Obamacare repeal exposes House Republicans’ policy nakedness (update #2)

After seven years of political games without having to govern, House Republicans are damned if they repeal Obamacare, and damned if they don’t.

(Image credit: The Nation)

Updated: Added WaPo link and quote at the bottom.

Update #2: Paul Ryan pulls the AHCA. See CNN link and details at the bottom.

So the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare), the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was supposed to go to a vote yesterday. That didn’t happen. So the AHCA is being debated on the House floor and voted on today instead. After Donald threatened to “walk away” from repealing Obamacare if the House couldn’t pass the bill today. And after the Congressional Budget Office re-scored the amended bill as still costing 24 million people their health insurance and reducing the deficit by less than half of what the introduced bill did ($150 billion over 10 years for the amended bill vs. 334 billion originally).

The wonderful thing is that, no matter what the House Republicans do today, they lose. Either they overreach and risk losing their seats in 2018, or they fail to deliver on their “repeal and replace Obamacare” campaign promises and risk losing their seats in 2018. Either way, they lose.

House Republicans (and to a lesser extent Senate Republicans too) have been manipulating their base for years with promises of repealing and replacing the ACA. As of early 2016, they’d introduced and voted on repeals something like 60 times, even though those bills were doomed to fail either in a Democratically-controlled Senate or in the face of President Obama’s veto pen. Until Trump took office, Republicans had the advantage of the opposition – they thought they didn’t have to govern and so they could play political games to their hearts’ content. Now, though, they actually have to go from pretending to be legislators to actually being legislators, and they haven’t made that transition yet.

And so they stand naked before their constituents – damned if they repeal the ACA, and damned if they don’t. And all their healthcare promises over the last 7 years stand exposed as nothing more than political grandstanding. All bark, no bite.

And so I’m going to enjoy the show. And maybe invest in popcorn futures.

Update: Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan to tell Donald that the AHCA doesn’t have the votes to pass

Per the Washington Post:

If the bill does not pass Friday, a day after Trump delivered an ultimatum to lawmakers, it would represent multiple failures for the new president and the Republican Congress.

It would leave the Affordable Care Act in place and leave a major GOP campaign promise undone. It would cast doubt on the GOP’s ability to govern and specifically to move forward on other high-stakes agenda items, such as tax reform and infrastructure spending. And it would undermine Trump’s image as a skilled dealmaker willing to strike compromises to push his agenda forward.

So sad! (Mmmm, this is some truly delicious popcorn….)

Update: Paul Ryan pulls AHCA because it can’t pass the House

In what might best be described as an “own goal,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan couldn’t pull together enough Republican Tea Partiers and moderates to pass the AHCA. From CNN’s story,

As Ryan presented the dire vote totals in his meeting with Trump, he explicitly recommended the President pull the bill, according to a senior GOP official. The decision was ultimately Trump’s. Trump made the call at 3 p.m., as the rest of House leadership was gathering in Ryan’s office.

The decision to delay the vote marks an acute embarrassment for Trump, who had gambled big by presenting holdout House conservatives with a take-it-or-leave it ultimatum on Thursday night and put his own credibility on the line.

It also puts Ryan in a much weakened political position, after being defied by his own conference, which seems just as unsuited to governing in the Trump era as it was when it was effectively a protest coalition under Obama.

Or, as per the military maxim, “never interrupt your opponent when they’re making a mistake.”

For everyone who thinks that the ACA was an imperfect solution to the problem of health insurance, but one that nevertheless ultimately improved the lives of millions of Americans, this is more than a mere skirmish. This was a major battle, and after having lost a few skirmishes along the way (Betsy DeVos and Scott Pruitt, for example), the win is some welcome good news.

Let’s celebrate tonight, but come back tomorrow ready to continue battling for American values and progress. Because the war’s not over, and we can’t expect the Republicans to immolate themselves like this on every issue.

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