Late into the night on Thursday, or early on Friday morning, which ever you prefer, the Senate rejected the Skinny Repeal of Obamacare. For the time being, it would seem, Repeal and ________ is dead. For anywhere between 16,000,000 and 30,000,000 Americans this comes as great news. For the Republican Party, not so much.
The GOP “plan” to repeal and do anything was likely doomed from the start. For one thing, it would appear that Republicans never actually expected to have to do anything. They spent seven years railing against the law and casting theatrical vote after theatrical vote under Obama, who was never going to sign a repeal bill. They campaigned on the issue. But, since it has become more and more apparent each day that they never thought they would win last year’s elections, they never took the time, over the last seven years, to craft a viable, comprehensive, and cohesive alternative to Obamacare.
Paul Ryan said earlier this year, in response to questions about what a Republican plan might look like, that he wasn’t going to speculate on a plan that hadn’t been written yet. This was after seven years of Republicans saying that they wanted to repeal and replace with their own plan. He then brought up the AHCA, Trumpcare, for a vote and it passed without most members of the House even having read it. This is mostly because it was hastily written over the course of a few weeks. The House version passed in May, and it was immediately declared dead in the Senate.
The Senate then began their own version of the bill, which they have had trouble garnering support for as, again, it was hastily written and no real debate was ever given to the matter. Keep in mind that less than three months have passed since the House version of the bill, which was only written in April of this year, passed and tonight/this morning’s last ditch vote in the Senate. The simple, undeniable truth is that Republicans never had a plan. They likely never thought that they would need a plan. They didn’t think they would win. They know that their policies are anathema to the American public, once they are put under the microscope of public scrutiny.
McConnell, after the vote, gave a sad speech expressing his disappointment with Senators who actually care about the American people (or, perhaps, more likely, want to be reelected). In his typical fashion, he stretched the truth and made some outright false statements. He blamed the Democrats for not having helped in the crafting the bill – despite all versions of the bill having been written in secret by a team of thirteen Republican men, none of them doctors. He accused the Democrats of celebrating the failure of the skinny repeal, claiming that they were in the tank for hurting America, despite the fact that every version of the Republican bill would leave millions of Americans not just uninsured, but ripping away the insurance that they just recently acquired, and that all versions of the bill would cause premiums to rise even further and faster, sending the insurance markets into a death spiral.
McConnell admitted, in a round about way, that it was time to bring the rest of the country on board with discussions on how to proceed. He did this, of course, by denigrating any and all viewpoints that are in opposition to his hatred for what is, and always has been, a Republican plan championed by that guy. He made attempts at shaming his colleagues, and flirting with accusations of Democrats as “socialists,” despite the fact that McConnell supports a man who ran for president on the promise of using the power of the state to dictate what can be manufactured, who can manufacture it, where it can be manufactured, how much can be manufactured, who can buy the product and for how much, and installing quotas all across the board.
Tonight/This morning, McConnell’s facade as master strategist finally died, and with it a disastrous plan to rip health care away from millions of Americans who, through no fault of their own, have gotten sick and aren’t rich. This is another blow to Trump, who has made no attempt to even understand what the hell he’s talking about and what any of this would mean. Hopefully, it is a blow to the GOP stranglehold on the Congress as well, as with only three Republican Senators voting against the bill (McCain being one of them), it is clear that most Republicans do not even pretend to care about their constituents enough to not hurt them and possibly kill them for no other reason than erasing the legacy of that guy.
Obamacare isn’t perfect. In fact, it has some problems. One of my main gripes with it is that is has no mechanism to prevent gouging. Nonetheless, it has done more good than harm, and it appears that it might just be here to stay.
Image credit USA Today