dozens of times when they knew it was headed for a veto on President Obama’s desk…suddenly is unable to agree on a plan?
Perhaps the problem is that, somewhere along the line, “repeal Obamacare” turned into “repeal and replace Obamacare.” And any form of genuine replacement is just going to leave the federal government in charge of the health insurance industry. In other words, it retains the big government growth. It retains the taxes, in one form or another. And, if you peel it all the way back to its core, it retains the individual mandate. It may not actually compel you to buy health insurance, but it will compel you to pay for those tax credits one way or the other.
And yet, repeal and replace is what it became, and it’s what every Republican ran on in 2016, including Donald Trump. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s some catastrophic failure that they haven’t made good on that promise. It’s only March. There’s plenty of time.
But they don’t seem interested. Paul Ryan says that Obamacare will be the law of the land for “the foreseeable future.” Trump says he’s ready to move on to tax reform and other items on his agenda. So after all of that talk and all of those promises…Republicans are just going to give up because they couldn’t pass a bill in 17 days?
That’s the part that doesn’t make sense. The story of this bill from start to finish…something doesn’t add up. Yes, there’s a huge ideological divide within the Republican Party. Yes, perhaps Trump made a few too many promises on the campaign trail to put into a coherent, conservative-minded bill. But why does that mean you work for less than a month to rid the country of this scourge called Obamacare?
The one thing Trump told us – continues to tell us, in fact – is that Obamacare would soon be in a death spiral from which it would not recover. And that is, by all reasonable accounts, the truth of the matter. So what is the plan? To just let it collapse? That doesn’t just mean that millions of people will lose their health insurance; it could have extraordinary economic reverberations throughout the country.
The party – hell, the entire federal government – has gotten into quite the jam on healthcare. And while Republicans are chasing their tails, the Bernie Sanders liberals are making another push for universal healthcare.
This wasn’t a failure, it was a surrender. Now we should demand to know why.